Born Clara Ann Fowler on November 8, 1927, in Claremore, Oklahoma, as one of eleven children of a railroad foreman and a mother who picked cotton to help support the family, Patti Page started singing professionally in her teens at Tulsa radio station KTUL. After the primary singer got laryngitis, Patti stepped in and won the job. She also decided to take her stage name after one of the program's sponsors, the Page Milk Company.
By 1948 she released her first hit, "Confess," also notable because it was the first song to use overdubbing on a vocal, which Page did herself to make the song sound like a vocal group. The song is a benchmark for studio technology, and she followed it in 1949 by releasing "With My Eyes Wide Open I'm Dreaming," which garnered her the first of eighteen gold records. In 1950 she recorded "Tennessee Waltz," the largest-selling single in country music history, which signaled the upcoming pop crossover strategy of the Nashville Sound, still an industry practice. Other hits followed, including "The Doggie in the Window" (1953) and "Old Cape Cod" (1957).
She has also appeared in several motion pictures, including Elmer Gantry (1960) and Boys' Night Out (1962, with fellow Oklahomans James Garner and Tony Randall). Page has released more than 100 albums and has more than 100 million record sales to date, making her the all-time best-selling female vocalist in American popular music history.
BIBLIOGRAPHY: Colin Larkin, The Guinness Encyclopedia of Popular Music, Vol. 4 (New York: Stockton Press, 1995). Norm N. Nite, Rock On: The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Rock and Roll, Vol. 1 (New York: Harper and Row, 1982).
Hugh W. Foley, Jr.
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