Craig Allen says: ‘Meet the Waitresses’
An experimental new wave band from Akron, Ohio, the "Waitresses," could mostly be referred to as "Waiters."The band was lead by guitarist and songwriter Chris Butler.
In his 1990 liner notes to "The Best Of The Waitresses" (pictured above), Butler describes how he first met lead singer Patty Donahue:
"One day I write this song, and then its noon and the liquid lunchers are packed into a ...bar. I stand on a chair and bang a beer bottle for attention and declare: I need a chanteuse to coo a tune. The song is funny and stupid and cool and different, and is anybody interested?"
"A voice in the back says 'uh-huh.' It's Patty."
The "Waitresses" formed in 1978.
The name came, in part, from a t-shirt that a woman at one of Butler's diner hangouts wore to work one day: "Waitresses Unite!"
One thing Butler knew for sure, was that he didn't want to stay in Akron. After some starts and stops, he moves to New York City, and through a circuitous route, winds up signing a deal with ZE Records (part of the Island Records label).
He wires $50 to Patty to buy a bus ticket to New York, so that she can join the band "only if you want to." She does.
He then pieces together a band. The rest of the initial "Waitresses" are:
Mars Williams on saxophone, Billy Ficca on drums, Dan Klayman on keyboards, and bassist Tracy Wormworth.
"I Know What Boys Like" was released in 1980, but it didn't chart! It did become somewhat of an underground hit.
It was re-issued on the 1982 album "Wasn't Tomorrow Wonderful."
It went to #62 on the Billboard Hot 100 in 1982...hit #23 on Billboard's Top Tracks chart. It was a #14 hit in Australia, and charted in England as well.
Remember the 1980's TV show "Square Pegs"? I can honestly say that I remember the name...but never watched the show.
The Waitresses recorded the show's theme (1982-1983), and appeared as themselves in the pilot episode!
I know...I haven't gotten to the Christmas part, yet...
"A Christmas Record" was released by ZE Records in 1981...it contained one of Jersey's Favorite "Christmas Classics and Holiday Hits!"
While it didn't chart on the Hot 100 in New Jersey, "Christmas Wrapping " hit #45 on the British pop charts in 1982. Of course, it is a radio Christmas staple, now.
This past Monday evening, I was engineering the night show for Jeff Edelstein...and in the 10:00 hour, we were asking you to share your favorite Christmas Classic with us!
Turns out that "Christmas Wrapping" is Jeff's fave...but I digress...
So, what else has happened in the Waitresses' timeline?
Lead singer Patty Donahue left the band in the summer of 1984. She was briefly...and I mean briefly...replaced by Holly Beth Vincent. After two weeks, Vincent departed, and Donahue returned to the Waitresses!
The Waitresses took their last order...splitting up, in late 1984.
Sadly, Patty Donahue died of lung cancer on December 9, 1996. She was 40...
But, the music lives on.
I've already mentioned the "Wasn't Tomorrow Wonderful" album, and "A Christmas Record." They also put out the "Bruiseology" album, and one EP: "I Could Rule The World If I Could Only Get The Parts."
In addition to my 1990 "Best Of" compilation (pictured above), "Just Desserts: The Complete Waitresses" was released in 2013.
"Order UP," New Jersey!