Patti Page: Tennessee Waltz Singer Dies Aged 85

Patti Page, the top-selling female singer of the 1950s who became famous for her version of Tennessee Waltz, has died aged 85.

Her publicist Schatzi Hageman said she died on New Year's Day in Encinitas, California.

Page created a distinctive sound for the music industry in 1947 by overdubbing her own voice when she didn't have enough money to hire backup singers for the single, Confess.

She went on to receive 15 gold records and three gold albums with 24 songs in the top 10, including four that reached number one.

She was due to attend a special ceremony on February 9 in Los Angeles where she was to receive a lifetime achievement Grammy Award from The Recording Academy.

Page was popular in pop music and country and became the first singer to have television programmes on all three major US networks, including The Patti Page Show on ABC.

"I was a kid from Oklahoma who never wanted to be a singer, but was told I could sing," she said in a 1999 interview. "And things snowballed."

She was signed to Mercury Records and went on to sell more than 100 million records.

In 1999, after 51 years of performing, Page won her first Grammy for traditional pop vocal performance for Live at Carnegie Hall - The 50th Anniversary Concert.

Tennessee Waltz, her biggest selling record, was a fluke.

Because Christmas was approaching, Mercury wanted Page to record Boogie Woogie Santa Claus in 1950.

Tennessee Waltz was put on the B-side of the Christmas song.

"Mercury wanted to concentrate on a Christmas song and they didn't want anything with much merit on the flip side," Page said. "They didn't want any disc jockeys to turn the Christmas record over. The title of that great Christmas song was Boogie Woogie Santa Claus, and no one ever heard of it."

Tennessee Waltz became the first pop tune that crossed over into a big country hit.

The waltz was in the charts for 30 weeks, 12 of them in the top 10, and eventually sold more than 10 million copies, behind only White Christmas by Bing Crosby at the time.

Page's other hits included (How Much Is That) Doggie In The Window and Mockin' Bird Hill.

Page is survived by her son, Daniel O'Curran, daughter Kathleen Ginn and sister Peggy Layton.

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