Oklahoma pop music icon Patti Page died on New Year’s Day in Encinitas, Calif., publicist Schatzi Hageman announced today. The singer was 85.
Her death came just a few weeks before the Oklahoma native was to receive a Lifetime Achievement Award from The Recording Academy as part of next month’s Grammy Week.
Born Clara Ann Fowler on Nov. 8, 1927, in Claremore, Page was a pop icon and the biggest-selling female artist of the 1950s, with a legacy and influence that spanned generations. She released more than 100 albums and 160 singles in a career that has spanned more than six decades, earning her the nickname “The Singing Rage,” according to her Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame biography.
During her remarkable recording career, Page had an astounding 111 chart hits, including pop classics like “(How Much Is That) Doggie In the Window,” “Old Cape Cod,” and “Tennessee Waltz,” which became a No. 1 hit concurrently on the pop, country and R&B charts.
Her other hits included “Mockin’ Bird Hill,” ”Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte,” and “Allegheny Moon.” She teamed with George Jones on “You Never Looked That Good When You Were Mine.”Her unique and smooth vocal style seamlessly blended country and pop music.
“I was a kid from Oklahoma who never wanted to be a singer, but was told I could sing,” she said in a 1999 Associated Press interview. “And things snowballed.”
The Tulsa-bred songstress recorded 50 albums, with 19 gold and 14 platinum singles. She was a regular on the music and variety shows of television’s Golden Age and was the only musical performer in history to have her own series on all three major networks.
Inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame as part of its inaugural class in 1997, Page also was awarded the Living Legend Award from the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame and the Pioneer Award from the Academy of Country Music. She has stars on both the Hollywood Walk of Fame and the Country Music Walk of Fame, and she earned a Grammy in 1998 for Best Traditional Pop Vocal Performance for her CD “Patti Page Live at Carnegie Hall – The 50th Anniversary Concert.”
In 2009, Page published “This Is My Song: A Memoir.” After her musical breakthrough in the 1950s, she spent much of the rest of her life traveling the world and performing.
When unspecified health problems finally stopped her decades of touring, Page wrote a sad-but-resolute letter to her fans late last year, according to her AP obituary.
“Although I feel I still have the voice God gave me, physical impairments are preventing me from using that voice as I had for so many years,” Page wrote. “It is only He who knows what the future holds.”
“Flipside: The Patti Page Story,” a musical developed and written by University of Central Oklahoma faculty member Greg White, premiered in April 2011 at UCO. According to The Oklahoman Fine Arts Editor Rick Rogers, “Flipside” then was entered in the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival where it won several honors, including best musical. Last month, an off-Broadway run was staged at New York’s 59E59 Theater.
As previously reported, The Recording Academy announced last month that Page, along with Glenn Gould, Charlie Haden, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Carole King, the Temptations and the recently deceased Ravi Shankar, had been selected as a Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. She was looking forward to attending the invitation-only ceremony, part of the Grammy festivities, on Feb. 9, according to Hageman’s news release.
In her later career, Page and husband Jerry Filiciotto spent half the year living in Southern California and half in an 1830s farmhouse in New Hampshire. He died in 2009, according to the AP.
Page is survived by her son, Daniel O’Curran; daughter, Kathleen Ginn; and sister, Peggy Layton. No funeral arrangements have been made at this time, according to Hageman.
Our thoughts are with her family, friends and fans.