Stan Freberg

Stan Freberg was a rock-and-roll satirist in the 50's. He put together a number of comedy records that were very popular.

Stan was born in Pasadena, California in 1926. When he was 11 he worked on stage in his uncle's magic show. Beginning in 1943 he did voice impersonations on Cliffie Stone's radio show. Following World War II Stan did cartoon voices for some of the major animated film studios such as Paramount, Warner Brothers, Disney, and Lantz. He landed a spot on the kids' TV show Time For Beany with Daws Butler.

In 1950, Stan put his first satire piece on a record for Capitol with John and Marsha, which was a take-off on radio soap operas. In 1953 he turned his attention to the radio/television show Dragnet. Using the famous dumm-de-dum-dum line, some of Jack Webb's sayings such as "Just the facts, m'am," great comedic timing, some outrageous puns, and help from Daws Butler, June Foray and musical director Billy May, Freberg came up with his biggest hit in St. George and the Dragonet. Sales of the record skyrocketed.

Stan Freberg then turned his attention to send-ups of well-known pop songs of the day. In 1955 he took on Mitch Miller's The Yellow Rose Of Texas. The following year the Platters had a number one song with The Great Pretender; in Freberg's version, the pianist refused to play "that kling-kling-kling jazz." Harry Belafonte's top ten song, Banana Boat [Day-O] became a target. The conflict in Freberg's version took place between the calypso singer and the hipster bongo player who said everything was "too loud, man". On another occasion, in a parody of a folk singer trying to sing and do a folksy monologue on Lonnie Donegan's Rock Island Line, Peter Leeds took the role of straight man; he played an A&R man who was constantly interrupting to try to eliminate the singer's dialect. Another ripe performer of the day that Freberg took on was Lawrence Welk. Still with Capitol, he released Wun'erful, Wun'erful! [Sides uh-one & uh-two]. The payola scandals became topical in the music business leading Freberg to produce The Old Payola Roll Blues. In 1960, Freberg perceived the music business as one which persistently hyped performers who were short on talent, leading him to create his character Clyde Ankle. In the era just before the Beatles emerged, he began to feel that there was little left to satirize and looked to turn his attentions elsewhere.

He found a new challenge in the advertising world. Freberg would produce such things as commercials for instant coffee that were very funny. In the early 60's he became very much in demand from advertisers and did very well at it. Stan Freberg won more than twenty Clio awards, which are given for outstanding achievement in the radio/television advertising industry.

In 1961 the concept album Stan Freberg Presents The United States Of America made the charts. A compilation of his hits was reissued in 1988 on Jasmine as A Child's Garden Of Freberg.

Stan Freberg was among the best at producing parodies of hit songs in the early days of rock-and-roll.

Most Recent Update: April 20, 2000

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