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Patti Page: A vocalist with enduring appeal (+video)

Patti Page had many big hits, but the biggest was 'Tennessee Waltz,' which made Patti Page the best-selling singer of the 1950s. Patti Page had a career that spanned decades and multiple genres, including country, pop, and R&B.

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A year later she signed a contract with Mercury Records and began appearing in nightclubs in the Chicago area.

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Her first major hit was "With My Eyes Wide Open I'm Dreaming," but she got noticed a few years earlier in 1947 with "Confess."

She created a distinctive sound for the music industry on that song by overdubbing her own voice when she didn't have enough money to hire backup singers for the single.

"We would have to pay for all those expenses because Mercury felt that I had not as yet received any national recognition that would merit Mercury paying for it," Page once said.

"Confess" was enough of a hit that Rael persuaded Mercury to let Page try full four-part harmony by overdubbing. The result was "With My Eyes Wide Open I'm Dreaming." The label read, "Vocals by Patti Page, Patti Page, Patti Page and Patti Page."

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

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

Page and Rael got hold of "Tennessee Waltz," convinced that a pop artist could make a smash hit out of it. Mercury agreed to put it 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 on 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.

She received the Pioneer Award from the Academy of Country Music in 1980. She also is a member of the Oklahoma Jazz Hall of Fame.

In her later career, Page and husband Jerry Filiciotto spent half the year living in Southern California and half in an 1830s farmhouse in New Hampshire. He died in 2009.

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

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.

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