Alabama’s Jingle Writers | What About This?

If you grew up watching TV or listening to
the radio in this state, you’re probably familiar with the jingles associated with these iconic
Alabama based companies. What if I told you that almost all these catchy tunes that are so ingrained in your memory
were written, produced or recorded in Birmingham by these three guys? Meet Ed, Don and Tony; Alabama’s jingle writers. In about 1957 WAPI radio was approached by
a guy that just opened a new company and he said, we’re going to start off fast hamburger joint. And the name of it was Jack’s. Henry Kimbrell was our music director and
he started writing and he and I started arguing because he wanted the jingle to end in no rhyme. I wanted this thing to rhyme. He won by the way. It ran for at least 30 years. Jingles can have a long life if they’re singable and people remember the melody. And a perfect example of that would be one
that we did in excess of 35 years ago for Handy TV Appliance. Handy TV appliance saves you money. It’s a fact! And they’re still using that today. In the case of a jingle, you know the thing
that you’re trying to do is you’re trying to make something that people will remember,
that’s instantly recognizable. The Pizitz jingles, their entire image they
wanted to have it to be glamorous. They wanted to to say, you know, style and
all that stuff. Long story short, basically what I did was
I introduced that jingle with an upright bass. It’s a look. A Feeling. Putting on Pizitz. With revealing all that makes you, you. Putting on Pizitz. Uniquely, completely, to say it distinctly. You’re got style. I’ve got Pizitz. And every year they did four or five different
image versions, you know on video for that campaign. Bruno’s was another chain in Birmingham and it was a grocery chain. They approached Henry Kimbrell, my mentor at WAPI. He wrote a jingle and we sped it up. We mechanically sped the machine up so that
the voice on the jingle would sound like a little bear. That ran intermittently with all these jingles. It was just a big deal at the time. Quite honestly, I’ll tell you one of the better
writers that I’ve had over the years is my partner in this venture, my wife Betty. One of the more memorable things that we did
that she wrote was the Golbro jingle. Golbro was another company that was a jewelry
company in Birmingham for years and years and years. And oh, by the way, Gold Bro, will save you
money. We had to put their slogan in there. They had to have a tie to that diamond so. Tony got his start as a jingle singer for
Don and eventually became an engineer and the music director at Boutwell Studios where
he worked on many jingles for Ed. Jingles like this one. This one that I did that was a demo. I just got this one guy to play a couple of
instruments and sing it. I went in the studio and we kinda had an idea
that it was supposed to kind of have a little bit of a Western feel. This is what was recorded for the drums. Then we did another track of me doing finger
snaps. Then we brought in a bass player that played
the little bassline and then we brought in a guitar player that played the little guitar
line and me and a fella named Charlie Jimbroni went out in the studio and did the “Chevy
Man”. It even had a coca cola bottle being being
“dinged” on in it. And uh, just for the fun of it, we just put
that ding on it. Turned it into the client and waited a few
days and they called back and said, well, we like it. And I said, well good, now we’ll do the real
thing. And they said, no, we want that. I had to sell it at a discount, but it’s still
running today. While many of these jingles were for local
companies and limited in their geographic reach. There were other projects that were more regional,
national, and even international in scope. Ed wrote music for Sabena Airlines in Belgium and won a Clio for his work with SouthernAirways. While Don did jingles for Little Debbie and
won a Clio award for his work with Bell Systems. The bidding on these jobs often involved competing
against agencies in much larger markets. When you’re competing against what not only
advertising agencies, consider the best of the best, and you consider them the best of
the best and you win that creative bidding… It’s really, really a thrilling thing if you
will. That you’ve created a melody that people can
remember and still sing years later. It’s a good feeling. It almost feels like you’ve written a hit record. It’s heard a lot. It’s played a lot and people remember it even
though they don’t know who you are and don’t know that you did it. Anybody in the ad business will tell you that’s
the whole purpose. You get them thinking about it. That’s great business. If you think of something fun, write a jingle. Why not?

6 thoughts on “Alabama’s Jingle Writers | What About This?

  1. This was an interesting video, but the fake lines in all the archive footage really detract from the visual appeal of your piece.

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