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The Chordettes

Updated on February 7, 2016

1950's Music Group - The Chordettes

I always loved that old song "Mr. Sandman", but I never knew who sang it. The answer is The Chordettes. They were a popular female singing quartet, usually singing a cappella, and specializing in traditional popular music. The Chordettes were one of the longest lived vocal groups with beginnings in the mainstream pop and vocal harmonies of the 1940's and early 1950's. Her is some additional info on the foursome.

Public domain photo courtesy Wikipedia

Creative Commons photo courtesy Lastfm

Group Members

  • Carol Buschman*

    Janet Ertel*

    Jinny Osborn*

    Dorothy Schwartz*

    Lynn Evans

    Margie Needham

    Nancy Overton

    * Denotes original member

Formation

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 (who was having a baby), 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. 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.

Quick Music Question

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Career

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.

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

"Mr. Sandman" Audio Recording - Seven weeks at #1 in 1954

Mr. Sandman, bring me a dream....

Classic Video: Lollipop - The Chordettes #2 hit (1958)

Photos courtesy Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons, and public domain.

Are you a Chordettes Fan?

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    • Johanna Eisler profile image

      Johanna Eisler 

      6 years ago

      I can't believe I never knew that Lollipop was sung by the same group who sang "Mr. Sandman"!

      By the way, I was scanning down your list of lenses, and all it did was take one glance at the words "Mr. Sandman" to put the song whirling around in my head over and over and over. Some things are just hard-wired into the brain! LOL!

    • nyclittleitaly profile image

      nyclittleitaly 

      6 years ago

      Great lens. The Chordettes had a great sound.

    • hughgrissettsr lm profile image

      hughgrissettsr lm 

      6 years ago

      super lens! love the chordettes,especially born to be with you, lollipop, and mr. sandman. they were a big influence on the girl groups to follow.

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