For a special President’s Day edition of this series, let’s take a look at a fairly innocuous but hugely popular album that was blasted into obscurity in the blink of an eye.
Few people remember the name Vaughn Meader today, but for about a year in the early ’60s he was one of the hottest acts in the world not from Liverpool. As you might be able to tell from this cover photo, The First Family concerns President John F. Kennedy and his family. It was a parody album, recorded in front of a live audience, and it featured Meader as Kennedy. He was sort of the Rich Little of his day.
Thanks to Meader’s spot-on impersonation and America’s obsession with all things Kennedy, The First Family hit #1 on the Billboard album chart and won a Grammy award in 1963. Meader became an overnight sensation, and was the toast of the town. A second volume, released in the spring of ’63, sold fairly well.
If you want to check out most of the first side, here you go:
Pretty innocuous stuff, no? Exactly. But it didn’t seem so harmless after President Kennedy was assassinated on November 22, 1963. Meader’s album was immediately pulled off record store shelves and basically vanished overnight, as did his career. He could never escape his greatest success, and was forever linked with President Kennedy.
And how’s this for a weird coincidence – The First Family was recorded on October 22, 1962, the same night as President Kennedy’s speech to America during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Spooky, man.
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