Ross Bagdasarian, Jr. (October 25, 1949) is an Armenian-American film producer, record producer, singer, and voice artist and the son of the Alvin and the Chipmunks creator Ross Bagdasarian, Sr. He is also the co-creator of The Chipettes.
Life and Career
As a child, Bagdasarian, Jr. worked with his father on The Alvin Show by helping edit and coordinate the soundtracks and falsetto voice overs of The Chipmunks. Nearly forty years later in "A Chat With Alvin," a track from the Greatest Hits: Still Squeaky After All These Years album, Ross Jr. says he didn't have to watch his dad write the music and the show, and his dad didn't have to go to his Little League games.
After his father's untimely death in 1972, Bagdasarian, Jr. succeeded him as the main owner of the Chipmunks productions, which had fallen into obscurity after significant success between 1958 and the late 1960s. He would later head Bagdasarian Productions with his singer-manager Janice Karman.
Ross Jr., a law school graduate, was surprised to find himself following in his father's footsteps.
|I revered my dad, but I didn’t want to do what he had done. That was his creation. Had he remained, I never would have done this. But when he passed away suddenly, it was a way of keeping my dad alive, and keeping what he created alive.|
Under his supervision, new Chipmunks records were created in 1979, shortly after marrying Karman, starting with Chipmunk Punk. In 1980, the Chipmunks returned to television in the cartoon special A Chipmunk Christmas. Three years later, Ruby-Spears Productions' Alvin and the Chipmunks Saturday morning cartoon series debuted on NBC. Ross Jr. sings and speaks the parts of Alvin, Simon, and Dave Seville throughout the series.
In the mid-90s, Bagdasarian, Jr. bought the Chipmunk rights from his brother Adam and a sister to take complete control.
Universal Pictures Lawsuit
Bagdasarian, Jr. licensed the rights to the Chipmunk characters to Universal Pictures in 1996, resulting in the direct-to-video films Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet Frankenstein and Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman. Four years later, he and Janice Karman sued them for breach of contract, claiming that Universal failed to properly utilize, market, and merchandise the characters and hence resulting in a loss of royalties to Bagdasarian, Jr. The case was decided in Bagdasarian, Jr.'s favor. “For us, it was a custody battle,” Karman said. “They finally realized ‘OK, these two are really fighting for their kids.'"
Creation of the CGI Chipmunks
Originally, Bagdasarian, Jr. was set to portray Dave. However, due to his age (58 at the time of filming), the younger Jason Lee was chosen. Initially, he was also going to provide Alvin and Simon's voices, but was replaced at the studio's insistence with the younger actors Justin Long and Matthew Gray Gubler respectively. Nevertheless, Bagdasarian, Jr. would provide Alvin's singing voice. He retains his role for Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel and Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked that followed.
- "One of the things Ed Sullivan loved about my Dad was that he used less time than he was allotted. Performers coveted each second on the Sullivan show like gold because of it's huge audience and influence. Nonetheless, if Pop was given time for two songs, but only felt he could deliver one good performance, he told Ed to give the extra time to someone else. That may be one of the reasons Ed invited him back six times."
- "My Dad was a wonderful singer. His voice was rich and strong and reassuring. It could strike fear in you or make you laugh or feel safer than anywhere else in the world. His talent made David Seville much more interesting because you knew Dave could sing as well as The Chipmunks. Maybe not as high, but definitely as well."
- "When I was 9 years old I remember sitting in my father's den and listening to the first Christmas record of The Chipmunks - The Chipmunk Song. I didn't know then that the song would become a perennial Christmas favorite or that it would spawn 3 generations of fans. But I did know that it made me laugh and I loved Alvin getting the best of my dad. Forty-five years later, the personality of Alvin, Simon and Theodore and their interaction with David Seville has continued to delight audiences around the world. The Chipmunks have continued to evolve over the years, most recently as pre-schoolers in their first DVD, the feature length Little Alvin and the Mini-Munks."