Friday, 1 February 2013

Patty Andrews R.I.P.

Patty Andrews, who with her two older sisters formed the Andrews Sisters, died 30 January 2013 at the age of 94. Patty sang lead with the group.

Patty Andrews was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on 16 February 1918. She loved music when she was growing up. It was Maxene who suggested that the three sisters form a singing group. They modelled their act after the close harmony group the Boswell Sisters.   She was only 12 when the Andrew Sisters won a talent competition at the Orpheum Theatre in Minneapolis and only 14 when they started performing publicly at county fairs and in vaudeville theatres. In 1937 they were signed by Decca Records. It was later that year that they had their first hit wit their version of "Bei Mir Bistu Shein." It would be followed by more hits from 1938 to 1940, including "Nice Work If You Can Get It," "Tu-li-Tulip Time," "Hold Tight, Hold Tight," "Beer Barrel Polka (Roll Out the Barrel)," "Say Si Si (Para Vigo Me Voy)," "The Woodpecker Song," "Ferryboat Serenade," "Beat Me Daddy, Eight to the Bar."  

Arguably the peak of the Andrews Sisters' career was during World War II. It was in 1941 that the group released what would become the song with which they were most identified. While "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" only went to #6 on the Billboard chart, it would prove to be their signature song and one that has lasted through the years. It has been covered by artists from Bette Midler to the Puppini Sisters. From 1942 to 1946 the Andrews Sisters regularly hit the top ten of the Billboard charts. Their hits during this period included "(I'll Be With You) In Apple Blossom Time," "Aurora," "The Shrine of St. Cecilia," "Three Little Sisters," "Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree,"   "Strip Polka," "Shoo-Shoo Baby," "Rum and Coca Cola," and "Money Is the Root of All Evil."

The Andrews would also appear in movies. In 1940 they were signed by Universal Pictures. Over the next seven years they appeared in such films as Argentine Nights (1940), Buck Privates (1941), In the Navy (1941), Follow the Boys (1944), Hollywood Canteen (1944), and Road to Rio (1947) .

While The Andrews Sisters did not hit the top ten of the Billboard singles chart quite as often, their career remained very healthy in the late Forties and into the early Fifties. They had such hits during the period as "Near You," "Civilization (Bongo, Bongo, Bongo)"(with Danny Kaye), "Toolie Oolie Doolie (The Yodel Polka)," "Underneath the Arches," "You Call Everybody Darling," "I Can Dream, Can't I," "I Wanna Be Loved," and "A Penny a Kiss, a Penny a Hug." In 1951 Patty Andrews decided to pursue a solo career and left the group. She had hits of her own with "Too Young" in 1951 and with "Suddenly There's a Valley" in 1955.  

The Andrews Sisters reunited in 1956 and signed a contract with Capitol Records, but their career never recovered. The singles and albums they released over the next several years did not chart. In 1967 the eldest sister, LaVerne, died of cancer. The remaining Andrews Sisters then broke up. Patty continued to perform solo.

The Andrews Sisters made a bit of a comeback in the Seventies. In 1971 Patty appeared in the revue Victory Canteen.  In 1974 Patty and Maxene appeared together in the Broadway, World War II homgage Over Here. In the late Seventies Patty Andrews regularly appeared as a judge on The Gong Show. In 1981 Patty began touring as a solo act.   U

ntil The Supremes in the Sixties, The Andrews Sisters were the most popular female vocal group of the 20th Century. Even after The Supremes, The Andrews Sisters could well be the most imitated female vocal group of all time. The McGuire Sisters, The Lennon Sisters, The Manhattan Dolls, and The Puppini Sisters owe something to the Andrews Sisters. Even male vocal groups were influenced by them, from The Four Freshmen to The Crewcuts. The Andrews Sisters influenced solo artists, including Mel Tormé, Bette Midler, Barry Manilow, and Christina Aguilera.   The reason the Andrews Sisters proved so influential is that they were innovative. They might have started out as imitators of the Boswell Sisters, but they went well beyond that. They combined close harmony with scat singing, and often sang both swiftly and powerfully. The end result was that they could easily overtake any band with which they sang. Beyond these stylistic innovations, the Andrews Sisters were also pioneers in new genres.  While they are primarily identified with boogie woogie and swing, some of their songs could be considered early examples of jump blues and rhythm and blues. As the Andrews Sisters' lead vocalist, Patty Andrews was then an influence on popular music in the latter half of the 20th Century and beyond.

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