Andrews Sisters singer Patty Andrews dead at 94

Patty Andrews died at her suburban Los Angeles home. Picture: AP
Patty Andrews died at her suburban Los Angeles home. Picture: AP
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Patty Andrews, the last survivor of singing trio the Andrews Sisters, has died in Los Angeles at the age of 94.

Along with her two older sisters, Andrews had swing hits including Don’t Sit Under the Apple Tree and Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B.

The singer died of natural causes at her home in suburban Northridge said family spokesman Alan Eichler.

The group’s hits, including the poignant I Can Dream, Can’t I?, captured the home-front spirit of the Second World War.

Patty was the Andrews in the middle, the lead singer and chief clown, whose raucous jitterbugging delighted American servicemen abroad and audiences at home.

She could also deliver sentimental ballads like I’ll Be With You In Apple Blossom Time with a sincerity that was renowned for causing hardened GIs, far from home, to weep.

From the late 1930s through the 1940s, the Andrews Sisters produced one hit record after another, beginning with Bei Mir Bist Du Schoen in 1937 and continuing with Beat Me Daddy, Eight to the Bar, Rum and Coca-Cola, and more. They recorded more than 400 songs and sold more than 80 million records, several of them attaining gold status by selling over a million copies.

Other sisters, notably the Boswells, had become famous as singing acts, but mostly they huddled before a microphone in close harmony. The Andrews Sisters – LaVerne, Maxene and Patty – added a new dimension. During breaks in their singing, they cavorted about the stage.

Their voices combined with perfect synergy. Patty said in 1971: “There were just three girls in the family. LaVerne had a very low voice. Maxene’s was kind of high, and I was between. It was like God had given us voices to fit our parts.”

The Andrews’ rise coincided with the advent of swing music, and their style fitted perfectly into the new craze. They aimed at reproducing the sound of three harmonising trumpets.

“I was listening to Benny Goodman and to all the bands,” Patty once remarked. I was into the feel, so that would go into my own musical ability. I was into swing. I loved the brass section.”

Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy was covered in 1973 by American singer Bette Midler. Speaking about Patty Andrews’ death, 
Midler said: “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.

“Everything they did for our nation was more than we could have asked for.

“This is the last of the trio, and I hope the trumpets ushering (Patty) into heaven with her sisters are playing Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy.”

The sisters, who were born in Minnesota, started their careers by performing in local talent shows and later moved to California.

LaVerne Andrews died of cancer in 1967 and Maxene Andrews died in 1995 after suffering a heart attack.