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Legendary Singer Patti Page, 85, Dies

Superstar Singer of 1940's and 50's

PATTI PAGE, "THE SINGING RAGE," ONE OF THE MOST SUCCESSFUL singers in the post-Big Band era passed away in her home in Encinitas, California, Tuesday at age 85.

During the peak of her career, she was turning out top-hit recordings regularly.  One of her biggest hits, "Tennessee Waltz" recorded in 1951 sold 10 million copies and was the first major "crossover" success having already become a #1 title on the country music charts and following her recording, also the rhythm and blues lists.

Patti Page in 1958 publicity photo  (AP)

Anita Gates, writing in the New York Times, tells us:

She was born Clara Ann Fowler on Nov. 8, 1927, in Claremore, Okla., a small town near Tulsa that was also the birthplace of Will Rogers. She was one of 11 children of a railroad laborer.

Having shown talent as an artist, Clara took a job in the art department of the Tulsa radio station KTUL, but an executive there had heard her sing and soon asked her to take over a short country-music show called "Meet Patti Page" (Time magazine called it "a hillbilly affair"), sponsored by Page Milk. She adopted the fictional character’s name and kept it.

The newly named Ms. Page broke away from her radio career to tour with Jimmy Joy’s band and was shortly signed by Mercury Records. She had her first hit record, "With My Eyes Wide Open, I’m Dreaming," in 1950. Other notable recordings were "Cross Over the Bridge," "Mockin’ Bird Hill," "Allegheny Moon" and her last hit, "Hush … Hush, Sweet Charlotte," which she recorded as the theme for the Bette Davis movie of the same name. It was nominated for an Oscar, and Ms. Page sang it on the 1965 Academy Awards telecast.

Ms. Page was believed to be the first recording artist to overdub herself, long before technology made that method common. Mitch Miller, a producer for Mercury Records at the time, had her do it first on "Confess," in 1948, when (she could not afford to hire backup singers).

Her career had peaked before the Grammy Awards program was created in 1959, but it was announced last month that she would receive a lifetime achievement award at the 55th annual Grammy Awards in February.

Billboard Magazine has a good recap of her career and achievements HERE.  It tells how Tennessee Waltz became one of those legenday "fluke" hits.


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