Starting in 1962, The Sound of the City became WEBR Radio’s theme song, and it’s one of the sounds that makes Buffalo, Buffalo.
Chances are you’ve heard it enough times over the 56 years since it debuted that you might even know all the words, but get ready to hear it a bit differently from now on.
“The Sound of the City” was rewritten and resung and for many radio stations and cities around the country– Buffalo wasn’t even first. The son was originally written for San Francisco radio station KSFO, which was owned by Gene Autry.
Johnny Mann, who was best known as the music director on the Joey Bishop Show, wrote “The Sound of the City,” and the track is credited to the Johnny Mann Singers.
For the original San Francisco version, as well as the Buffalo version, among those nameless faceless Johnny Mann singers was Thurl Ravenscroft.
You might not know his name, but you know Ravenscroft’s work. While Boris Karloff did the speaking parts in the original “Grinch Who Stole Christmas” cartoon movie, it was the big voiced Thurl who did all the singing parts.
Ravenscroft’s bellowing voice is probably most recognizable as the voice of Tony the Tiger, the spokesman for Frosted Flakes.
Next time you listen to “The Sound of City,” make sure you listen for the deep throaty vibrato, and know that “it’s grrrrreat.”