2003   JUNE 30   #181

Roberta Lee and Thurl Ravenscroft - Wing Ding Ding/You Wanna Talk About Texas

It must have been around 1979 when I first heard the name Thurl Ravenscroft, announced by Dr. Demento following a Halloween week broadcast of the song "Grim Grinning Ghosts" from Disneyland's Haunted Mansion. I was taken mostly with the voice but also by the unusual name.

Over the next few years, I heard several more tracks by Thurl Ravenscroft, enough to begin to recognize his voice. I soon realized that I owned several recordings on which Thurl was featured, including the soundtrack to "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" and a song my family had had on a tape recording of 78's since long before I was born, "Where Will the Dimple Be".

By the early '80's, I was actively seeking out Thurl music, which was easy to find on Disney recordings, but which could also be found by looking carefully through the stacks of 45's at the largest of used record stores. I also spent $40, via mail order, on a bizarre album called "12 Great Hits" by "The Thurl Ravenscroft Singers", which allowed me to see his face for the first time, smiling at me from the cover. Thurl, however, only appears on one of the 12 Great Hits, all of which are choral remakes of Connie Francis records! (I'd love to hear the story behind that album.) Later, of course, I also learned that Thurl was prominently featured on one of the very biggest (and best) hits of the '50's, Rosemary Clooney's "This Ole House".

In those pre-internet days, it took me forever to find out background information about Thurl Ravenscroft, but I eventually got his business address, and discovered the missing piece of information (for me, anyway): that he is (of course) the voice of Tony the Tiger. Several friends and I drafted a letter to him, requesting to form a fan club, but we never heard back.

For me, the most unusual element of Thurl collecting is coming across a variety of records he made, during the '50's, for a string of small record labels. I find most of these records to be fairly wonderful, but am quite confused as to the intended audience. In most of these singles, he either sings romantic fare, as a solo artist, or is teamed on lighter, sometimes humorous romantic duets with young unknown female vocalists. It is baffling to me that any record label's staff would think that Thurl's voice seemed likely to be one which would captivate the hearts of young women eager for the next Tony Martin, Perry Como or Pat Boone, but this does strike me as the likely intent of these releases.

The tracks heard here are from both sides of one of my favorite Thurl singles, one I found at a giant (and wholly overpriced) used record store in Chicago at least 15 years ago.

- Bob Purse

TT-3:51 / 3.5MB / 128kbps 44.1khz
from X Records 7" Single 4X-0185

Phil writes:
The "All Things Thurl" website: http://members.aol.com/allthurl/thurl2.htm - It's about as close as a fan club as you can get. Very thorough.