There have been a lot of musical siblings through the years and some of them immediately come to mind, but it's difficult to imagine a group of brothers and sisters quite like the Dinnings. Over a period of several decades, they covered just about every aspect of music; including songwriting, bandleading, recording, and performing on stage and screen. And those doing the performing included a popular all-girl singing group, and a young crooner who thrilled teens with a chart-topping hit that was banned in Great Britain. (And if that wasn't enough, the family's next generation included a member of a popular modern rock group — but more later about that.)
Of course, there were nine Dinning siblings so that gave them a leg up but it's still a fascinating story, one that began with a musical childhood in Oklahoma encouraged by their father, the musical director of a church. As the older siblings began to reach adulthood it didn't take long for them to start making their mark, beginning with brother Ace Dinning, who found some success in the 1930s as a songwriter and sax-playing bandleader. One of his compositions, "Don't You Remember," would later be a good seller for both Dean Martin and Nat King Cole, but Ace's biggest contribution to the family's musical fortunes was probably providing a place for his singing sisters to begin their careers.
The Dinning Sisters, consisting of twins Jean and Ginger along with Lou, were able to use their experience with Ace's band as a stepping stone to Herbie Holmes' group, and from there to NBC radio. In the years leading up to World War II they became very popular radio stars, and during the war they appeared with Ozzie Nelson's orchestra in a Hollywood film. By the time the war ended they were ready to hit the recording studio, and their debut album stayed on the charts for months. Things were going well but the following year Lou left to get married and try her hand at a solo career. The trio kept right on performing, with replacement Jayne Bundesen doing the honors until she was later replaced by another Dinning sister, Tootsie.
The Dinning Sisters continued to do well in the post-war years, with good-selling records on songs like "The Way You Look Tonight," "Once In A While," and their biggest, "Buttons And Bows." It was introduced in the Bob Hope movie, Paleface, and even though Dinah Shore had the most popular version, the Dinning Sisters' record still made the Top Ten on the charts.