The Waitresses

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The Waitresses
OriginAkron, Ohio, United States
GenresNew wave, post-punk
Years active1978–1984
LabelsClone Records, ZE Records, Antilles/Island, Polydor/PolyGram, Omnivore Recordings
Past membersChris 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. 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. 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." 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, 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[edit]

Year Title Peak chart
1982 Wasn't Tomorrow Wonderful? 41 84 Polydor
1983 Bruiseology 155


Year Title US
1982 I Could Rule the World If I Could Only Get the Parts 128 Polydor
1984 Make the Weather


Year Title Peak chart positions Certifications Album
1978 In "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" 62 14 Wasn'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[edit]

Released Title Label
1997 King Biscuit Flower Hour Presents the Waitresses King Biscuit Flower Hour

Compilation albums[edit]

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


  1. ^ a b c d e Huey, Steve. "The Waitresses: Biography". All Music Guide. Retrieved October 25, 2012.
  2. ^ a b c Moore, Christie (October 30, 2006). ""W: The Waitresses"". The Unultimate Rockopedia. AuthorHouse. p. 408. ISBN 1-425964-74-5. Retrieved October 25, 2012.
  3. ^ a b c d e f 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. ^ a b c d e f "The Waitresses - Biography". Billboard. 1996-12-09. Retrieved 2017-09-07.
  5. ^ 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. ^ a b "Top Album Picks: First Time Around". Billboard. Vol. 94, no. 5. February 6, 1982. p. 71. 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. Vol. 94, no. 8. February 27, 2012. p. 24. 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. ^ "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". AllMusic. Retrieved 10 December 2013.
  20. ^ "The Waitresses: Just Desserts: The Complete Waitresses".
  21. ^ Records, Ze. "The Waitresses – Deluxe Special: Ze Complete Recordings".
  22. ^ a b "The Waitresses Chart History: Billboard 200". Archived from the original on October 25, 2019.
  23. ^ a b 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. ^ "British certifications – Waitresses". British Phonographic Industry. Retrieved 24 December 2021. Type Waitresses in the "Search BPI Awards" field and then press Enter.

Further reading[edit]

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