January 1, 2013 – Patti Page was born Clara Ann Fowler on November 8, 1927 in Claremore, Oklahoma (although some sources give Muskogee ) into a large and poor family. Her father worked on the MKT railroad, while her mother and older sisters picked cotton. As she related on television many years later, the family went without electricity, and therefore she could not read after dark. She was raised in Foraker, Hardy, Muskogee and Avant, Oklahoma, before attending Daniel Webster High School in Tulsa, from which she graduated in 1945.
Clara Ann Fowler started off her career as a songstress with Al Clauser and his Oklahoma Outlaws at KTUL. Fowler became a featured singer on a 15-minute radio program on radio station KTUL, Tulsa, Oklahoma, at age 18. The program was sponsored by the “Page Milk Company.” On the air, Fowler was dubbed “Patti Page,” after the Page Milk Company. In 1946, Jack Rael, a saxophone player and band manager, came to Tulsa to do a one-night show. Rael heard Page on the radio and liked her voice. Rael asked her to join the band he managed, the “Jimmy Joy Band.” Rael would later become Page’s personal manager, after leaving the band.
Page toured with the “Jimmy Joy Band” throughout the country in the mid-1940s. The band eventually ended up in Chicago, Illinois, in 1947. In Chicago, Page sang with a small group led by popular orchestra leader, Benny Goodman. This helped Page gain her first recording contract with Mercury Records the same year. She became Mercury’s “girl singer”.
Page recorded her first hit single, titled “Confess,” in 1947. Because of a strike, background singers were not available to provide harmony vocals for the song, so instead, Page and the label decided to overdub her own. Bill Putnam, an engineer for Mercury Records, was able to overdub Page’s voice, due to his well-known use of technology. Thus, Page became the first pop artist to overdub her vocals on a song. This idea would later be used on Page’s biggest hit singles in the 1950s. In 1948, “Confess” became a Top 15 hit on Billboard magazine, peaking at No. 12 on the “Best-Sellers” chart, becoming her first major hit on the pop chart. Page followed the single with four more in 1948–1949, only one of which was a Top 20 hit, “So in Love” (1949). Page also had a Top 15 hit on the Billboard magazine country chart in 1949 with “Money, Marbles, and Chalk.”
Her first million-selling single “With My Eyes Wide Open, I’m Dreaming,” was another song where she harmonized her vocals. Hilariously because she was overdubbing her vocals, Page’s name would be listed on the Pop charts as a group name. According to one early-1950s’ chart, Page was titled as “The Patti Page Quartet,” among others. Towards the middle of 1950, Page’s single, “All My Love (Bolero)” peaked at No. 1 on Billboard magazine, becoming her first No. 1 hit, spending five weeks there. That same year, she also had her first Top 10 hit with “I Don’t Care if the Sun Don’t Shine,” as well as the Top 25 single, “Back in Your Own Backyard.”
As Patti Page She became the top-charting female vocalist and best-selling female artist of the 1950s, selling over 100 million records during a six decade long career. She was often introduced as “the Singin’ Rage, Miss Patti Page”. New York WNEW disc-jockey William B. Williams introduced her as “A Page in my life called Patti”.
Page signed with Mercury Records in 1947, and became their first successful female artist, starting with 1948’s “Confess”. In 1950, she had her first million-selling single “With My Eyes Wide Open, I’m Dreaming”. Towards the end of 1950, Page’s version of “Tennessee Waltz” became her second No. 1 hit, and her most-popular and biggest-selling single. Today, the song has come close to selling fifteen million copies. It also became the last song to sell one million copies of sheet music, due to the increasing popularity of recorded music.
It was featured in the 1970 in the American drama film Zabriskie Point directed by Michelangelo Antonioni, and in the 1983 in the film The Right Stuff.She would eventually have 14 additional million-selling singles between 1950 and 1965. (I Went to Your Wedding,”(How Much Is That) Doggie In the Window”, “Cross Over the Bridge,” etc.)
During the 1950s and 60s, Page regularly appeared on a series of network television shows and programs, including The Ed Sullivan Show, The Bob Hope Show, The Steve Allen Show and The Dean Martin Show. This eventually led to Page acquiring some television specials of her own during the 1950s. Page would later have her own series, beginning with Scott Music Hall on NBC in the 1952–53 season, and a syndicated series for Oldsmobile in 1955 titled The Patti Page Show. However, the show only lasted one season, as did The Big Record on CBS (1957–58) and ABC’s The Patti Page Olds Show, sponsored by Oldsmobile (1958–59). Page also acted in films during this time, given a role on the CBS show, Playhouse 90. Page made her film debut in the 1960s, with the 1960 film Elmer Gantry. Page also recorded the theme song for the film Boys Night Out, in which Page also had a role, playing Joanne McIllenny. In 1959, Page recorded the title song from the musical The Sound of Music for Mercury Records on the same day that the musical opened on Broadway. Since it was recorded a week before the original Broadway cast album, Page was the first artist to record any song from the musical. She featured the song on her TV show, The Patti Page Olds Show, helping to popularize the musical.
In the early 1960s, Page’s success began to wane, having no major hits up until 1961’s “You’ll Answer to Me” and “Mom and Dad’s Waltz.” Page had her last major hit on the Billboard Pop Chart in 1965 with “Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte,” from the film of the same name[ starring Bette Davis and Olivia de Havilland, which peaked at No. 8, becoming her last top 10 hit (and her first since 1957).
Unlike most pop music singers, Page blended country music styles into many of her most popular songs. As a result of this crossover appeal, many of Page’s singles appeared on the Billboard Country Chart. Towards the 1970s, she shifted her career towards country music and began having greater success on its charts, ending up one of the few vocalists to have made them in five separate decades.
In 1997, Patti Page was inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame.
Patti Page died on January 1, 2013, at the Seacrest Village Retirement Community in Encinitas, California, according to her manager. She was 85 years old. Page had been suffering from heart and lung disease.