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Stan Freberg

Hip and irreverent, Stan Freberg was the last network radio comic, a trailblazing satirist whose work greatly expanded the vocabulary of the comedy form. While most postwar comedians used radio and records merely as a springboard for more lucrative film and television gigs, Freberg pushed the envelope in both mediums, creating high-concept musical comedies and sound collages that revolutionized the audio format while setting the stage for the hallucinatory sonic visions of the Firesign Theatre and the National Lampoon troupes.

Born in Pasadena, California, in 1926, Freberg broke into performing with work in children's puppet shows; while still in his teens, he hopped a bus to Los Angeles and won an audition at the famed Warner Bros. cartoon studios. In short time he was working (albeit uncredited) alongside voice-over genius Mel Blanc on characters like the Goofy Gophers and Pete Puma. Additionally, he contributed to Bob Clampett's puppet series Time for Beany, the precursor to the animated favorite Beany and Cecil.

By the age of 16, Freberg graduated to regular work as a radio announcer, a path he continued for the remainder of the decade. In 1951 he signed to Capitol and released his first novelty single, "John and Marsha," a scathing satire of romantic treacle. After a handful of other releases, he issued "St. George and the Dragonet" in 1953, a painstakingly accurate and lavishly produced parody of the Jack Webb series Dragnet far more advanced than any other record to date; "St. George" became the era's fastest-selling single, eventually topping the charts.

In 1957, Freberg was tapped to take over Jack Benny's CBS radio program while Benny took the summer months off. Although radio comedy was in its death throes, Freberg made every conceivable attempt to resuscitate the form; his show was visionary, taking full advantage of the broadcast medium's capabilities to create elaborate comic pastiches that pushed the boundaries of vocal and sound effects use. The series, which ran for 13 weeks, won critical raves and immediate legendary status; due to the ascendancy of television, it was also the final original network radio comedy show ever broadcast.

After the 1958 single "Green Chri$tma$," a highly controversial swipe at holiday commercialization, Freberg moved to the LP format for 1961's Presents the United States of America, a full-length vaudeville-style musical comedy written especially for the recorded medium. A wildly ambitious satiric history of American life, the album won widespread acclaim, and remains a pivotal landmark in the evolution of recorded comedy. However, after releasing the follow-up, 1966's Freberg Underground Show #1 (an album of sketch comedy Freberg described as "pay radio"), Freberg flirted with Broadway before shifting the majority of his energies to the lucrative advertising industry, a longtime sideline that became his primary focus as the '60s wore on. Largely credited with introducing the concept of the "funny" commercial, full of pop culture allusions and often poking fun at the nature of advertising, Freberg continued working in advertising for several decades, and won 20 Clio Awards, the ad industry's highest honor.

In 1988, Freberg published his autobiography, It Only Hurts When I Laugh. Two years later, he returned to broadcasting with Freberg Here, a long-running series of two-minute daily commentaries produced for National Public Radio. On Thanksgiving 1991, NPR aired The New Stan Freberg Show, a one-hour special that marked his first return to long-form comedy in decades; finally, in 1996, he released Presents the United States of America, Vol. 2: The Middle Years, the long-awaited sequel to his most popular work. Freberg briefly returned to television in 1997 as a regular on The Weird Al Show, a children's program starring Weird Al Yankovic, the song parodist who often cited Freberg as a key influence. A four-disc box set, Tip of the Freberg: Collection 1951-1998, was released in 1999. While Freberg continued to do voice work into the new millennium and recorded an album with his second wife Hunter Freberg in 2010, Songs in the Key of Frebeg, his health began to fail him. Freberg died on April 7, 2015; his family cited the cause of death as pneumonia and age-related illnesses. ~ Jason Ankeny, Rovi
full bio

Selected Discography

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Track List: Stan Freberg Presents: The United States Of America, Volume 1: The Early Years

Disc 1
Disc 2

Comments

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WOW, RIP!
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pegasi77
This freaked me out. Copy and paste this on ten comments and you will have the best day of your life tomorrow. You will either get kissed or get asked out. If you thus break this chain you will see a dead girl In you room tonight. In the next 53 someone will say I love you or I'm sorry
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bevbevan
I have a 78 rpm of John And Marsha, which I cannot play since my Victrola died some years ago and is now a piece of antique furniture. So, the re-release of Stan Freburg on cd is welcome. Great!!!
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Stan Freberg is a national trsasure. Both volumes are great, as are the other spoofs that he has done.
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Stan Freberg and all his co-conspirat o r , actor/voice over comedians have driven me to relentless imitation over 50 Years. Paul Freese, June Forey, the Firesign Theater (since the late 60's while in Foggy Town), Jonathon Winters, Robin Williams, Bob and Ray are all favorites from this generation.
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I played his record when I was 10yrs old its still great
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No-one has ever lampooned soap operas better than Stan Freberg did in this sketch.
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This(Holiday For Strings) is actually Stan's version of a song that Spike Jones also parodied. This is great, but Spike Jones' is better.

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