The Waitresses

The Waitresses
Origin Akron, Ohio, United States
Genres New wave, post-punk
Years active 1978–1984
Labels Clone Records, ZE Records, Antilles Records, Polydor Records, Omnivore Recordings
Past members Chris Butler
Patty Donahue
Billy Ficca
Dan Klayman
Mars Williams
Dave Hofstra
Ariel Warner
Tracy Wormworth
Holly Beth Vincent

The Waitresses were an experimental post-punk band from Akron, Ohio,[1][2] 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 relocated 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 left due to stage fright, and Hofstra departed 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][12][13]

The Waitresses recorded the theme song to the television program Square Pegs,[3][14] starring Sarah Jessica Parker, 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.

Donahue left the band in summer 1984 and was briefly replaced by Holly Beth Vincent (formerly of Holly and the Italians). Vincent departed two weeks later and Donahue returned.[2][3] The band finally split up in late 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, 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) and 20th Century Masters – The Millennium Collection: The Best of the Waitresses (2003).

In 2013, Omnivore Recordings released the compilation Just Desserts: The Complete Waitresses, collecting virtually all of the band's recordings for Polydor,[17][18] while ZE Records issued a digital collection of their ZE releases, Deluxe Special: Ze Complete Recordings.[19][20]



Studio albums

ReleasedTitleChart positions
1982Wasn't Tomorrow Wonderful?41Polydor

Live albums

ReleasedTitleChart positions
1997King Biscuit Flower HourKing Biscuit Flower Hour

Compilation albums

ReleasedTitleChart positions
1990The Best of the WaitressesPolydor
200320th Century Masters – The Millennium Collection: The Best of the Waitresses Polydor
2013Just Desserts: The Complete WaitressesOmnivore
2013Deluxe Special: ZE Complete RecordingsZE


ReleasedTitleChart positions
1982I Could Rule the World If I Could Only Get the Parts128Polydor
1984Make the Weather


Year Title Peak chart positions Album
1978 In "Short Stack" ("Slide" / "Clones")
1980 "I Know What Boys Like" / "No Guilt"
1981 "Christmas Wrapping" A Christmas Record
1982 "I Know What Boys Like" 62 Wasn't Tomorrow Wonderful?
"Square Pegs" I Could Rule the World If I Could Only Get the Parts
"Christmas Wrapping" 45 A Christmas Record
1983 "Make the Weather" Bruiseology


  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 1-440216-21-5. 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. 1 2 "'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. Jeffries, David. "Just Desserts: The Complete Waitresses". Retrieved 10 December 2013.
  18. "The Waitresses: Just Desserts: The Complete Waitresses".
  19. Records, Ze. "ZE RECORDS - Independant since 1978".
  20. "The Waitresses - Deluxe Special Ze Complete Recordings". Discogs.

Further reading

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