David Rose was well-known within the music industry but today remains one of the more obscure artists to ever have a number one single in the United States. He was an arranger, songwriter, pianist, and orchestra leader. He was the musical director for The Red Skelton Show for 21 years and would win two of his four Emmy Awards for his work with The Little House On The Prairie television series.
His climb to number one began during 1958 when he was scoring a TV show named Burlesque. At the end of the production process he wrote eight bars of background music for a stripper scene. A short time later he was in the studio recording an album of string music, for which he was known. He needed a brass section for one track and with some leftover time had the orchestra and brass improvise on his old eight bars of music from Burlesque. And there ended the journey of “The Stripper” for several years.
Nearly four years later he recorded a single of “Ebb Tide” from the movie Sweet Bird Of Youth. A flip side was needed, so “The Stripper” was resurrected.
Los Angeles disc jockey Robert Q. Lewis turned the record over as a gag. He asked for music requests and whenever a listener called in to request a song, he would play “The Stripper.” This went on for nearly an hour with the song being played over and over again. His gag helped start its journey toward the top of the Billboard Magazine Pop Singles Chart.
“The Stripper” is still recognizable today. Just think of someone slowly taking off their clothes to music and most people will think of this tune. It is a brass laden instrumental with crashing cymbals over a string foundation. It would become a highlight of Rose’s concerts for the rest of his life.
Sometimes music defines an era. If that is the case here, I missed a lot as a 12 year old. “The Stripper” may have only spent one week at number one but 50 years ago this week, it ruled the music world, and who knows what else.