Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy

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"Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy"
Song by The Andrews Sisters
Published 1941
Writer Don Raye, Hughie Prince
Recorded by Bette Midler, En Vogue, Backini, Puppini Sisters, Jerry Lawson and Talk of the Town
Performed by The Andrews Sisters, von Trapp Children; Katy Perry, Keri Hilson and Jennifer Nettles
The Andrews Sisters

"Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" was a major hit for The Andrews Sisters and an iconic World War II tune. This song can be considered an early jump blues recording.[citation needed] The song is ranked #6 on Songs of the Century.

Origins of the song[edit]

The song was written by Don Raye and Hughie Prince, and was recorded at Decca's Hollywood studios on January 2, 1941, nearly a year before the United States entered World War II but after the start of a peacetime draft to expand the armed forces in anticipation of American involvement. The flipside was "Bounce Me, Brother, With a Solid Four". The Andrews Sisters introduced both songs in the Abbott and Costello film, Buck Privates (released January 1941), which was in production when they made the record. "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Song.

The song is closely based on an earlier Raye-Prince hit, "Beat Me Daddy, Eight to the Bar," which is about a virtuoso boogie-woogie piano player.

Storyline of the song[edit]

According to the lyrics of the song, a renowned Chicago, Illinois street musician is drafted into the U.S. Army during the peacetime draft imposed by the Roosevelt administration. In addition to being famous, the bugler was the "top man at his craft," but the army had little use for his talents and he was reduced to blowing the wake up call (Reveille) in the morning. This caused the musician to become dejected: "It really brought him down, because he couldn't jam." The Cap (An army captain — the company commander) took note of the blues man's blues and went out and conscripted more musicians to assemble a band to keep the bugler company. Thereafter, the bugler found his stride, infusing the military marches with his inimitable street flair: "He blows it eight to the bar—in boogie rhythm." Even his morning calls attain some additional flavor: "And now the company jumps when he plays reveille." But, the bugler is not only empowered, he is possibly spoiled, because thereafter, "He can't blow a note if the bass and guitar/Isn't with him."

People who claim to have inspired the song[edit]

In an interview broadcast July 3, 2006 on CNN, World War II veteran Bill Arter said he often played in jam sessions with the black unit in Company C, who gave him the nickname Bugle Boy from Company B. Arter was a medic who landed during D-day. There is no evidence that he was the inspiration for the song; however, since it was written before the U.S. entered the war he may have been dubbed the Bugle Boy from Company B in reference to the song, not the other way around.

Articles published in Stars & Stripes on 19 March 1943, as well as Billboard Magazine, and The Christian Science Monitor during WWII credit Clarence Zylman of Muskegon, Michigan, as the original Boogie Woogie Bugler.[1] The lyrics in the song agree with several aspects of Zylman's life. Drafted at age 38, Clarence had been performing for 20 years, beginning with radio station WBBM in Chicago and moving on to several big bands, starting with Paul Specht and Connie Connaughton, and most recently with the Tommy Tucker Orchestra. He brought his playing style to England where he was a bugler for an engineer company, using his trumpet for taps and reveille, eventually being transferred to an army band. Articles in Billboard and The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, Ohio) support this, including the fact that Clarence was sent to teach other buglers his techniques.

Another claimant to the title (though he seldom mentioned it) would be Harry L. Gish, Jr. (1922–2005). At age 17, after a meteoric rise in the mid 1930s based out of the Ritz Hotel in Paducah, Kentucky, he ventured to New York City where he appeared (studio only) with the Will Bradley "All Star Orchestra" with highly regarded solos on the Raye-Prince songs "Celery Stalks at Midnight", "Scrub Me Mama With a Boogie Beat", and "The Boogilly Woogilly Piggie". He also performed with the Olsen & Johnson (of Hellzapoppin' fame) band, Ray Anthony and was popular in the Plattsburgh, New York (Lake Placid) area before returning to Decca Records in Chicago. He also had a "summer replacement" radio show there for CBS from WBBM radio.

In the 1980s and 1990s he honored many requests to play at services for veterans' funerals, and in 1995, in the character of The Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy (still able to fit in his WWII uniform: he enlisted in the Army Air Corps) he opened the combined service units (American Legion, VFW and others) celebration of the 50th anniversary of the end of WWII in Little Rock, Arkansas, where he opened with "Reveille" and closed the ceremony with "Taps".

Later versions of the song[edit]

Katy Perry performing the song alongside Keri Hilson and Jennifer Nettles.
Canadian actress Michelle Creber performing the song.


See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Boogie Woogie Reveille". Billboard (Billboard) (Vol 55 No. 14). 1943-04-03. Retrieved 2009-11-04. 
  2. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–2001. Record Research. p. 170. 
  3. ^
  4. ^ Moss, Corey (2007-02-21). "Xtina X Three: Aguilera Has Multiple-Personality Disorder In Clip – Music, Celebrity, Artist News". MTV. Retrieved 2012-01-04. 

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