Laverne (b. 1911), Maxine (b. 1916) and Patty (b. 1918) Andrews were three girls from next door – well, to be more specific- Minneapolis, Minnesota. They were real-life sisters who had the fastest, loudest harmony this side of the equator. Patty sang lead soprano, Maxine the second soprano and Laverne rounded out the sound with her reverberating contralto or bass. They were hep enough to be pin-up girls and at the same time; All- American sweethearts with strong family values.
Singing with swing bands and playing seven shows per day on the vaudeville circuit, the Andrews Sisters criss-crossed the United States for five years, from 1932 through 1937. Salaries ranged from one-dollar per day for the three of them, to the astronomic sum of $35.00 per week. They ended their tour with the Leon Blasco Band in New York City. Out of cash and no prospects on the horizon, the girls were headed back to Minneapolis and secretarial school, when they were asked to perform live at the Hotel New Yorker, and made their radio debut that evening as well.
Meanwhile, across town, Decca Records president Dave Kapp was riding home in a taxicab and caught the Andrews Sisters radio debut. He called Lou Levy, a New York theatrical agent and ordered him to find those girls!
In a scene right out of a Busby Berkeley movie, Lou Levy finally found the girls the next morning in the soda fountain at the Edison Hotel. “I’m looking for the sister act that sang with the Tommy Dorsey Orchestra last night.” Lou proclaimed. The Andrews Sisters whirled around on their soda fountain stools and announced – ‘We’re those girls!’
The next morning at 9 o’clock, the sisters auditioned with seven songs and won Dave Kapp over. They were signed to Decca Records for $50.00 per record. And the rest, as they say and pardon the cliché… is show business history.
The Andrews Sisters were the most successful female vocal group of the first half of the 20th Century. Between 1938 and 1951, the girls had 113 singles chart entries, an average of more than eight per year. With an impressive stat sheet that reads like a dream: nine gold records; recorded over 700 songs; the first all female group to have a record go platinum; sold over 90 million records; one of the first vocal groups inducted into the Vocal Hall of Fame; over 100 songs on the Top 30 Billboard charts; 46 songs reached the Top-10 on the Billboard charts. The Andrews Sisters remained the best selling vocal group of all time until they were surpassed by the Beatles in the mid 1970s. And if that weren’t enough!!! The Andrews Sisters appeared in 17 Hollywood movies, had their own network radio program and were headliners in just about every prominent night club in the U.S. and Europe.
A review from Disc Magazine, dated August, 1943, stated:… “The Andrews Sisters have managed to pick up a potent style of delivery that wows listeners- sends every tune they warble sliding right into the groove. What makes these three jukebox royalty is fundamentally their own. They have a zest, a kind of earthy gusto that gets under the skin of John Doe or GI Joe - makes him relax and feel good. The girls like to sing, like the people their singing to, and that genuineness gets across…”
With songs such as “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” “Rum and Coca Cola,” and “The Beer Barrel Polka” the girls helped brighten the somber mood during World War II. In June, 1945, they participated in an 8-week USO tour and entertained more than 180,000 soldiers in North Africa and Europe. It was this devotion and patriotism that earned them the title of “America’s Wartime Sweethearts…”
“Billboard Magazine” offered the following quote in 1946: “…No matter how pop tastes have switched from boogie to ballads, sagebrush to sambas, waltzes to calypsos to be-bop, the Andrews Sisters have continued to be faves. In discs they rank second only to Bing Crosby on the Decca lists…”
In 1939 the sisters began an association with Bing Crosby that became a career within a career. The Andrews Sisters recorded 46 songs with Bing, several of which went gold.
From the February 26, 1959 New York newspaper review by Robert W. Dana, “Tips on Tables:” “…These are different times we live in, and the pendulum of show business has swung away from the kind of entertainment the Andrews Sisters offer, but when you figure they recorded 700 songs in their time, achieving a peak of 17 gold records, it isn’t surprising that this kind of magic is by no means ended…”
The Andrews Sisters biggest sellers:
“Bei Mir Bist Du Schon” 1937
“I’ll Be With You in Apple Blossom Time” 1941
“Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” 1941
“Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree” 1942
“Rum and Coca Cola” 1944
“Underneath the Arches” 1948
“Here Comes Santa Claus” 1950
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