Dancer, Prancer and Nervous was a fictitious reindeer trio conceived by veteran record executive Russ Regan. He previously worked as a record promoter for Motown Records in its early years. He is also credited as the man who gave a new name for the Californian group Carl and the Passions – the Beach Boys. He had also been the head of many record labels such as Uni, 20th Century Fox Records and Polygram Records. He got his start in the business by working as a composer and record producer in the 1950s. One of Regan’s well-known works is the Christmas novelty single in 1959 “The Happy Reindeer” from the fictional trio of reindeers Dancer, Prancer and Nervous. It was a Top 40 hit in December that year.
The musical career journey of Russ Regan
The brainchild behind the fictitious trio of singing reindeers Dancer, Prancer and Nervous, is Russ Regan. Regan is a songwriter, record producer and long-time record executive. His birth name is Harold Rustigan and is believed to be born in California. He is of Armenian descent.
Before venturing to the higher echelons of the music business as a record executive, Regan started in the music business as a solo singer, as well as being a member of a few groups such the Check Mates and the Rowdies.
“The Happy Reindeer” — a hit by “singing reindeers” Dancer, Prancer and Nervous
Regan went on working in the industry now as a composer and record producer. His first notable hit was Dancer, Prancer and Nervous’ holiday hit “The Happy Reindeer.” The song was blended the elements of “Rudolph, the Rednosed Reindeer” in terms of the story line, and the vocals whose effects remind one of the Chipmunks. This Capitol Records-released gimmick proved to be enough to garner a #34 peak spot on the Billboard pop charts in December 1959.
The one-hit wonder “animals” eventually changed their name into the Singing Reindeers and released their only other single “I Wanna Be An Easter Bunny”, which flopped.
After his only notable hit, Regan went on recording a handful more, either releasing them under his own name or other pseudonyms. For instance, he released a record “Joan of Love” (b/w “Adults Only”) under Regan’s own name (also on Capitol), and another single titled “Calling All Arms” under the name of of Davy Summers (on Warner Brothers Records), which was produced by Sonny Bono.
Regan as a record producer and label executive
Regan was also instrumental in forming Warner Brothers’ pop and soul subsidiary label Loma Records.
Regan moved on to more business aspects of the music industry during the early 1960s. He began in the record promotion with Motown Records during its early years. One of the records Regan helped promoted was the Marvelettes’ “Please Mr. Postman” which eventually topped the charts.
He went on to promote other records by the The Supremes, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, Stevie Wonder, Marvin Gaye, The Temptations.
Regan is also cited as the one who suggested the name The Beach Boys. The band, who then called themselves The Pendletons (or Carl and the Passions) would like to have a change of name when they had just through recording a song named “Surfin’.”
Regan went on to become a successful record executive, becoming a head for Uni, 20th Century Fox Records and Polygram records. He had worked with and given the path of stardom for such artists as Elton John (in his first American record deal at Uni), Barry White, Olivia Newton-John, Neil Diamond, as well as the Beach Boys. As of recently Regan heads an independent record label called Quality.