Chris Johnson: Catching up with a chipmunk

April 27, 2014 

One of the first albums I ever owned -- on some sort of material called "vinyl" -- was that true classic by one of the most underrated, hard-working groups that came out of the 1950s and '60s.

Of course, I'm talking about Alvin and the Chipmunks' seminal 1981 album "Urban Chipmunk." Today, we're catching up with one of the chipmunks, Theodore, who left the group shortly after the album was released to pursue solo projects. Theodore was in Columbus promoting his upcoming projects and sat down for a moment to chat with us.

So, Theodore, what …?

It's Ted, now. I'm 55 years old. Don't treat me like I'm a freakin' kid.

OK. So, Ted, what do you have coming up?

Well, last year I taped an episode of "My 600-Ounce Life" for TLC. And I'll be on an upcoming episode of "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo."

What part did you land on "Honey Boo Boo"?

Dinner. Well, maybe it was just a snack. But I got away. Obviously.

Now, I heard you left the group in 1982, but you were in those live-action chipmunk movies, right?

No, that wasn't me. I'm a cartoon and proud of it, and I ain't doing no live-action stuff. Bunch of sellouts just after a buck with that live-action crap.

Why did you leave the group?

Alvin and I began to clash. Superstardom had gone to his head, man. He didn't think he needed to rehearse. Simon and I were carrying the group by 1980 while Alvin would be back in the bus with every female chipmunk, mole and ferret that came along.

But you're brothers.

That's all PR. Promoters just threw us together. I'm from Toledo. Alvin's Canadian. Heck, Simon's only half-munk -- his mother was a squirrel.

Wow. I had no idea. Now, I understand you had some addiction issues in the '80s.

Well, yeah. Who didn't back then? I was running with some of the folks in the cartoon biz who had some trouble adjusting to life after stardom -- Shaggy, Elroy Jetson, Bamm-Bamm Rubble, or BBR as we know him. Wile E. Coyote, too. He was strung out on pain-killers. He final

ly got clean, sued Acme and he's doing OK now.

And you?

Oh, I'm clean. But the '80s … whew. Got hooked on M&Ms. I was poppin' 'em left and right. Red, green, blue, yellow, orange, even the brown ones, man -- I did it all. But I got clean in 1995. I was hanging out with Droopy on a binge in Vegas, and we had this like 42-ounce family size bag. It is true what they say about dogs and chocolate, man. Scared my tail straight.

How's Dave?

Who cares? Let me tell you: Dave Seville was abusive and ran off with millions that we made. Folks just think he yelled at Alvin a lot. That b------ beat the fur off me. I got depressed, went a little nuts. I think that's why I turned to M&Ms.

Tell me about …

Sorry, man. Interview's over. Told you you had three minutes. I'm a busy rodent, and my ride's here.

Wait, isn't that ..."

Danny Bonaduce. Yep. We're filming "Sharkmunk" up in the ATL next week.

-- Connect with Chris Johnson at

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