National Ding-a-Ling Day is celebrated on December 12th of each year. The staff at National Whatever Day was unable to locate the origin of National Ding-a-Ling Day, however we believe it is linked to the 1972 hit record for Chuck Berry, “My Ding-a-Ling”.
The song tells of how the singer received two silver bells on a string from his grandmother, who calls them his ding-a-ling. According to the song, he plays with it in school, and holds on to it in dangerous situations like falling after climbing the garden wall, and swimming across a creek infested with snapping turtles. In the final verse, Berry admonishes “those of you who will not sing” and concludes that they “must be playing with [their] own ding-a-ling”.
The lyrics with their sly tone and innuendo (and the enthusiasm of Berry and the audience) caused many radio stations to refuse to play it, and British morality campaigner Mary Whitehouse tried unsuccessfully to get the song banned. Moreover, pop critics generally dislike the song (especially the fact that it was Berry’s sole #1 single in his career) and say that it is unworthy for someone who was so important in early rock ‘n’ roll (Alan Freeman once introduced the song by saying “oh Chuck baby, how could you!?!”). Nevertheless, Berry still likes it and on the recording calls it “our Alma Mater”.
The censorship of this song has continued decades later. In one case, for a re-run of American Top 40, some stations, such as WOGL in Philadelphia, replaced this song with an optional extra when it aired a rerun of a November 18, 1972 broadcast of AT40 (where it ranked at #14) on December 6, 2008. Among other stations, most Clear Channel-owned radio stations to whom the AT40 ’70s rebroadcasts were contracted did not air the rebroadcast that same weekend, although it was because they were playing Christmas music and not because of the controversy. Even back in 1972, some stations would refuse to play this song on AT40, even when it reached number one.