Friday, February 01, 2013

Alvino Rey has nothing to do with the Andrews Sisters.

When I heard that news that Patty Andrews had died, a song by the Andrews Sisters immediately came to mind.

Not. Problem is, upon closer examination, the song I remember from youthful listenings to my dad's big band records wasn't performed by the Andrews Sisters at all. It was the King Sisters ... performing a capella.

There likely would have been the customary instrumental backing of the day, except it was the period of the American Federation of Musicians strike (1942-44), when union musicians were banned from recording.

The song itself was a hit in 1944, and it's hard to imagine a more prescient pop song. Thanks to wartime industrial growth, California was about to explode in every imaginable way, and the San Fernando Valley epitomized the suburb. It was less than two decades until the Beach Boys, and soon afterward, Charles Manson.

The story of the King Sisters is interesting, too. One of them married the bandleader Alvino Rey, who was an unheralded pioneer of the electric guitar; two of their grandchildren are Win and Will Butler of the indie group Arcade Fire.

Alvino Rey’s Musical Legacy

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