Patty Andrews, the last surviving member of the influential Andrews Sisters vocal trio, died yesterday at home in Los Angeles, The Associated Press reports. She was 94.
Andrews and her siblings LaVerne and Maxene sold more than 80 million records during a career that stretched from the 1920s to the late 1960s. They’re perhaps best known for entertaining Allied troops and selling war bonds and boosting morale on the homefront during World War II – along with their 1941 hit “The Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy,” which the Recording Industry of America ranked at Number Six on a list of 25 “Songs of the Century.”
“When I was a kid, I only had two records and one of them was the Andrews Sisters. They were remarkable. Their sound, so pure,” said Midler, whose first Number One hit came on a cover of “The Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.” The sisters influence also extended to Barry Manilow, the Manhattan Transfer, the Pointer Sisters and En Vogue, who also recorded a version of “The Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.”
Patty Andrews was the youngest of the sisters and the lead singer of the group, which formed when she was seven. The trio found local success in their native Minnesota before touring with dance bands and vaudeville acts, eventually settling in California when they began attracting national attention with recordings and by appearing on radio broadcasts. Their first notable hit came in 1937 on an English-language version of the Yiddish tune “Bei Mir Bist Du Schön,” followed by a string of popular recordings over the next several years that included “Beat Me Daddy, Eight to the Bar” and “Rum and Coca-Cola.”
The sisters also made a dozen low-budget musical comedy movies with Universal Pictures between 1940-44, and they appeared with Bing Crosby and Bob Hope in the 1947 movie The Road to Rio.
The Andrews Sisters split in 1951 when Patty joined a different group and sued LaVerne over their parents’ estate, but the trio reunited in 1956 and continued recording and touring until LaVerne, the eldest sister, died of cancer in 1967. Maxene died in 1995.
Patty Andrews’ second husband, Walter Weschler, pianist for the sisters, died in 2010. She’s survived by a foster daughter, a niece and several cousins.