The Waitresses

Last updated
The Waitresses
Origin Akron, Ohio, United States
Genres New wave, post-punk
Years active1978–1984
LabelsClone Records, ZE Records, Antilles/Island, Polydor/PolyGram, Omnivore Recordings
Past members Chris Butler
Patty Donahue
Billy Ficca
Dan Klayman
Mars Williams
David Hofstra
Ariel Warner
Tracy Wormworth
Holly Beth Vincent

The Waitresses were an American new wave band from Akron, Ohio, [1] [2] best known for their singles "I Know What Boys Like" and "Christmas Wrapping". They released two albums, Wasn't Tomorrow Wonderful? and Bruiseology , and two EPs, I Could Rule the World If I Could Only Get the Parts and Make the Weather. [1]


The group was led by guitarist-songwriter Chris Butler, with lead vocals performed by Patty Donahue. [1] [3]


The Waitresses were formed by Butler (formerly of the Numbers Band) in 1978 as a side project while he was still a member of Tin Huey. [4] He wrote and recorded "I Know What Boys Like" that year, with guest vocals by friend Donahue (as "Patty Darling") and saxophone from Tin Huey member Ralph Carney, although the song remained unreleased at the time. [4] A debut single, In "Short Stack" (featuring the songs "Slide" and "Clones"), recorded solely by Butler, was issued by Clone Records in 1978. [5] Both tracks from the single, plus another early song, "The Comb", appeared that year on The Akron Compilation, issued by Stiff Records. [5]

Butler moved to New York City and shopped "I Know What Boys Like". [4] The song landed him a deal with ZE Records (an affiliate of Antilles Records), who released the single in 1980. [4] It was an underground hit, but did not chart. [6] [7]

With the deal in place, Butler put together an actual band lineup for the Waitresses, featuring lead vocalist Donahue, jazz saxophonist Mars Williams, former Television drummer Billy Ficca, keyboardist Dan Klayman, bassist Dave Hofstra and backing vocalist Ariel Warner. The Waitresses played their debut concert on New Year's Eve 1980. [4]

The Waitresses released their debut album, Wasn't Tomorrow Wonderful? on January 11, 1982 on the Polydor label, licensed from ZE. [3] "I Know What Boys Like" was included on the album, and when the song was re-released as a single in 1982, it peaked at No. 62 on the Billboard Hot 100, [8] No. 23 on Billboard's Top Tracks chart, [9] No. 14 on the Australian Singles Chart (Kent Music Report), [7] and also charted in the UK. [2]

During the recording sessions for the album, which peaked at No. 41 in the Billboard 200 chart, Warner resigned from the band due to stage fright, and Hofstra quit before its release, to be replaced by Tracy Wormworth. [4]

A Christmas song by the band, "Christmas Wrapping", had originally been released on the ZE Records album A Christmas Record in 1981, [1] and became a No. 45 hit in the United Kingdom in 1982. [3] [10] The song was subsequently covered by the Spice Girls in 1998, as the B-side of their single "Goodbye" [1] [11] and on the television show Glee sung by the character Brittany for their 2011 Christmas special. [12] [13]

The Waitresses recorded the theme song to the television program Square Pegs , [3] [14] starring Sarah Jessica Parker and Amy Linker, which aired during the 1982–1983 season, [15] and the band appeared as themselves in the pilot episode. [15] The song was issued by Polydor as a single in 1982, and was included (along with "Christmas Wrapping") on the EP I Could Rule the World If I Could Only Get the Parts that same year. [4]

The band's second album, Bruiseology, was released by Polydor in May 1983, followed by the Make the Weather EP in 1984.

In the summer of 1984, Donahue left the band and was replaced by Holly Beth Vincent, formerly of Holly and the Italians. But Vincent herself left after just two weeks, and Donahue returned. [2] [3]

The Waitresses split up in December 1984. [4]


Donahue died of lung cancer at the age of 40 on December 9, 1996. [3]

Butler later worked as a producer, and played with numerous bands and artists including Half Cleveland, Purple K'nif and Richard Lloyd.

Ficca played in Gods and Monsters and returned to his former group Television when they reunited in 1991. Williams played with the Psychedelic Furs, NRG Ensemble, Liquid Soul, Hal Russell and Ken Vandermark. Wormworth has played bass for the B-52's since 1992.

King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents the Waitresses , a live album recorded in 1982 at My Father's Place in Roslyn, New York, was issued in 1997 by King Biscuit Flower Hour. [16]

Polydor issued two compilation albums, The Best of the Waitresses (1990) [17] and 20th Century Masters – The Millennium Collection: The Best of The Waitresses (2003). [18]

In 2013, Omnivore Recordings released the compilation Just Desserts: The Complete Waitresses, collecting virtually all of the band's recordings for Polydor, [19] [20] while ZE Records issued a digital collection of their ZE releases, Deluxe Special: Ze Complete Recordings. [21]



Studio albums

ReleasedTitlePeak chart
US [22] AUS
1982 Wasn't Tomorrow Wonderful? 4184 Polydor
1983 Bruiseology 155-


ReleasedTitleChart positions
US [22]
1982 I Could Rule the World If I Could Only Get the Parts 128Polydor
1984Make the Weather


YearTitlePeak chart positionsCertificationsAlbum
1978In "Short Stack" ("Slide" / "Clones")Non-album singles
1980"I Know What Boys Like" / "No Guilt"
1981"Christmas Wrapping"45 A Christmas Record
1982"I Know What Boys Like"6214Wasn't Tomorrow Wonderful?
"Square Pegs"I Could Rule the World If I Could Only Get the Parts
1983"Make the Weather"Bruiseology
"—" denotes a recording that did not chart or was not released in that territory.

Live albums

1997 King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents The Waitresses King Biscuit Flower Hour

Compilation albums

ReleasedTitleChart positions
1990 The Best of the Waitresses Polydor
2003 20th Century Masters – The Millennium Collection: The Best of the Waitresses Polydor
2013Just Desserts: The Complete Waitresses Omnivore
2013Deluxe Special: ZE Complete Recordings ZE

Related Research Articles

Television (band) American post-punk band

Television are an American rock band from New York City, most notably active in the 1970s. The group was founded by Tom Verlaine, Richard Lloyd, Billy Ficca, and Richard Hell. An early fixture of CBGB and the 1970s New York rock scene, the band is considered influential in the development of punk and alternative music.

Taco (musician)

Taco Ockerse, known mononymously as Taco, is an Indonesian-born Dutch singer and entertainer who started his career in Germany.

Was is an American pop rock group founded in 1979 in Detroit, Michigan, by David Weiss and Don Fagenson, who adopted the stage names David Was and Don Was. Their song catalog features an eclectic mix of pop and rock styles, often featuring guest musicians from across the musical spectrum. The band's most popular period was during the 1980s and early 1990s, with their highest charting hit, the song "Walk the Dinosaur", released in 1987 as the lead single from their 1988 album What Up, Dog?, which became a world-wide top-40 hit and peaked at No. 7 on the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart. The band went on indefinite hiatus in the mid-1990s, but has returned sporadically since the turn of the millennium. Their most recent release was the 2008 album Boo!

Tracy Wormworth

Tracy Ann Wormworth is an American bass guitarist and musician. She is the sister of The Conan O'Brien Show drummer James Wormworth, daughter of jazz drummer Jimmy Wormworth and sister of vocalist Mary Wormworth.

Holly Beth Vincent is an American singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and record producer.

Patty Donahue American singer

Patricia Jean Donahue was the lead singer of the 1980s new wave group the Waitresses. She is best known for the band’s singles "I Know What Boys Like" and "Christmas Wrapping."

Dorsey William Burnette III is an American guitarist, singer, and songwriter who was part of the band Fleetwood Mac from 1987 to 1995. Burnette also had a brief career in acting.

Christmas Wrapping 1981 Christmas song by the Waitresses

"Christmas Wrapping" is a Christmas song by the American new wave band the Waitresses. It was first released on the 1981 compilation album A Christmas Record on ZE Records, and also appears on the Waitresses' 1982 EP I Could Rule the World If I Could Only Get the Parts and numerous Christmas holiday compilation albums. It was written and produced by Chris Butler, with vocals by Patty Donahue. The song received positive reviews and AllMusic described it as "one of the best holiday pop tunes ever recorded".

<i>Wasnt Tomorrow Wonderful?</i> 1982 studio album by The Waitresses

Wasn't Tomorrow Wonderful? is the debut album of new wave band the Waitresses, originally released in 1982 by Polydor, licensed from ZE Records.

<i>Bruiseology</i> 1983 studio album by Waitresses

Bruiseology is the second and final studio album by new wave band the Waitresses, released by Polydor Records in 1983. The album was recorded amidst personnel conflict and the band disbanded a year later.

<i>I Could Rule the World If I Could Only Get the Parts</i> 1982 EP by The Waitresses

I Could Rule the World If I Could Only Get the Parts is an EP by the Waitresses. It includes the singles "Christmas Wrapping" (1981) and "Square Pegs" (1982); the latter was the theme song of the television series of the same name.

<i>20th Century Masters – The Millennium Collection: The Best of The Waitresses</i> 2003 greatest hits album by The Waitresses

20th Century Masters – The Millennium Collection: The Best of the Waitresses is a compilation album from the Waitresses. Released by Polydor Records in 2003, it consists of the same tracks and uses the same running order as a previous compilation, The Best of the Waitresses (1990), minus the songs "Jimmy Tomorrow", "The Smartest Person I Know" and "They're All Out of Liquor, Let's Find Another Party".

Israel (Siouxsie and the Banshees song)

"Israel" is a song by English rock band Siouxsie and the Banshees, released as a stand-alone single in 1980 by Polydor Records. The track was written by Siouxsie and the Banshees and co-produced with Nigel Gray, it featured a 30 singer Welsh choir on backing vocals. While touring in Europe in Autumn 1980, the band wanted to write a Christmas song to be released on time for December of that year. They composed it on the road, which was quite unusual for them.

Adrian Baker

Adrian Baker is an English singer, songwriter, and record producer.

Christopher Butler is an American musician, writer and artist who is best known for conceptualizing and leading the 1980s new wave band The Waitresses. Among Butler's most notable songs are "I Know What Boys Like", "No Guilt", "Christmas Wrapping" and the theme song for the TV sitcom Square Pegs.

My Oh My (Slade song) 1983 single by Slade

"My Oh My" is a song by the British rock band Slade, released in 1983 as the second single from the band's eleventh studio album The Amazing Kamikaze Syndrome, and in 1984 as the second single from the album's US counterpart Keep Your Hands Off My Power Supply. The song was written by lead vocalist Noddy Holder and bassist Jim Lea, and produced by John Punter. It reached No. 2 in the UK and was also the band's second Top 40 hit in America, where it reached No. 37.

Ian Lloyd (musician) American rock singer and songwriter (born 1947)

Ian Lloyd is an American rock singer and songwriter, best known as the lead singer of the band Stories, whose single "Brother Louie" was number one on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1973.

Big Country Scottish rock band

Big Country are a Scottish rock band formed in Dunfermline, Fife, in 1981.

<i>A Christmas Record</i> 1981 compilation album by Various artists

A Christmas Record is an LP originally released in 1981 by ZE Records. It was recorded by various musicians from that label's roster, including Was, August Darnell, Material, Suicide, Cristina, and The Waitresses, all performing original seasonal songs. The album was reissued in 1982, as a "Special Edition", with a revised track listing. In 2004, a further revised version was issued on CD, as ZE Xmas Record Reloaded 2004. The 2004 version was remastered and re-released again in 2016 under its original title and artwork, with one of the 1982 "Special Edition" songs restored.

I Know What Boys Like 1980 single by The Waitresses

"I Know What Boys Like" is a song written by guitarist Chris Butler in 1978, while he was still a member of the rock band Tin Huey.


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 Huey, Steve. "The Waitresses: Biography". All Music Guide . Retrieved October 25, 2012.
  2. 1 2 3 Moore, Christie (October 30, 2006). ""W: The Waitresses"". The Unultimate Rockopedia. AuthorHouse. p. 408. ISBN   1-425964-74-5 . Retrieved October 25, 2012.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Talevski, Nick (August 1, 2006). "Patti Donahue". Knocking on Heaven's Door: Rock Obituaries. Omnibus Press. p. 137. ISBN   1-846090-91-1 . Retrieved October 25, 2012. Source states The Waitresses were based in Kent, Ohio, rather than Akron.
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "The Waitresses - Biography". Billboard. 1996-12-09. Retrieved 2017-09-07.
  5. 1 2 Pouncey, Edwin (March 6, 1982). "The Waitresses: What The Butler Said" . Sounds . Retrieved June 21, 2018 via Rock's Backpages.
  6. Popoff, Martin (September 2, 2010). Goldmine Standard Catalog of American Records 1948–1991. Krause. p. 1233. ISBN   978-1-440216-21-3 . Retrieved October 25, 2012.
  7. 1 2 "Top Album Picks: First Time Around". Billboard . 94 (5): 71. February 6, 1982. ISSN   0006-2510 . Retrieved October 25, 2012. "The self-made single, 'I Know What Boys Like', has been a New York club favorite for a couple of years now..." (emphasis added).
  8. "Hot 100: Week of June 5, 1982". June 12, 1982. Retrieved October 25, 2012.
  9. "Billboard Rock Albums & Top Tracks". Billboard. 94 (8): 24. February 27, 2012. ISSN   0006-2510 . Retrieved October 25, 2012.
  10. Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 589. ISBN   1-904994-10-5.
  11. "100 Hot Holiday Songs". Retrieved March 29, 2011.
  12. "'Glee' Extraordinary Merry Christmas (2011)". IMDb. Retrieved October 25, 2012.
  13. Votta, Rae (December 14, 2011). "'Glee' Recap: Anything But a Silent Night". Retrieved October 25, 2012.
  14. "Waitresses, The – I Could Rule The World If I Could Only Get the Parts". Retrieved October 25, 2012.
  15. 1 2 "The Waitresses". Internet Movie Database (IMDb). Retrieved October 25, 2012.
  16. "King Biscuit Flower Hour - The Waitresses - Songs, Reviews, Credits - AllMusic". AllMusic.
  17. Woodstra, Chris. The Best of the Waitresses at AllMusic . Retrieved January 15, 2019.
  18. Phares, Heather. 20th Century Masters – The Millennium Collection: The Best of The Waitresses at AllMusic . Retrieved January 15, 2019.
  19. Jeffries, David. "Just Desserts: The Complete Waitresses" . Retrieved 10 December 2013.
  20. "The Waitresses: Just Desserts: The Complete Waitresses".
  21. Records, Ze. "The Waitresses – Deluxe Special: Ze Complete Recordings".
  22. 1 2 "The Waitresses Chart History: Billboard 200". . Archived from the original on October 25, 2019.
  23. 1 2 Kent, David (1993). Australian Chart Book 1970–1992 (illustrated ed.). St Ives, N.S.W.: Australian Chart Book. p. 331. ISBN   0-646-11917-6.
  24. "The Waitresses Chart History: Hot 100". . Archived from the original on October 25, 2019.
  25. "Waitresses: Singles". . Archived from the original on October 20, 2018.
  26. "BRIT Certified - bpi" (To access, enter the search parameter "The Waitresses"). British Phonographic Industry . Retrieved 9 December 2019.

Further reading