'A Charlie Brown Christmas'
Photo: ABC Photo Archives/Getty Images
Vince Guaraldi Trio's 'A Charlie Brown Christmas': For The Record
"That's what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown." — Linus Van Pelt, A Charlie Brown Christmas
In late 1964, producer Lee Mendelson had just completed filming his documentary, Charlie Brown & Charles Schultz. As he was driving across San Francisco's famed Golden Gate Bridge, he happened to hear Vince Guaraldi's GRAMMY-winning jazz composition "Cast Your Fate To The Wind" on his car radio, and subsequently reached out to him about composing some music for the documentary.
Two weeks later, Guaraldi called Mendelson and performed an early version of "Linus And Lucy" over the telephone.
While the documentary wasn't broadcast until May 1969, Coca-Cola reached out to Mendelson just a few months after he and Guaraldi first met and commissioned a new Christmas special based on the Peanuts characters. Mendelson knew immediately that he wanted Guaraldi involved.
For the soundtrack to A Charlie Brown Christmas, Guaraldi composed jazz-based interpretations of classic Christmas carols such as "O Tannenbaum," "The Christmas Song" and "Hark! The Herald Angels Sing," and added in original compositions, including "Linus And Lucy" and "Christmas Time Is Here." (There's also a cover of Beethoven's "Für Elise.") The 11-song set was recorded by the Vince Guaraldi Trio, rounded drummer Jerry Granelli and bassist Fred Marshall.
Following the first broadcast of A Charlie Brown Christmas in December 1965, the 30-minute special has become a holiday season staple, airing annually. Vince Guaraldi Trio would go on to be commissioned to write music for a total of 17 Peanuts television specials, as well as the 1969 feature film, A Boy Named Charlie Brown.
To date, the A Charlie Brown Christmas soundtrack has been certified quadruple-platinum by the RIAA, and in 2007, it was formally inducted into the GRAMMY Hall Of Fame.