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The Andrews Sisters: Before Destiny's Child

Getty Images / Redferns / GAB Archive

The Andrews Sisters: Before Destiny's Child

The history of pop music is filled with high-powered female vocal groups such as the Supremes, Destiny's Child and the Spice Girls. Their records flew off the shelves and their tunes remain with us, thanks in part to the pioneering work of three young women known as the Andrews Sisters.

One year after the death of Patty Andrews, the youngest sister, we remember the groundbreaking careers of these remarkable young women. Starting with their first hit record, a cover of the Yiddish song "Bei Mir Bist Du Schon," they released a series of hit albums that have sold more than 75 million copies to date. The vocal dynamic among sisters LaVerne, Maxene and Patty became the soundtrack of the early boogie woogie era on the strength of their classic 1941 hit, "The Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy." Watch them perform it in the Abbott and Costello movie Buck Privates:

They toured extensively during World War II, entertaining Allied troops in Africa and Italy, and established a restaurant and club in Hollywood for returning soldiers. They made a habit of buying dinner for soldiers whenever they were out, and they lent their voices to special records made exclusively for the armed forces.

In 1951 the Andrews Sisters broke up when Patty left to pursue a solo career, but they reunited just a few years later and toured extensively throughout the 1960s. LaVerne died of cancer in 1967, and while Patty and Maxene tried to carry on as a duo, they disbanded again in 1968. The pair reunited briefly on Broadway in the show Over Here! in the early 1970s, thanks to revived interest in them following Bette Midler's cover of "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy," but the reunion proved short-lived. The sisters made one more public appearance, in 1987, when they were honored with a star on Hollywood's Walk of Fame

According to Patty Andrews' obituary by Bob Thomas of The Associated Press, the Andrews Sisters added a new dimension to female singing groups: cavorting about the stage in rhythm to the music during breaks in their singing. The sisters' rise "coincided with the advent of swing music, and their style fit perfectly into the new craze," Thomas wrote. "They aimed at reproducing the sound of three harmonizing trumpets."

The Andrews Sisters always will be remembered for their beautiful music and for opening the door to generations of female vocal groups who have burned up the charts in the years since.

Written by Seth Joseph