Clara Ann Fowler (November 8, 1927 – January 1, 2013), known by her professional name Patti Page, was an American singer, one of the best-known female artists in traditional pop music. She was the best-selling female artist of the 1950s, and sold over 100 million records. Her nickname was The Singin’ Rage (a phrase commonly followed by “Miss Patti Page”).
Page signed with Mercury Records in 1947, and became their first successful female artist, starting with 1948’s “Confess”. In 1950, she had her first million-selling single “With My Eyes Wide Open, I’m Dreaming”, and would eventually have 14 additional million-selling singles between 1950 and 1965.
Page’s signature song, “Tennessee Waltz”, recorded in 1950, was one of the biggest-selling singles of the 20th century, and is also one of the two official state songs of Tennessee. “Tennessee Waltz” spent 13 weeks atop the Billboard magazine’s Best-Sellers List in 1950. Page had three additional No. 1 hit singles between 1950 and 1953, with “All My Love (Bolero)”, “I Went to
your Wedding “and “How much is that Doggie in
the window “.
Unlike most pop music singers, Page blended the styles of country music into many of her most popular songs. By doing this, many of Page’s singles also made the Billboard Country Chart. Towards the 1970s, Page shifted her career towards country music, and she began charting on the country charts, up until 1982. Page is one of the few vocalists who have made the country charts in five separate decades.
When rock and roll music became popular during the second half of the 1950s, traditional pop music was becoming less popular. Page was one of the few traditional pop music singers who was able to sustain her success, continuing to have major hits into the mid-1960s with “Old Cape Cod”, “Allegheny Moon”, “A Poor Man’s Roses (Or a Rich Man’s Gold)”, and “Hush, Hush, Sweet Charlotte”.
In 1997, Patti Page was inducted into the Oklahoma Music Hall of Fame. She will be posthumously honored with the Lifetime Achievement Grammy Award in 2013.
She was born Clara Ann Fowler on November 8, 1927, in Claremore, Oklahoma, (although some sources give Muskogee, Oklahoma). She was born into a large and poor family. Her father worked on the MKT railroad, while her mother and older sisters picked cotton. As she related on television many years later, the family went without electricity, and therefore she could not read after dark. She was raised in Hardy, Muskogee and Avant, Oklahoma, before attending Daniel Webster High School in Tulsa, from which she graduated in 1945.
Fowler became a featured singer on a 15-minute radio program on radio station KTUL, Tulsa, Oklahoma, at age 18. The program was sponsored by the “Page Milk Company.” On the air, Fowler was dubbed “Patti Page,” after the Page Milk Company. In 1946, Jack Rael, a saxophone player and band manager, came to Tulsa to do a one-night show. Rael heard Page on the radio and liked her voice. Rael asked her to join the band he managed, the “Jimmy Joy Band.” Rael would later become Page’s personal manager, after leaving the band.