The Chordettes!

Well I will win extra Brownie Points from my wife for this one.  Not a Rock and Roll Group, but a prominent group of the Fifties.  They had a lot of cover records, got a lot of TV exposure with Arthur Godfrey and my wife loves them.  I was not a fan, but they sold a lot of records and Mr. Sandman has been used in more movies that describe the Fifties (including Back to the Future) than most songs.


The Chordettes


The Chordettes

Video: Lollipop

  1. Mr. Sandman/ Cadence 1247/ October 1954/ #1 (7)
  2. Eddie my Love/ Cadence 1284/ March 1956/ #14
  3. Born to be with You/ Cadence 1291/ June 1956/ #5
  4. Just Between You and Me/ Cadence 1330/ September 1957/ #8
  5. Lollipop/ Cadence 1345/ March 1958/ #2
  6. No other Arms, No Other Lips/ Cadence 1361/ March 1959/ #27
  7. Never On A Sunday/ Cadence 1402/ July 1961/ #13
  8. Pink Shoe Laces/EP CADENCE CEP-115

The group organized in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, in 1946. The original members of the group were Janet Ertel (September 21, 1913 – November 4, 1988), Carol Buschmann (her sister-in-law), Dorothy Schwartz and Jinny Osborn (or Jinny Lockard) (April 25, 1928 – May 19, 2003). In 1952, Lynn Evans replaced Schwartz, and in 1953, Margie Needham replaced Osborn, although Osborn later returned to the group. Nancy Overton (February 6, 1926 – April 5, 2009) also was a member of the group at a later time, but never sang on any of the Chordettes’ recordings. Originally they sang folk music in the style of The Weavers, but eventually changed to a harmonizing style of the type known as barbershop harmony or close harmony. Part of this change seems to be influenced by Osborn’s father.

Jinny Osborn was born in Seattle, Washington. She was born Virginia Cole, the daughter of O. H. “King” Cole, who was president of the Barbershop Harmony Society (then known as ‘The Society for the Preservation and Encouragement of Barbershop Quartet Singing in America Inc.’), and Katherine Flack.

After performing locally in Sheboygan, they won on Arthur Godfrey‘s radio program Talent Scouts in 1949. They held feature status on Godfrey’s daily program, and then recorded for Columbia Records. In 1953, Godfrey’s music director and orchestra leader, Archie Bleyer, founded Cadence Records. He signed a number of Godfrey regulars and former regulars, including the Chordettes, who had a number of hit records for Cadence. Ertel married Bleyer in 1954. Her daughter Jackie married another Cadence recording star, Phil Everly of The Everly Brothers. She died of cancer in 1988.

The Chordettes biggest hit was “Mr. Sandman” in 1954, and Bleyer appeared on that recording, along with the group. Originally a b-side for Vaughn Monroe, the bouncy, somewhat novelty-oriented tune (complete with a deep voiced “Yes?” from Bleyer representing “Mr. Sandman” at one point) made #1 for seven weeks. The record sold over one million copies and reached #11 in the UK Singles Chart.

They also hit #2 in 1958 with the million-seller “Lollipop“, and also charted with a vocal version of the themes from television’s Zorro (U.S. #17) (1959) and the film Never on Sunday (U.S. #13) (1961). Other hits for the girls included “Eddie My Love” (U.S. #14), “Born to Be with You” (U.S. #5), “Lay Down Your Arms” in 1956, and “Just Between You and Me” (U.S. #8) in 1957.

In the late 1950s and early 1960s, the Chordettes continued to alternate between pop songs and ones with an eye on the rock market, including covers of The Coasters‘ “Charlie Brown,” Paul Anka‘s “Lonely Boy,” and Dodie Stevens‘ “Pink Shoe Laces.” They even did some recordings with King Curtis on saxophone.

The Chordettes appeared on American Bandstand on August 5, 1957, the first episode of that show to be broadcast nationally on the ABC Television network. In 1961, Osborn left the group, and they were unable to find a replacement with whom they were happy, leading to their break-up.

In the early 1990s, The Chordettes re-grouped with Lynn Evans, Nancy Overton and her sister Jean Swain, plus Doris Alberti, doing shows ranging from a doo-wop concert to touring with Eddy Arnold. A live cassette of a concert in Branson, Missouri was recorded.

The group was inducted into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame in 2001 .

Jinny Osborn (by that time Jinny Janis) died in 2003. In 2005, Evans appeared on a PBS television special, with other 1950s pop icons, singing “Lollipop”.

On April 5, 2009 Nancy Overton died after a long battle with esophageal cancer. Before her death, she was the longest living member.



2 responses to “The Chordettes!

  1. Another surprise… I never knew “Lollipop” was sung by a white group! Didn’t know it was the same group that did “Mr. Sandman.” Hey, notice in the Lollipop video the “back beat” gets completely messed up after the first singer comes in. If that’s on the original 45 I’m amazed I never noticed that before!

  2. Hi John
    In the Lollipop video, the stereo mix is also weird until they are well into the first verse, and clapping at end is also off the beat. I am guessing that these flaws may have been introduced if the original video went through a few (codec) format conversions before getting uploaded to YouTube.

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