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The First Family (album): Wikis

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The First Family
Studio album by Vaughn Meader
Released 1962
Genre Comedy
Label Cadence Records
Professional reviews

The First Family is a comedy album recorded on October 22, 1962, as a good-natured parody of President John F. Kennedy, both as Commander-in-Chief and as a member of a large, well-known political family. Issued by Cadence Records, it was honored as the "largest and fastest selling record in the history of the record industry" selling at more than a million copies per week for the first six and one-half weeks in distribution, by January it had sold more than 7 million copies. By time time of the release of The First Family - Volume Two, the sequel, it had sold 7.5 million copies — unprecedented for any album at the time, let alone a comedy album.

Contents

Cast

The First Family starred stand-up comedian and impersonator Vaughn Meader as Kennedy and Naomi Brossart as the First Lady. Meader's skill at impersonating Kennedy was honed on the stand-up circuit—with his New England accent naturally close to Kennedy's familiar (and often parodied) Harvard accent, he needed to adjust his voice only slightly to sound almost exactly like the President. Brossart was a theatre actress and model making her recording début.[1]

The album also featured the writing and voice talent of Earle Doud, Bob Booker, Jim Lehner, Bradley Bolke, Chuck McCann, Bob McFadden, and Norma MacMillan. It was recorded in front of a live studio audience.

Meader later revealed, "A lot of people don't know this, but we recorded The First Family on the night of October 22, 1962, the same night as John F. Kennedy's Cuban Missile Crisis Speech. The audience was in the studio and had no idea of the drama that was taking place. But the cast had heard the speech and our throats almost dropped to our toes, because if the audience had heard the Cuban Missile Speech, we would not have received the reaction we did."

Effect on popular culture

Within weeks, many Americans could recite favorite lines from the record (including "the rubber schwan [swan] is mine," and "move ahead ... with great vigah [vigor]," the latter lampooning the President's own words). The album poked fun at Kennedy's PT-109 history; the rocking chairs he used for his painful back; the Kennedy clan's well-known athleticism, football games and family togetherness; children in the White House; and Jackie Kennedy's soft-spoken nature and her redecoration of the White House; and many other bits of knowledge that the public was eager to consume. Kennedy himself was said to have given copies of the albums as Christmas gifts, and once greeted a Democratic National Committee group by saying, "Vaughn Meader was busy tonight, so I came myself."[2] At one press conference, Kennedy was asked if the album had produced "annoyment (sic) or enjoyment." He jokingly responded, "I listened to Mr. Meader's record and, frankly, I thought it sounded more like Teddy than it did me. So, now he's annoyed."[3]

The First Family album won the Grammy Award for Album of the Year in 1963. That March, most of the same cast recorded a follow-up album, The First Family Volume Two, a combination of spoken-word comedy and songs. The sequel was released in the spring of 1963.

Immediately upon hearing of Kennedy's assassination, producers Booker and Doud (along with Cadence president Archie Bleyer) pulled both albums from sales, and had all unsold copies destroyed so as not to seemingly "cash in" on the President's death. Both albums remained out of print for many years, until they were finally issued on CD together in 1999. The CD is currently available from S'more Entertainment [1].

In 1981, a new album titled The First Family Rides Again was issued, co-produced by Earle Doud, and starring impressionist Rich Little as then-President Ronald Reagan [2] [3].

Track listing

The First Family

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Act I

  • "The Experiment"
  • "After Dinner Conversations"
  • "The Malayan Ambassador"
  • "Relatively Speaking"
  • "Astronauts"
  • "Motorcade"
  • "The Party"
  • "The Tour"

Act II

  • "But Vote!!"
  • "Economy Lunch"
  • "The Decision"
  • "White House Visitor"
  • "Press Conference"
  • "The Dress"
  • "Saturday Night, Sunday Morning"
  • "Auld Lang Syne"
  • "Bedtime Story"

The First Family Volume Two

Act I

  • "The Announcement"
  • "An Evening With JFK"
  • "1958"
  • "The Trial"
  • "The Law"
  • "The Crisis"
  • "The Concert"
  • "The First Daughter"
  • "Biography"

Act II

  • "The First Family March"
  • "Taxes"
  • "The Movie"
  • "Caroline's First Date"
  • "Stop The World"
  • "The Brothers Three"
  • "1996"
  • "Equal Time"

Chart positions

Year Chart Position
1962 Billboard Pop Albums (Billboard 200) (mono) 1
1963

References

Footnotes

  1. ^ Bob Booker and Earle Doud (October 1962). "Album notes for The First Family". Collectibles Records.  
  2. ^ "Vaughn Meader, Satirist of Kennedy Family, Dies". washingtonpost.com. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A14717-2004Oct31.html. Retrieved 3 April 2006.  
  3. ^ JFK: As It Happened. A&E, November 22, 1988

External links

Preceded by
My Son, the Folk Singer by Allan Sherman
Billboard 200 number-one album (mono)
December 15, 1962 - March 8, 1963
Succeeded by
Jazz Samba by Stan Getz and Charlie Byrd

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