Patti Page was born on Nov. 8, 1927, in Claremore, Oklahoma to a family which included three boys and eight girls. "I was a kid from Oklahoma who never wanted to be a singer but was told I could sing," Page said in 1999. "And things snowballed."
Page took her stage name from her first job following high school, a 15-minute program on radio station KTUL. The program was sponsored by the Page Milk Company and the (female) singer was dubbed 'Patti'. The regular 'Patti Page' singer left and Fowler took the name with her on her road to fame.
While working on the show, her voice caught the attention of Jack Rael, a saxophone player and band leader in town for a gig. He called the radio station and learned that Patti was local. Following an interview, she was invited to join the band and accepted the offer. Their touring led them to Chicago where she had lunch with Benny Goodman. That opened the doors for a recording contract with Mercury Records.
Mitch Miller was a producer for Mercury Records and, like Rael, enjoyed Page's voice. In 1947, she recorded "Confess". There was no money for backup singers so Patti overdubbed her own voice on that recording. Mercury Records couldn't risk paying those expenses but approved of her effort. The song reached #12 on the charts and her career was under way.
Her distinctive sound was parlayed into a follow-up single entitled "With My Eyes Wide Open I'm Dreaming", a song on which she overdubbed a full four-part harmony piece. The label of that recording read "vocals by Patti Page, Patti Page, Patti Page and Patti Page".
Page's biggest hit and signature song was a complete fluke. Mercury Records wanted a Christmas song and had her record "Boogie Woogie Santa Claus" with "Tennessee Waltz" as the B-side. Disc jockies turned the record over for airplay and "Tennessee Waltz" became a huge hit, obscuring the A-side. It went on to cross over onto the country and the R & B charts. The song was on the charts for 30 weeks, 12 in the Top 10, eventually selling over 10 million copies.
Other hits included "(How Much is That) Doggie in the Window", "Mockin' Bird Hill", "Allegheny Moon" and "Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte". The popularity of these recordings kept her career alive after contemporary pop yielded to mainstream rock and roll. Instead of infusing her songs with jazz (like Julie London), Page preferred to have a country feel to her music. She recorded "You Never Looked That Good When You Were Mine" with George Jones.
Page died on New Year's day in Encinitas, California, at the age of 85. She was five weeks away from being honored with a lifetime achievement award at this year's Grammy Awards. She is survived by son Daniel O'Curran, daughter Kathleen Ginn and her sister, Peggy Layton.