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‘Singing Rage’ of 1950s remembered

January 05, 2013

LONDON: With record ssales estimated at more than 100 million, which included more than a dozen million-selling singles, Patti Page, who has died aged 85, was one of America’s favourite popular singers of the 1950s. She was dubbed “the Singing Rage”, and her alto voice was often double tracked, on hits such as “Mockin’ Bird Hill”, “That Doggie in the Window” and, her signature song, “Tennessee Waltz”.

Page’s first big hit was “With My Eyes Wide Open, I’m Dreaming”, in 1950. In the same year, she recorded “Tennessee Waltz”. This had already been a great success in versions by its composer, the country singer Pee Wee King, and others, but Page’s recording, again with overdubs of her vocals, outsold them all. This inaugurated the period of her greatest popularity. More country songs were given the Page touch, such as “Mockin’ Bird Hill” and “Detour” — both bestsellers in 1951.

The 1953 novelty “That Doggie in the Window”, was Page’s only British hit, and faced strong competition from several other recordings, including one by Carole Carr, with children’s chorus and Rustler the dog, and a version by Lita Roza that reached No 1.

Page also specialised in songs about American places and landscapes, notably “Allegheny Moon”, which reached No 2 in the charts in 1956, and “Old Cape Cod”, a No 3 hit the following year. Her final top 10 hit of the decade was “Left Right Out of Your Heart” in 1958.

Among Page’s albums were Folk Song Favorites (1951) and Manhattan Tower (1956), a version of a Gordon Jenkins narrative tone poem produced by her musical director Vic Schoen.

By arrangement with the Guardian