Chordettes, The

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Chordettes, The

Chordettes, The, beauty-shop quartet turned hit vocal group, formed 1946, She boygan, Wise. membership:Janet Ertel, Carol Buschman, Dorothy Schwartz, Jinny Lockard.

Between 1954 and 1961, the Chordettes put nine tunes into the Top 40, but none so successfully as their first hit, 1954’s “Mr. Sandman” They came together in 1946 in Sheboygan, Wise, with Dorothy Schwartz singing lead, Janet Ertel singing bass, Carol Buschman singing baritone, and Jinny Lockard singing tenor. Three years later, they won Arthur Godfrey’s Talent Scouts, earning them a contract to continue as regulars on the show. They stayed with the show for five years.

When Godrey’s music director Archie Bleyer formed Cadence Records, the group left Godfrey and Columbia Records (where they had only nominal success) and went along with Bleyer. They topped the charts for seven weeks with “Mr. Sandman” around the same time Ertel married Bleyer. They followed this with “Eddie” (#14, 1956), “Born to Be with You” (#5, 1956), “Lay Down Your Arms” (#16, 1956), and “Just Between You and Me” (#8, 1957). In 1958 they had their second most popular hit, “Lollipop,” which spent two weeks at #2. They had three more Top 40 records between 1958 and 1961, but decided to call it a day in 1963, seeing the advent of the Beatles as the end of the vocal groups.

In the early 1990s, with families raised and several of the working Chordettes retired, they started playing again, albeit without Ertel, who died of cancer in 1988. At a showcase that year in N.Y.C., Julius Dixon, the author of “Lollipop” was in the house. He said that they sounded just like they did in 1958.


Best of Chordettes (1989): Golden Classics (1997); Greatest Hits (1996).

—Hank Bordowitz