Prelude: for this round of ABC Wednesday, I decided to do musical groups that featured family members. I actually found 24 groups, for all the letters except Q and U, though I did have to stretch some definitions. No Doobie Brothers, though.
Undoubtedly, I was inspired by writing about the Green Family Singers, and further when I watched The Sound of Music.
It may have been Bette Midler who introduced me to the music of the Andrews Sisters with her cover of Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B in the early 1970s – LISTEN to a version by the Andrews. But in fact, I already owned some Andrews Sisters through Bing Crosby’s classic Christmas album, which featured Jingle Bells and Mele Kalikimaka [LISTEN], though I didn’t know the singers at the time, and I don’t recall if they were credited.
Fortunately, I have a friend named Fred Hembeck who is a fairly rabid Andrews Sisters fan, so now I actually have two albums of the classic tunes by Patty (the youngest, blonde), Maxene (middle sister, a brunette), and LaVerne (the eldest, the redhead). They were quite popular from the late 1930s on. “In the 1940s the sisters found themselves in high demand, and became the most profitable stage attraction in the entire nation, earning $20,000 a week. Aside from singing, the sisters were established radio personalities and made appearances in 17 Hollywood movies. During the mid 1940s the sisters released eight new singles, six of which became bestsellers. Some of the hits include Rum and Coca Cola [LISTEN] and ‘I’ll Be with You in Apple Blossom Time.'”
Patty left the group in 1954, which also caused a personal schism; her sisters learned about it by reading it in the newspapers. They got back together, “professionally and personally,” in 1956 with a newer sound that “did not gain popularity with the public, who preferred hearing old hits.”
Laverne died in 1968 from cancer at the age of 55. Patty and Maxene continued to perform, together, but usually apart, into the 1990s. “In 1995, while on vacation in Cape Cod, Maxene had a heart attack and died. She was 79.” Patty died in January 2013, a few weeks shy of her 95th birthday.
I find that I really enjoy listening to them, more now than in my callow youth.
Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree, the song for which I probably know them best
I Can Dream, Can’t I, which went #1 in late 1949 or early 1950
Don’t Fence Me In, with Bing Crosby, which went to #1 in 1944
A segment of the TV show What’s My Life (1959).