What is Christmas without hearing the jazzy “Linus & Lucy”? Everyone has that image in their head of Snoopy jamming on a bass, or hopping up and down on Schroeder’s piano. It is among the most popular Christmas music albums of all time. The Vince Guaraldi Trio consisted of Jerry Granelli on drums, Fred Marshall on double bass, and Vince Guaraldi on piano and Hammond organ.
In 1997 Fantasy issued a Starbucks Exclusive edition of the album, sold only through Starbucks retail. This version omitted “Greensleeves” and had very different cover art and new liner notes.
A Charlie Brown Christmas was the first prime-time animated TV special based upon the comic strip Peanuts, by Charles M. Schulz.
Initially sponsored by Coca-Cola, the special aired on CBS from its debut in 1965 through 2000, and has aired on ABC since 2001. For many years it aired only annually, but is now telecast at least twice during the Christmas season. The special has been honored with both an Emmy and Peabody Award.
A Charlie Brown Christmas is also one of CBS’s most successful specials, airing annually more times on that network than even MGM’s classic motion picture The Wizard of Oz. Oz was shown thirty-one times on CBS, but not consecutively as the Charlie Brown special was; between 1968 and 1976, NBC aired the film.
The special has not been seen in its original, uncut form since the first three telecasts in 1965, 1966 and 1967. Much of this is due to the opening and closing credits containing references to Coca-Cola, the show’s original sponsor. Specific, acknowledged cuts are:
- The main titles have Linus crashing into a Coca-Cola sign (complete with the main titles and the creator of this cartoon) after Snoopy has spun both him and Charlie Brown around with Linus’ blanket. In the versions currently available, the viewer never sees where Linus’ trajectory lands him. Instead, they see Charlie Brown landing towards a pine tree which causes more snow to fall on top of him. The removed clip of Linus crashing into a Coca-Cola sign is seen in a 1965 promo for the film.
- In the “fence” scene, where several of the Peanuts gang are attempting to knock cans off a fence with snowballs, Linus is seen knocking down a can with his blanket. In the original airing, this was a Coke can, but it was later replaced with a nondescript can.
- The final end credit originally had a voice-over saying, “Brought to you from the people in your town who bottle Coca-Cola.” This is why the “Hark!” chorus sung at the end trails off oddly before the song would normally end, as an announcer originally did a voice over at this point in the credits to repeat and reemphasize the local bottler’s well wishes to the TV audience (watch clip here: ). This edit was never changed, but in newer versions, a quick fade-out and fade-in revealed the “THE END” screen, in order to make the audio-fade seem more natural.