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Jersey Band Forever Tied to Character Who Turns 45 This Year

grinch
l.b.creek / flickr

On December 18th, 1966, the birth of one of the most memorable holiday characters was born.  He was not jolly like Santa, or sweet like Rudolph.  He was a “Mean One” who was bitter and downright hateful toward the idea of Christmas, but by the end of his heist of “Whoville” he learned the true meaning of Christmas and created a holiday cartoon special that has gained in popularity over the years.  How The Grinch Stole Christmas will celebrate its 45th birthday this year, and over the years the Dr. Seuss special has spawned a successful big screen live-action version, and a version of the main song of the cartoon – centering around Mr. Grinch – brings one New Jersey band back into light every year for nearly 20 years.

You need to back to the late 80s to set up how the birth of one of the best holiday song covers was born.  In 1987, A Very Special Christmas was released giving a new generation a bunch of modern sounding Christmas songs that today are absolute staples for everyone.  The artists were mainly some of the hottest mainstream artists from pop and rock from the era.  A Very Special Christmas 2 came out in 1992, and once again a huge success using the same formula from 5 years earlier and more new classics were born.

The Alternative format of music was truly in its infant stages during this time, and there were not many holiday songs that fit the “format”.  One band who sort of took notice of this was a group of guys from Westfield, NJ – The Whirling Dervishes.  The group had been carving out a following in the local music scene, had been seen by many on the Jersey shore at the legendary Stone Pony and many other places up and down the state.

In the early 90s, the Dervishes took upon themselves to try and create something fun for the holidays that could be played at Alternative stations around the area.  The end result was their cover of “You’re A Mean One Mr. Grinch”.  The response to their creation was immediate – many who heard the song knew this was edgy, unique and addicting.  This helped the band get a national release (Grinch CD) and more attention then they ever had before.

The band managed to garner more national attention when they became the first unsigned bands to have a video on MTV for “Strange and Wonderful”.  The video debut on 120 Minutes – the classic Alt Rock video show on Sunday nights with then host Lewis Largent.  The vidoe nearly garnered the band the very elusive Breakthrough Video status for the song and it’s creative video that was created by the Dervishes’ own Jerry Herr.  Judge for yourself:

Sadly The Whirling Dervishes did not break wide open like many thought the Jersey band would.  They maintain major cult status because of The Grinch – forever tied to the Dr. Seuss character.  Over the last 15+ years, their cover has been played thousands of times throughout the country, and in various different radio formats.  Today the band’s lead singer Don Dazzo still performs today with a group called Everlounge – everything retro that is fun, and yes they have been known to pull out The Grinch this time of year (www.everlounge.com).  Former Dervishes guitarist Bob Ardrey and keyboardist Billy Siegel are still playing with Don in this new outfit.

In 2000, Jim Carey brought the beloved Grinch to the big screen in a live-action setting under the guidance of Ron Howard.  The end result is yet another Christmas classic – the film busted over $260 million at the box office in the USA, and added about another $100 million in foreign markets.

Carey and the movie version of How The Grinch Stole Christmas comes back to TV on December 2nd on ABC Family  (8pm), the cartoon celebrates an early 45th birthday on December 7th on the Cartoon Network (7:30pm), and “You’re A Mean One Mr. Grinch” will pop up on your radio somewhere amongst your travels this holiday season.  Don’t be afraid to ask for it – enjoy it right now:

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