Friday, August 30, 2013

Allan Sherman on "Hello Muddah"

In less than one minute, Sherman offers a fascinating take on the appeal of "Hello Muddah."

For Sherman the song's subtext, if you'll allow such language, is darker than you might guess.

This audio clip is virtually unknown. It is from a 1964 not-for-sale promotional album delivered to disc jockey called Allan Sherman And You. . . 

I'm very interested in your thoughts.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Monday, August 26, 2013

Chicago Mayor Proclaims Allan Sherman Day!

Chicago Mayoral Proclamation to designate August 31, 2013, Allan Sherman Day in Chicago

The proclamation, to be released Wednesday, will recognize the 50th anniversary of the Chicago native's famous "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh!" song, and also the 50th anniversary of Sherman's My Son, The Nut becoming the #1 bestselling album in the country. My Son, The Nut includes "Hello Muddah."

Allan Sherman was born in Chicago on November 30, 1924. He attended Lowell Elementary School and Tuley High. His childhood experiences living with his immigrant grandparents Leon and Esther Sherman at 3219 West Division Street led to the humorous Jewish song parodies that won him great fame in October 1962 with his first album, My Son, The Folk Singer

Folk Singer's radio hit was the "Sarah Jackman" parody of "Frere Jacques," and that song's popularity helped the Folk Singer album sell more than 1 million copies and become the #1 album in the country. The album went Gold, and was quickly followed in December 1962 by My Son, The Celebrity. It also went Gold. Memorable songs from Celebrity include "Won't You Come Home, Disraeli," a parody of "Won't You Come Home, Bill Bailey," and "Harvey and Sheila," Sherman's parody of the Jewish folk song "Hava Nagilah."

Sherman's third album, My Son, The Nut, and "Hello Muddah, Hello Fadduh!" single were released in late July 1963. The song about the travails of boy at Camp Granada struck a cultural nerve that resulted in buyers "actually breaking down doors" of record stores, according to a report in Billboard. A month later, by the end of August, "Hello Muddah" was the #2 single in the country and Nut was the #1 album.

The Chicago Mayoral Proclamation came at the request of Mark Cohen, author of Overweight Sensation: The Life and Comedy of Allan Sherman (Brandeis U. Press, May 14, 2013). Overweight Sensation is the first biography of the song parodist, and it has been featured on NPRWNYCChicago TribuneLos Angeles Times, and more.

Eric Alterman, author and The Nation columnist, called Overweight Sensation a "remarkably well-researched, passionately written story of quite nearly tragic proportions."  Prof. Stephen Whitfield at Brandeis University praised it as a "superb, absorbing account." Prof. Victor L. Cahn at Skidmore College described the biography as an "entertaining, informative, and ultimately moving story."

Friday, August 23, 2013

Billboard: My Son, The Nut a Smash

From the front page of Billboard, August 24, 1963.

50th Anniversary Watch: My Son, The Nut Zooms Up the Charts

Sherman's My Son, The Nut album zooms to the top in just two weeks on the charts.

On Aug. 17, 1963, MSTN was #90 on the Billboard chart

A week later on Aug. 24, 1963, it was at #5.

Guess where it went on Aug. 31?

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

New Podcast About Allan Sherman Biography

In this podcast, I talk with Aaron Lansky, founder of the National Yiddish Book Center, about our guy Allan Sherman.

Click on image and enjoy.

Airline Passenger Reads Allan Sherman Biography

An Allan Sherman fan, and fan of Overweight Sensation, wrote today to report that "The person next to me on the plane was reading it, also."

Is there any better proof of the book's existence than seeing someone read it on a plane?

I think not. 


Hello Muddah Hits Australia in August '63.

On August 17, 1963, Billboard spotted the international sensation "Hello Muddah" was beginning to cause.

This was only the beginning.

50 YEARS AGO: My Son, The Nut Starts Ascent

On August 17, 1963, Billboard marked My Son, The Nut's climb to #1 when it highlighted the album as a national breakout hit.

Sherman's year of extraordinary fame that began in October 1962 was nearing its peak moment.

50 Years Ago: "Hello Muddah" Climbs The Charts

In Aug 1963, "Hello Muddah" was number 45 on the singles chart the week ending August 3.

The next week it jumped to 17.

And for the week ending August 17 it was number 7. 

And it kept on climbing.

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Sherman at the Top of His Game - Summer of 1963

A sign of Sherman's importance is his prominence in this Warner Bros. Records advertisement. 

My Son, The Nut is in the top slot.

In the summer of 1963, Sherman was a big star at the top of his game.

Ad in Billboard, Aug. 10, 1963


50 Years Ago This Week: My Son Mania Continues

Fifty years ago this week, Allan Sherman's third album in 10 months - My Son, The Nut - hit the market and started climbing the charts.

As the write-up notes, the album contains the hit single "Hello Muddah," mistakenly called "Dear Muddah."

"Album Reviews," Billboard, Aug. 10, 1963

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Terrific Historian of Am-Jewish Life Gives Sherman Bio Big Thumbs-Up

Brandeis U.'s Stephen Whitfield is a great historian, and his In Search of American Jewish Culture is a great book.

So it was wonderful to hear from him today and learn he thinks my Sherman bio is "a superb, absorbing account."

Thank you, Prof. Whitfield. 

LA Times On Sherman Bio

Read all about it here.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Allan Sherman Hosts Tonight Show August 5-9, 1963

It's a big 50th anniversary week for Allan Sherman.

August 4, 1963 - With “Hello Muddah” a hit and Sherman about to begin his week as guest host of Tonight, the most important newspaper in America finally gave in and recognized his existence. On August 4, 1963, the New York Times ran a fastidious feature on the performer that somehow managed to avoid using the word Jewish. 

August 5, 1963 - Sherman guest hosts Tonight show and challenges Cary Grant to come on the show and “let the public decide who is prettier.”

August 6, 1963 - Sherman gives Bill Cosby the big break the young comedian had been thirsting for: his first appearance on the Tonight show. This leads to Sherman producing Cosby's first album.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Well, I Guess I'm an Author!

I've been invited to the Berkeley Public Library Authors Dinner, the idea being that an author hosts each table purchased by Friends of the Library.

I'm humbled and honored. Very cool. February 8, 2014.