Friday, March 1, 1991

50 years ago: The Andrews Sisters charted with “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy”

Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy

The Andrews Sisters with Vic Schoen’s Orchestra

Writer(s): Don Raye, Hughie Prince (see lyrics here)

Recorded: January 2, 1941

First Charted: March 1, 1941

Peak: 6 US, 15 GA (Click for codes to singles charts.)

Sales (in millions): -- US, -- UK, -- world (includes US + UK)

Airplay/Streaming (in millions): -- radio, -- video, -- streaming

Awards: (Click on award for more details).

About the Song:

Patty, Maxene and LaVerne Andrews were the pre-rock era’s most successful female vocal group. The sound of the Minneapolis trio “helped define the wartime era.” PM From a chart standpoint, the Andrews Sisters had more than a dozen songs which were more successful chart wise, including six #1 songs and “Beat Me Daddy, Eight to the Bar.” That #2 hit was also written by the team of Don Ray and Hughie Prince and inspired “Bugle Boy,” but it was the latter which became “an iconic World War II novelty song” WK and ranked #6 on the RIAA’s Songs of the Century list.

The Andrews Sisters performed “Bugle Boy” and three other songs in the 1941 movie Buck Privates to lift the spirts of American troops in a training camp. This was the first Universal Pictures film to star the comedy team of Abbott & Costello, who mistakenly enlist in the army when they think they are signing up for prizes at a local theater. Originally Lou Costello was to perform “Bugle Boy.” MT The movie was made before the United States entered World War II, but was inspired by the Selective Training and Service Act of 1940 which required all men between 21 and 36 to register for the draft.

“Bugle Boy” is about a Chicago trumpet player drafted into the army. Sadly, he is restricted ot blowing the wake-up call instead of his beloved boogie-woogie until the sympathetic captain drafters some other jazz musicians to play with him. The result has a positive effect on the entire company.

Several servicemen have laid claims to being the original bugle boy. DS In 1943, several articles reported that Clarence Zylman of Muskegon, Michigan, was the inspiration for the song. He’d performed with big bands in Chicago and then played Taps and Reveille while bugling for an engineer company in England before transferring to an army band. However, he didn’t enlist until after “Bugle Boy” was written and recorded. WK Harry L. Gish, Jr. was a more likely candidate as Raye and Prince knew him. He recorded with the songwriting team and worked with several New York-based bands. WK

The song had a surprise revival in 1973 when Bette Midler recorded it and took it to the top 10 in the United States, Australia, and Canada.

Resources and Related Links:

First posted 4/18/2021.

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