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Contact Patric J. Miller
Producer/Arranger (retired)

 

It was 28 Years Ago Today…
That this Christmas show was launched in clay…

All right…that's as far as we want to take any rip-off of Sgt. Pepper. The story and music behind the making of the Emmy Award Winning "Claymation Christmas Celebration" for CBS Television, and the subsequent album on Atlantic Records the following year, is fun, interesting, and frankly, one long lesson in "dreaming big to get your goals…but be careful what you wish for."

The basics:
December 21st, 1987- The Claymation Christmas Celebration was shown on the CBS Network- winning the ratings for that night (take that "Little Match Girl") and going on to win an Emmy Award. The special aired for five years on CBS, and was sold to the Disney network, where it languished in cable repeats, before slipping into obscurity.

November 1988- Atlantic Records releases a related album of music from the special, as well as several new arrangements of traditional Christmas carols- featuring countless NW musicians and singers.

The purpose of this site is not to tell everyone's story, as anyone who worked on this project has his or her own perspective and memories involved. It is simply to share some of the music and the stories behind the music, of one of the best loved, but hard to find Christmas specials, told from the prospective of the person who created the music, Patric Miller (me).

The reasons the special is so hard to find, and why the follow-up album is now considered a "collector's item," are a mystery to most, but are likely explained by the entangled mess of copyrights, publishing rights, and co-mingled (mangled?) trademarks that become prevalent by including a commercial advertising icon run amuck- the "California Raisins." They were a "late addition" to the concept- and in my opinion doomed the longevity of the final product. But, more on that later.

What began as a simple concept for a children's "direct to video" release for the holidays, morphed into an award-winning franchise of television specials, as well as launching the rise, and subsequent fall of Will Vinton Productions and the Claymation franchise. However, that story is one that played out in courtrooms and Portland media, with allegations of hostile takeovers, mismanagement of funds, and the draconian hand of an international tennis shoe manufacturer.

THIS story is about the simple joy, challenge, and creativity that started with some hastily produced demos of pigs mangling "Here we come a wassailing," and led to the final production seen by millions, and an album featuring local talent that was bought by…well, the number is still contended. But, that is another story.

Before beginning, read this SIMPLE DISCLAIMER.

These are my memories- and they come from an aging mind, cloaked in the haze of 25 years of living. They are from a chapter in my life that seems so distant and removed from my current life of being husband, father, grandfather, business owner, and mediocre golfer that it is almost like writing about someone else. With the passage of time comes the ability to forget the smallest details, names and places- and none are willingly misrepresented or deleted. So…please…keep three things in mind here. Nobody got rich on this project. Almost nobody from that era is still "in the business." And above all- I realize that posting music on a web site- even music that is almost impossible to find for commercial sale, borders on copyright law infringement. But…for any of the legal folks who work for whomever is still claiming ownership of this music, and continues to squash its release in commercial form…I own the publishing rights, kids. I am registered as such with ASCAP…so I have the right to share (without financial gain), this music for anyone who comes to listen.

Let's begin at the beginning…