Written by Don Raye and Hughie Prince, this jump-blues number is about a trumpeter from Chicago who's drafted into the army during World War II and shakes up Reveille as the Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B. It was originally intended for Lou Costello to perform in the 1941 Abbott & Costello comedy, Buck Privates, but was reworked for The Andrews Sisters, who introduced it in the film. The trio also released the tune as a single that same year, and it peaked at #6.
This was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Original Song, but lost to "The Last Time I Saw Paris" from Lady Be Good.
Raye and Prince also wrote the hits "Rhumboogie" and "Beat Me Daddy, Eight To the Bar" for The Andrews Sisters.
This inspired Christina Aguilera's 2006 single "Candyman
," which was written by Linda Perry and sung in the style of The Andrews Sisters.
In 1943, Stars & Stripes magazine and Billboard magazine both claimed the song was based on a soldier named Clarence Zylman of Muskegon, Michigan. Private Zylman was a trumpeter in Tommy Tucker's orchestra who found himself blowing the morning wake-up call for a company of sleepy soldiers who didn't appreciate the jolt from slumber. To ease their grumpiness, Zylman shirked regulation and added some swing to Reveille that had them boogying out of bed. Zylman, however, didn't enlist in the Army until June 9, 1942 - a year after the song debuted.
Another claimant to the "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" title was Harry L. Gish Jr., a trumpeter who played Raye-Prince songs as a studio member of Will Bradley's All Star Orchestra. He became a well-known bugler in the Army Air Corps and, in the '80s and '90s, donned his uniform to perform at services for veterans' funerals.
The Andrews Sisters also recorded new versions for Capitol Records in 1956 and Dot Records in 1962.
The Andrews Sisters sang this again in the 1943 movie Swingtime Johnny, where they play themselves as factory workers who moonlight as nightclub singers. At one point, they try to prove their identity by singing the tune as it plays on a sidewalk radio. But no one buys it, including a man who says, "Every time three dames get together, they think they're The Andrews Sisters."
Bette Midler brought this back to the charts in 1972 when she recorded it for her debut album, The Divine Miss M. Her version, produced by Barry Manilow, peaked at #8 on the Hot 100. It was also reached #1 on the Adult Contemporary chart. Thanks to the hit cover, The Andrews Sisters experienced a career resurgence that included a successful Broadway debut for two of the sisters, Patty and Maxene, in 1974.
The R&B/pop trio En Vogue recorded a version about a "boogie woogie hip-hop boy" for their 1990 debut album, Born To Sing.
Katy Perry, Keri Hilson, and Jennifer Nettles performed this on the 2010 special VH1 Divas Salute The Troops.
In 2015, Rebecca Ferguson, Pixie Lott, and Laura Wright sang this at the 1940s-themed concert VE Day 70: A Party to Remember in London.
Pentatonix recorded an a cappella version for their 2017 Classics EP.
This inspired the 1941 cartoon short Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B, from Walter Lantz Productions, about a jazz club trumpeter who's drafted into the Army as a bugler for an African American company.
Patty Andrews of The Andrews Sisters performed this with Lucille Ball, Lucie Arnaz, and Desi Arnaz Jr. on the 1969 Here's Lucy episode "Lucy And The Andrews Sisters."
This was referenced in the Sesame Street song "Dance Myself To Sleep" when Ernie christened Rubber Duckie "The Boogie Woogie Bugle Duck Of Sesame Street."
This was used on Scream Queens ("Rapunzel, Rapunzel" - 2016), Army Wives ("As Time Goes By…" - 2009), Cold Case ("Family 8108" - 2007), The Proud Family - ("The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly" - 2003), and Boy Meets World ("No Guts, No Cory" - 1997).
It was also prominently featured in these TV shows:
Outlander ("The Search" - 2015): Claire Randall (Caitriona Balfe), a WWII nurse transported to 1743, sings this on the journey to find her kidnapped husband, who will be tipped-off by the modern tune.
Two And A Half Men ("818-jklpuzo" - 2009): Performed by Charlie's ex-fiancee, Mia (Emmanuelle Vaugier), an aspiring singer.
The Simpsons ("Catch 'Em If You Can" - 2004): The Andrews Sisters' Capitol Records cut is playing on a record player that two old men are carrying around.
A Different World ("War And Peace" - 1991): When their friend is called to active duty in the Persian Gulf, Whitley (Jasmine Guy), Jaleesa (Dawnn Lewis), and Kim (Charnele Brown), don military uniforms and perform the tune in his honor.
Mama's Family ("Flaming Forties" - 1983) Thelma (Vicki Lawrence), Fran (Rue McClanahan), and Naomi (Dorothy Lyman) lip-sync to The Andrews Sisters tune during an impromptu performance at a high school dance.
This was also used in these movies:
Pitch Perfect 2 (2015)
Red Tails (2012)
21 And A Wake-Up (2009)
Land Of The Lost (2009)
Racing With The Moon (1984)
In the 1997 miniseries The Shining, this is performed by an orchestra conducted by the story's author, Stephen King.