Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Classic Musical Artist of the Week

From 1937 to 1952 they were one of the most popular singing groups in the United States and Europe. From Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen to Underneath the Arches they had more number one hits than Elvis and The Beatles put together. They have garnered much fame and adoration over the years. They are: The Andrews Sisters.

They started as a Boswell Sister's tribute band. The lead singer (and the youngest sister), Patti, was only seven when the group was formed. They performed in local talent competitions and did vaudeville acts. In 1937, when they were in their twenties, they had their first major hit: Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen. Actually, an interesting story is tied to that song:

They were sleeping one night when their dad woke them and their mother up. He was talking but, with his thick Greek accent, he wasn't completely understandable. He made them all get some decent street clothes on and took them out of their apartment. They went to the corner of a street where a large crowd of people were amassed and shouting "Play it again! Play it again!". Then, music was heard filling the street. It took the girls a minuet but they recognized it as their own recording of Bir Mir Bist Du Schoen. The girls and their mother broke down in tears at this.

And from here, they only became more popular. They were bit hits during WWII, when they extensively entertained the troops and recorded hit songs like Rum and Coca-Cola, Shoo Shoo Baby, Don't Sit Under the Apple Tree, Ac-cent-u-ate the Positive, and Pistol Packin' Mamma. During this time, they recorded many songs with Bing Crosby. Actually they collaborated more than any other two acts in musical history. Perhaps the most well known song they recorded was Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, which was such a hit with people during war time they were actually taken to Hollywood to perform the song in the Abbott and Costello film "Buck Privates".

Their last really successful recording was I Wanna Be Loved in 1950. In 1952, they seperated when Patti decided she wanted to go solo. This probably wouldn't have been a problem but, Maxene and LaVerne found out from a tabloud rather than from Patti herself. The strain this took wasn't helped by Patti's lawsuite against LaVerne for a larger share of their deseased parents estate. Patti had mild success as a solo artist.

They eventually did get back together but, only after LaVerne had died. In 1974, the two surviving sisteres starred in a Broadway show called "Over There!", which was a nastolgic look at WWII and would turn out to be their last hurrah. It was actually a very successful show and launched the careers of such performers as John Travolta and Ann Reinking but, a lawsuite against the producers initiated by Patty's husband squashed a huge national tour that was planned for the group.

They influenced many singers including Mel Torme, The MaGuire Sisters, The Four Freshman, Manhattan Transfer, Bette Midler, and even Elvis Presley. They're legacy as one of the most successful musical groups is so huge, the're have even been muppets that appeared on "Seasame Street" as the "Androoze Sisters". Their songs have been featured in movies and tv shows (like "Mamma's Family" "The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wordrobe" and "Gilmore Girls") and even on a few video games.

If you ask me, The Andrews Sisters are the 1940s in America. And, what would music be like had they not been around? They were really the first jazz artists. Well, it was more big band but, big band is a building block for jazz. I don't know what it would be like but, I'd just like to say: Bei mir bist du schoen, Patty. Bei mir bist du schoen, Maxene. Bei mir bist du schoen, LaVerne. And thanks. Thanks for all your wonderful music.

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