Patti Page (the Singing Rage) ©1999JCMarion
Patti Page was born Clara Ann Fowler in Muskogee, Oklahoma in 1927. Her interest in music gave her career a start in local radio. One of her sponsors during those days on Tulsa station KTULwas the Page Dairy, from which she got her professional name. Jack Rael who was the road manager for the Jimmy Joy band, heard her and got her a job as vocalist with the band. He then became her manager and landed Page a spot on the Breakfast Club radio show from Chicago in 1947. She appeared as a solo vocalist in night spots in the Chicago-Milwaukee area, and signed a recording contract with the recently formed Mercury record label which was based in Chicago. In late May and early June of 1948 Patti was singing vocals with the Benny Goodman sextet at club dates in the Philadelphia area. Many of these appearances were broadcast over local station KYW and others on the CBS radio network from the Philadelphia club, The Click. versions of "The Man I Love", "Little White Lies", and "Confess" from these broadcasts are preserved from Armed Forces Radio Services airchecks. One of the tunes she sang with the combo became her first charted record.
In July of 1948 the song "Confess" by Patti Page entered the hit charts and was a moderate hit that cracked the top twenty. The follow up song "So In Love" barely made the list at all early the next year. It was the next release however, that started the great wave of popularity that would make Patti Page a household name and one of the biggest selling recording artists of the pop music years. The song was called "With My Eyes Wide Open I'm Dreaming" and featured the unique multi tracking process that was also being developed by Les Paul and Mary Ford. By recording in this method, Patti Page is singing four part harmony. In fact the early Mercury recordings were listed on the label as vocal by Patti Page written four times. The hit status of the record carried over into 1950 and remained on the charts for more than three months.
1950 also produced two even bigger hits. The first was "All My Love" which was written in France under the name "Bolero", which just missed getting to the coveted number one spot, remaining in the second position for five weeks, and on the top selling records list for more than five months. The song with English lyrics written by Mitchell Parrish gave Patti her third million seller. In searching for a follow up recording, it was a return once again to her country music roots to do a song written by Redd Stewart and PeeWee King for their Golden West Cowboys group, and also was a country hit for Cowboy Copas- "The Tennessee Waltz". The song was a massive hit going to number one and remaining on the hit parade for over six months. The multi tracked vocal with muted orchestration in waltz time was to be forever identified with Patti Page. It is estimated that the record has sold close to fifteen million copies throughout the years. The popularity of the recording made the song the last one to sell one million copies of sheet music, due to the exploding popularity of recorded music. By now Page was a major star, and the year of 1951 would be a busy one in the recording studio. The first charted record of the new year was a bit of a departure in that it was an up tempo tune. It was called "Would I Love You" and it sold well (a million seller), lasting for more than four months on the best seller list and getting into the top ten. The next release was the Patti Page version of a Les Paul and Mary Ford hit "Mockin' Bird Hill". Despite the appeal of the original, Page's effort was good enough to reach the number three position and last for a total of twenty two weeks on the top sales chart and sell a million copies."Ever True Ever More" and "Down The Trail Of Aching Hearts" were the two sides of the next Mercury release and both were minor hits just barely charting. The next record was "These Things I Offer You" which was also a minor hit, but the flip side called "Mister and Mississippi" was a substantial seller (again over a million) making the top ten and lasting on the best seller list for more than three months. Another country tune provided the next hit. It was called "Detour", and had been previously recorded by Foy Willing and Elton Britt. The Patti Page version got as high as the number twelve spot and had a run of fourteen weeks on the charts and became eventually, Patti Page's seventh million seller. Closing out the year was a song called "And So To Sleep Again", which made the top ten and had a three and a half month stay on the best seller list.
1952 began with a record that reached number eleven and lasted eleven weeks on the hit parade. The song was "Come What May". The follow up was a moderate hit called "Whispering Winds". The third charted record of the year was an old Tommy Dorsey tune called "Once In A While" which was originally an instrumental named "Dancing With You". It also was a moderate seller. The very next Mercury release was a two sided smash hit. One side was a cover of Jo Stafford's "You Belong To Me" which made the top ten and remained on the charts for fourteen weeks. The flip side was a huge seller and a number one record. It was "I Went To Your Wedding", a country waltz somewhat similar to the "Tennessee Waltz" of one year earlier. The song written by Jessie Mae Robinson became the eighth record by Page to pass one million in sales. The next release was "Why Don"t You Believe Me?" which is better known as Joni James debut hit, but again the Page style propelled the record to a respectable showing just missing the top ten and having a decent run on the charts. The year of 1953 began with a huge hit of a kind of novelty ballad that is usually set as an example of the deficiencies of pop music of the early fifties. However at the time an awful lot of people must have really liked the song to have made it such a massive hit record. The song was "Doggie In The Window", a sentimental ballad in waltz time complete with little doggie yelps, barks etc. The record was a number one, multi- million seller and lasted on the charts for more than five months, most of the first half of 1953 ! The next release barely made the charts, a tune called "Butterflies", but the following record hit the big time once again. The song was "Changing Partners", another country flavored ballad. Again the result was a million seller (the tenth for Page) and a number four record that stayed for five months on the charts.
The hits continued as 1954 began. "Cross Over The Bridge" written by long time tune smiths Benny Benjamin and George Weiss, was the eleventh million seller for Patti and got as high as number three on the hit parade and remained a best seller for five months. A hit tune from the stage play The Pajama Game called "Steam Heat" was next on the charts. It placed in the top twenty and lasted for two months. In a move that signalled what was to come in American popular music, Patti Page next covered R & B star vocalist Ruth Brown on the Chuck Willis tune "Oh What A Dream". The result was a three month stay on the best seller charts and a top twenty record. The rest of the year produced moderate chart hits - "I Cried", "The Mama Doll Song", and a cover of Joan Weber's "Let Me Go Lover" from TV's dramatic program Studio One which made into the top ten.
Patti Page had only one recording to chart during the year 1955. It was called "Croce Di Oro (Cross Of Gold)". In the ensuing years bucking the rock and roll trend that took over popular music, Patti Page continued to do well with recordings. Three more million sellers followed - "Allegheny Moon" and "Old Cape Cod" (reprising the multi tracked vocals) in 1956, and "Left Right Out Of Your Heart" in 1958. Other big hits were "Mama From The Train" in 1956, "Belonging To Someone" in 1958, and her last charted record "Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte" from the picture of the same name in 1965, a top ten record for Columbia, the only one not a product of her long association with Mercury records.The late fifties also saw a Patti Page TV show, and a featured role in the motion picture Elmer Gantry. Two albums charted briefly-"Manhattan Tower" a vocal version of Gordon Jenkins orchestral suite; and "Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte" in 1965 for Columbia.
For the Interlude Years 1946-1955, Patti Page had a total of twentynine charted records. Ten were in the top ten and three were number one records. Ten were million sellers. These results make Patti Page the most prolific female singer of the era. And the music did not stop in 1955. As has been noted Page had more hits including three more million sellers in the late fifties. She almost single handedly kept Mercury records at the forefront of popular music during these times. Patti Page was certainly the number one practitioner of her craft during the golden era of American pop music.
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