A while back I wrote an article about Danny Kaye, one of my favorite comedians, and the funny tongue-twisting “nonsense songs” he was renowned for (“Singin’ with Danny Kaye“). Throughout his career, Danny repeatedly teamed with other famous singers and musicians. One of my favorite Danny Kaye songs is Civilization which he sang with the legendary close harmony trio the Andrews Sisters.
I actually remember singing Civilization way back when I was in elementary school. Listening to the song recently, I was reminded of how much I used to love the Andrews Sisters. Their splendid catchy song Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy is one of my all time favorite songs. Here is a video clip from the 1941 movie Buck Privates starring one of my favorite comedy duos Abbott and Costello. The Andrews Sisters introduced and sang Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy in this great World War II comedy (which is, unfortunately, NOT in the Public Domain). Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy was nominated for an Academy Award for best song in 1941.
The Andrews Sisters were the most popular female singing group in the first half of the 20th century.
- They have sold well over 75 million records (75 million was the last official count by MCA Records in the mid 1970s).
- The girls have been awarded 19 gold records.
- The trio had 113 charted Billboard hits, 46 of which reached Top 10 (more than the Beatles or Elvis Presley).
- The Andrews Sisters recorded 47 songs with renowned crooner Bing Crosby, 23 of which charted on Billboard, including 3 million selling platters.
- The sisters appeared in 17 Hollywood films, more than any other singing group in film history.
- They had record breaking theater and cabaret runs throughout America and Europe.
- The Andrews Sisters had their own radio show (1944 – 1946) and also made countless appearances on other radio shows from 1935 – 1960.
- The girls also had guest spots on every major TV variety show from the 1950s – 1960s.
|Laverne Maxene Patty|
First sister Laverne Andrews was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota on July 6, 1911. Second sister Maxene was born on January 3, 1916. Third sister Patty was born on February 16, 1918. Both of their parents were immigrants; their father from Greece, their mother from Norway.
The sisters formed a singing group when youngest sister Patty was only 7 years old. They entered various talent contests. But when their father’s Minneapolis restaurant went under, in 1932 when Patty was 14, the girls dropped out of school and took their act on the road to support their family.
Their first major hit came in 1937 with Bei Mir Bist Du Schön (translation: “To Me, You Are Beautiful”), originally a Yiddish tune that was rewritten with English lyrics and a swing beat. The song earned the girls a gold record, the first gold record ever for a female singing group.
During World War II, the Andrews Sisters were nicknamed “The Sweethearts of the Armed Forces” for their tireless efforts to raise morale among US troops. They visited Army, Navy, Marine, and Coast Guard bases. They traveled into war zones. They went to hospitals and munitions factories. The girls also encouraged the purchase of war bonds to support the war effort. The Andrews Sisters, along with actress Bette Davis and actor John Garfield, founded the famous Hollywood Canteen in Los Angeles, California. The Hollywood Canteen, and New York City’s Stage Door Canteen, were places where servicemen on leave could go and receive fee food and drink and entertainment. The sisters, as well as a variety of famous actors, actresses, and other performers, provided the free entertainment and also acted as servers for the servicemen.
In later years, while the trio remained very popular, their personal lives were filled with turmoil:
- Their mother died in 1948, their father in 1949.
- Their mentor at Decca Records, Jack Kapp, also died in 1949.
- The girls fought and sued each other over their parents estate.
- Patty left her husband when he had an affair with actress Doris Day in 1949 (although I think it was actually a blessing in disguise because the man went on to marry then financially ruin Doris Day).
- Patty decided to go solo in 1951 but never told her sisters. They learned about it in the gossip papers.
- Laverne and Maxene formed a duo until Maxene tried to commit suicide by drug overdose in 1954.
- The girls reunited and worked successfully until Laverne was diagnosed with cancer and died in 1967 at age 55.
- Patty went solo again while Maxene became Dean of Women at Tahoe Paradise College at South Lake Tahoe, California.
- Maxene and Patty reunited in 1974 to star in a World War II set Broadway musical titled Over There! But the reunion was cut short when Patty’s second husband fought with the show’s producers and with Maxine (although Patty always claimed Maxene was jealous).
- The two surviving sisters did not see each other again until 1982 when Maxene had a heart attack and Patty visited her once in the hospital.
- Maxene and Patty had one more brief reunion in 1987 when they received a Star on Hollywood’s Walk of Fame.
- Maxene died of a heart attack in 1995 at age 79. Maxene was also estranged from her two adopted children and left them nothing but the money from a few insurance policies. All the rest of her estate went to her longtime manager who Maxene adopted just before she died.
- Patty was distraught at her sister’s death. Her husband went to comfort her but fell down a flight of stairs and was badly injured.
- Patty and her husband became more and more reclusive. Her husband died in 2010 and Patty died in 2013 at age 94.
But despite all the fuss and fracas of their later personal lives, the Andrews Sisters have left behind an absolutely wonderful musical legacy. Fortunately for fans, the Internet Archive has a large variety of individual songs and compilations available FREE in the Public Domain. I am going to list a few of my favorites, and their links, for fans of the Andrews Sisters to download and listen to.
First up, is the largest compilation I found. This album has 198 songs – just about everything Andrews Sisters a fan could ever want. There are songs sung by just the sisters themselves and other songs where they team up with other famous performers just as Al Jolson, Bing Crosby, Burl Ives, Danny Kaye, Dean Martin, Nat King Cole and many others. Some of my favorite songs are on this album: Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, Civilization, Bei Meir Bist Du Schoone, Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree, Lullaby of Broadway, Oh Johnny Oh, Shortin’ Bread, Winter Wonderland, Pistol Packin’ Mama, The 3 Caballeros, and By the Light of the Silvery Moon.
The next album, the second biggest, has 9 songs to listen to and, at the bottom of the page, 68 downloadable audio files. Some of my favorite songs here include: Give My Regards to Broadway, Jingle Bells, Merry Christmas Polka, Sabre Dance, and Is You Is or Is You Ain’t My Baby.
My third favorite album has 24 songs including: Bounce Me Brother with a Solid Four, Oooo Boom, and The Cock Eyed Mayor of Kaunakakai.
Next up we have 4 fantastic albums that team the Andrews Sisters with legendary actor and best selling recording star Bing Crosby. I absolutely love this teaming and there are some wonderful songs on these albums. The first Bing Crosby / Andrews Sisters album has 10 songs including my favorites: The Three Caballeros, There’s No Business Like Show Business, and Anything You Can Do. The second Bing / Andrews Sisters album also has 10 songs including: Get Your Kicks on Route 66, Don’t Fence Me In, and I’ll Si-Si Ya in Bahia. The third album has 9 songs including Cool Water and, one of my childhood favorites, Accentuate the Positive. And finally, the fourth album also has 9 songs including Pistol Packin’ Mama and the very silly The Pussy Cat Song. Fans should note that the first song in this album is not really more than 24 minutes long, that’s a misprint, it’s really only 2:59 long.
Now we come to the individual songs. There are literally dozens and dozens of solo Andrews Sisters songs available FREE in the Public Domain at the Internet Archive. I will list a few of the best individual songs and their links. The rest are easily found just by searching the Internet Archive for “Andrews Sisters.’
First up, we have 3 individual songs that team the Andrews Sisters with my favorite funny man, Danny Kaye. We have my childhood best-loved song Civilization. Then we have the fun holiday song All I Want For Christmas. And finally, the lively Put ‘Em In a Box, Tie ‘Em With a Ribbon.
Next we have 4 individual songs that pair the Andrews Sisters with Academy Award winning actor and hugely popular singer Bing Crosby. We have the jazz hit Is You Is Or Is You Ain’t My Baby. We also have a fun song about bridging the language barrier in You Don’t Have to Know the Language and a lively World War II song There’ll be a Hot Time in the Town of Berlin. Our final Andrews Sisters / Bing Crosby pairing is the yearning Teresa
And finally, here are a variety of individual Andrews Sisters songs. Fans, please do not forget that there are many more than these few waiting to be discovered at the Internet Archive. We have the lively and catchy swing song Bounce Me Brother With a Solid Four and the sweetly sentimental (I’ll Be With You) In Apple Blossom Time both from the movie Buck Privates. Avocado is a fun swing song about a man who sales avocados. The Andrews Sisters sing Feudin’ Fightin’ and Fussin’ in full on silly mode. Then the Sisters lovingly lament how unlucky they are in love with I’ve Got to Get Out of the Habit. The girls give a fun Italian flavor to an organ grinder’s song in Jolly Fella Tarantella. And lastly, we have More Beer, a fun drinking song from 1949, and Lullaby of Broadway, the classic song about the nightlife of Broadway.
So overall, the Andrews Sisters were a legendary and wonderfully talented trio of close harmony singers. While they specialized in swing and boogie woogie songs, their repertoire did not end there. The girls also had major hits with jazz songs, ballads, folk songs, country and western, seasonal, and religious songs. The Andrews Sisters also “incorporated numerous ethnic musical styles into their popular songs.” They could and did sing just about everything. And they also dedicated a huge part of their lives to supporting the American war effort during World War II and raising the morale of the troops in the field and the civilians on the home front.
The Andrews Sisters sang hundreds of songs. The songs I’ve listed here are just a small part of their repertoire. There are many more songs waiting to be discovered by music fans. Of course, the best thing is that these songs, and the many others, are available FREE in the Public Domain at the Internet Archive.
Andrews Sisters Albums
Album with 198 songs: The Andrews Sisters-39-240.
Album with 9 songs and 68 downloadable audio files: Andrews Sisters-01-10.
Album with 24 songs: THE ANDREWS SISTERS BOUNCE ME BROTHER WITH A SOLID FOUR (September 12, 2013).
Andrews Sisters with Bing Crosby
First album with 10 songs: bing-Crosby-Andrews Sisters-31-38.
Second album with 10 songs: Bing-Crosby-Andrews Sisters-11-20.
Third album with 9 songs: Bing-Crosby–Andrews-Sisters-01-10.
The fourth album: bing-Crosby-Andrews Sisters-21-30.
Other Individual Andrews Sisters songs
Bounce Me Brother With a Solid Four.
(I’ll Be With You) In Apple Blossom Time.
Feudin’ Fightin’ and Fussin’.
I’ve Got to Get Out of the Habit.
Jolly Fella Tarantella.
Lullaby of Broadway.