Peggy Layton was planning to take a special trip with her sister to Los Angeles this weekend.
Instead, the Oklahoma City resident will accept the Lifetime Achievement Award on behalf of her older sibling, Patti Page, Saturday during Grammy Week festivities in L.A.
“I was hoping that she would be there. But she will be in spirit,” Layton said.
Page, 85, the Oklahoma-born and bred pop music icon known as “The Singing Rage,” died Jan. 1 in Encinitas, Calif. She had struggled with health problems in recent years.
Just three weeks before her death, The Recording Academy announced that the Claremore native would receive a 2013 Lifetime Achievement Award at a special invitation-only ceremony this Saturday. Page and the other honorees also will be acknowledged during the 55th Annual Grammy Awards telecast, airing from 7 to 10:30 p.m. Sunday on CBS.
Carole King, Glenn Gould, Charlie Haden, Lightnin' Hopkins, Ravi Shankar and the Temptations also will receive Grammy Lifetime Achievement Awards at Saturday's ceremony. Shankar, 92, a world-renowned sitar player, died the day before the awards were publicly announced in December.
“Patti was so excited, and she was planning on going,” Layton said with a sigh. “It's a shame. I just don't understand why they wait 'til they're so old to give the Lifetime Achievement Award. You know, she was in the business for 62 years or longer. Why can't they give it when they're younger? You know, not real young, because that wouldn't be a lifetime, but not when they're so old that they die or they're too old to go.”
Born Clara Ann Fowler on Nov. 8, 1927, Page was the top-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 spanned more than six decades, according to her Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame biography.
She notched 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.
“It brings tears to your eyes. At least it does mine. But I'm prejudiced,” Layton said of her sister's famed rendition of “Tennessee Waltz.” “She was a great person, and she had the clearest voice of anyone. She didn't know music. She never had a music lesson in her life. God just gave her a voice, and she took it.
“There'll never be another ‘Singing Rage Miss Patti Page.'”
Growing up in Tulsa, Layton was the youngest of 11 children. Page was next-to-youngest of the eight girls and three boys.
“She was a bouncy girl. I mean, she never met a stranger. Yet when she became a star ... she was a very private person. She didn't go out after a concert and carouse around or anything like that. She would always sign autographs and then she would always go to her room or go out and have dinner with just her friends,” said Layton, 83, in a phone interview from the Oklahoma City independent living center she now calls home.
“I guess maybe that's one reason that the people under 40 years old don't even know the name Patti Page.”
When she was 16, the future Patti Page got her stage name while working at radio station KTUL, which had a 15-minute program sponsored by Page Milk Co. When the previous Patti Page singer left, Clara Ann Fowler accepted an invitation to audition and got the job.
In 1946, Jack Rael, a band leader who was making a stop in Tulsa, heard Page sing on the radio. Rael called KTUL, asked where he could hear her live and headed over the Petroleum Club to catch her performance. He gave up his own music career to become her manager.
“When she left, she took the name — she got it legally — and so she was called Patti Page. And she was gone,” Layton said. “But she was always the same. Just Patti. She was always giving.”
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 received stars on 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.”
“She was the best public relations person for the state of Oklahoma there ever was,” said Tim Akers, Page's great-nephew and the family's historian. “She loved the state, and in fact, in every one of her shows, there was always a reference to Oklahoma.”
In her later career, Page and husband Jerry Filiciotto spent half the year living in Southern California and half in New Hampshire. He died in 2009.
Page is survived by her son, Daniel O'Curran; daughter, Kathleen Ginn; and numerous grandchildren, including two teenage granddaughters she raised. Layton, who will be traveling with her own granddaughter Emily Layton, 21, said she and O'Curran will accept the Lifetime Achievement Award Saturday on her sister's behalf.
“It'll be an emotional experience. I don't know what I'm gonna say. I'm not gonna write it down. I think I'm just gonna shoot from the hip,” Layton said. “I think maybe I'll just talk about my sister.”
Contributing: The Associated Press.