RIP ‘Tennessee Waltz’ Singer Patti Page

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Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Kevin Winter/Getty Images

“The Tennessee Waltz” has finally come to an end. Patti Page, who turned that song into a monster pop hit in 1950, died on Jan. 1, 2013 at age 85.

Though she wasn’t terribly familiar to contemporary music fans, Page had been a staple of the easy listening and adult contemporary pop worlds since she started recording in the 1940s.

She had hits early on with songs such as “Confess” “With My Eyes Wide Open, I’m Dreaming.” But it was “Tennessee Waltz” that turned into the smash–and became not only her signature song, but one of the best-selling songs of the 20th century.

“Tennessee Waltz” was already a hit song by 1950–country bandleader Pee Wee King and Redd Stewart had written and recorded it a few years earlier (it was Pee Wee’s signature song, too). So if you hear hints of country in Patti’s version, that’s no accident.

The song went on to be covered by numerous artists across genres, including Otis Redding, Patsy Cline, Norah Jones, Leonard Cohen, and Punch Brothers founder Chris Thile.

When Patti Page appeared on The Johnny Cash Show, the Man in Black called the song “one of the prettiest songs heard anywhere.”

Page’s career didn’t slow down after the success of “Tennessee Waltz.” She went on to earn many more hit songs, including “Detour,” “Come What May,” “(How Much Is That) Doggie In the Window,” and “Hush…Hush, Sweet Charlotte.” She even had her own TV show in the 1950s.

Though she was best known as a pop singer, Page was a country fan and also recorded country music throughout her career. In fact, her last charting single was the 1982 country song “My Man Friday.”

Page continued to perform some 50 shows a year up until her death. A previous recipient of the Academy of Country Music’s Cliffie Stone Pioneer Award (in 1979), Page was set to appear this coming Feb. 9 in Los Angeles to receive a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award from the Recording Academy.

- Kurt Wolff, CBS Local

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