Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy
|"Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy"|
|Written by||Don Raye, Hughie Prince|
|Original artist||The Andrews Sisters|
|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|
"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. The song is ranked #6 on Songs of the Century.
Origins of the song
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
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
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, as well as Billboard Magazine, and The Cleveland Plain Dealer during WWII credit Clarence Zylman of Muskegon, Michigan, as the original Boogie Woogie Bugler. The lyrics in the song seem to 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
- In 1973, Bette Midler recorded the song. It peaked at number eight on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart, and introduced it to a new generation of pop music fans. The track was also a number-one single on the Billboard easy listening chart.
- In 1987, The Chipettes covered the song for the Alvin and the Chipmunks episode "Just One of the Girls."
- In 1990, pop/R&B group En Vogue did a shortened version of the song for their album Born to Sing, rewording it to sound more urban, i.e. "boogie woogie hip hop boy".
- In 2003, Brighton downtempo act Backini remixed a version called Company B Boy for their album Threads.
- In 2006, the Puppini Sisters recorded the song for their album Betcha Bottom Dollar.
- In 2007, R&B/Gospel group Jerry Lawson and Talk of the Town recorded the song on their album Jerry Lawson Talk of the Town.
- On their 2008 Live in Concert DVD, the von Trapp Children sang this song.
- In 2010, on VH1 Divas Salute The Troops the song was performed by Katy Perry, Keri Hilson and Jennifer Nettles.
- The song inspired the 1941 cartoon Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B produced by Walter Lantz Productions.
- The song is referenced in the animated short Disney musical film, A Symposium on Popular Songs in the song, "The Boogie Woogie Bakery Man" written by Robert & Richard Sherman.
- The song was parodied on an early 1980s episode of Chicago-based horror movie show Son of Svengoolie as "The Boogie-Woogie Bogeyman of Berwyn".
- In the sitcom Dinosaurs, episode Nuts to War Part 2, Earl, Roy, and Charlene dress up as USO girls and sing the song.
- In the 2nd season episode "Flaming Forties" of Mama's Family, Thelma "Mama" Harper (Vicki Lawrence), Fran Crowley (Rue McClanahan), and Naomi Harper (Dorothy Lyman) impersonate The Andrews Sisters and sing the song to entertain the classmates of Thelma's grandkids Buzz & Sonia after the band Medication that was hired failed to show up.
- In the 2nd Season episode "Lucy & The Andrews Sisters" of Here's Lucy, Patty Andrews guest stars and sings a medley of Andrews Sisters hits which includes this song with Lucille Ball playing LaVerne Andrews, Lucie Arnaz playing Maxene Andrews and Desi Arnaz. Jr playing Bing Crosby
- Christina Aguilera and Linda Perry wrote "Candyman" (released as a single in 2007) from Aguilera's hit album Back to Basics, as a tribute to the Andrews Sisters and their "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy".
- The Miami-based girl group Company B took their name from the song. They recorded their own version of the song in 1989.
- In the Sesame Street song "Dance Myself to Sleep", Ernie has Rubber Duckie play the bugle and calls him "The Boogie Woogie Bugle Duck of Sesame Street."
- On an episode of A Different World, Whitley, Kim, and Jaleesa dress up in military attire and sing "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" to pay homage to their friend Zelmer (played by Blair Underwood), who is about to depart for war in the Persian Gulf.
- Albert Ammons recorded a boogie-woogie piano elaboration of the Andrews Sisters original, released in February 1944, when the musicians' strike ended.
- The song is featured in the cafe scenes in the movie Molly: An American Girl on the Home Front.
- The Simpsons episode "Catch 'Em If You Can" features an elderly man listening to the song on a 1940s radio that carries on his shoulder.
- "Boogie Woogie Reveille". Billboard (Billboard) (Vol 55 No. 14). 1943-04-03. Retrieved 2009-11-04.
- Whitburn, Joel (2002). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–2001. Record Research. p. 170.
- Moss, Corey (2007-02-21). "Xtina X Three: Aguilera Has Multiple-Personality Disorder In Clip – Music, Celebrity, Artist News". MTV. Retrieved 2012-01-04.
- The Puppini Sisters' official website (featuring a sample of their version)
- Jerry Lawson's official website
- MCA Music v. Earl Wilson Columbia Law School Arthur W. Diamond Law Library Music Plagiarism Project.
- Full lyrics of this song at MetroLyrics