OK, raise your hand if you’ve ever been to a strip club. I know there are more of you who have, you just don’t want to admit it. When I was in the Air Force, back in my younger, wilder days, that was the place to go with my buddies in the evening after we got off duty. I was always the designated driver because I didn’t drink and could be relied upon to be sober at the end of the night. The music they played at these establishments was an assortment of different tunes, music to take off your clothes. David Rose has matched that feeling perfectly in his song “The Stripper.”
David Rose wrote and recorded “The Stripper” four years earlier in 1958. At the time it was written, it really didn’t have a name. Rose wrote it as a background for a television program called Burlesque, which starred Dan Dailey and Joan Blondell. It was only eight measures long to begin with.
Four years later, Rose was in the studio recording a single for the song “Ebb Tide” and needed something to put on the B-side of the record. He remembered this short piece he had written before and told the orchestra to “play around with it.” That little eight measures became the song “The Stripper.” While “Ebb Tide” is a nice song, no one was playing it on the radio. In Los Angeles, a disc jockey named Robert Q Lewis liked the B-side of the record and started playing “The Stripper.” One day, he played only that song for 45 minutes straight on his radio program. Los Angeles thought it was great and it went to number one there, before finding it’s way to the rest of the country.
David Rose is known more for his orchestral work and for writing theme songs for television shows than he is for writing hit records. He was born in London in 1910 and his family immigrated to the United States when he was seven. He later became an American Citizen, joined his high school orchestra and then went to college at the Chicago College of Music. He became a composer and an arranger and went to work for NBC radio in Chicago.
His first hit was in 1943 with “Holiday for Strings” which peaked at number two and was a million selling record. But Rose was not the sort of musician that hits the charts. He charted again in 1944 and then didn’t show again until 1962 with “The Stripper.” If you count only the rock era, then David Rose is truly a one-hit wonder since “The Stripper” is the only charting song he had after 1955.
Rose went on to score many movies and television shows. He wrote for Bonanza and in 1975 he scored his 1000th television show for Little House on the Prairie. David Rose died in 1990 at the age of eighty of heart disease.
“The Stripper” debuted on the pop chart on June 2, 1962 and stayed at number one just one week, but it made instrumental history.