The singin’ rage – Patti Page

Published 10:52 am Thursday, July 28, 2016

Like most disc jockeys in the 1950s, I introduced most Patti Page recordings with, “here’s the singin’ rage, Patti Page.” Like Pavlov’s pups, we reacted automatically. We’d see her name on the Mercury label and out that phrase would come.

The well-worn phrase was coined by a copywriter who earned his shekels with that one.

Back in 1991, Page performed at Chrysler Hall in Norfolk, VA., and the Pavilion Convention Center in Virginia Beach – both with the Virginia Symphony Pops Orchestra. She proved that age does not necessarily hurt a voice. In fact, her sweet voice sounded even sweeter than when we first crossed paths, many years earlier.

Before she went onstage at the Pavilion, I spent some time in her dresssing room, reliving the enjoyment we had at get-togethers for DJs she held in 1954.

She was – in both eras – a lady of great charm, one of the reasons, besides her obvious talent, for her longevity in the fickle music business.

Page enjoyed talking about her career and the people she had known – Crosby, Sinatra, and Hope to mention an impressive few. In the ‘90s she recalled playing the prestigious Paramount Theater in New York City (where I saw her in my kid days). We recalled one show there when she was coupled with Frankie Laine.

In the ‘50s I was working in Rome, NY doing a morning show on WKAL. Those were my Page play days. A few miles away, in Utica, a guy named Dick Clark was also spinning records. (One thing we had in common was a dislike for a certain area entertainer).

Page’s previous visit to Hampton Roads was in the ‘70s at the Cavalier Hotel in Virginia Beach. Before our ‘re-meet’ in the ‘90s, the last time I had the opportunity to meet her was in 1955, somewhere on the Jersey shore.

When she was setting the charts afire, she would have picnics for DJs in the New York-New Jersey area, wonderful daylong affairs that gave us the opportunity not only to meet her, but other music stars of those days.

I don’t remember everybody who picnicked with us, (upper New York State deejays) but I do recall The Crew Cuts, who had a big hit with “Sh-Boom.” And, Mitch Miller of ‘Sing-Along’ fame was also there – all very nice people.

I still have some of the picnic pics, which feature, among other things, fellow deejays from the general area. And, I have a pic of Patti posing prettily.

Some of the pictures appeared in Hit Parader Magazine, a very popular mag that printed the words to pop songs, along with stories of the stars. In a later edition, I wrote a column about my deejay efforts. I saved a copy of that magazine for many years, until the year it took a swim in my flooded basement.

My ‘90s visit with Miss P led me to recall a somewhat similar gathering sponsored by another famous singer – Perry Como, in a San Antonio restaurant, another gathering place for deejays.

The singer was as laid back and friendly as he always appeared on TV. At this time I was working at KWBU in Corpus Christi (at the time, the strongest AM station in the U. S.). About 95 percent of the jocks showed up in suit and tie. I had the Corpus casual look, including a semi-loud sport shirt.

At the restaurant, another Corpus deejay and I looked out of place. That soon changed. Como came wandering in, also dressed casually.

Later, when all of us had the opportunity to visit him one-on-one we complimented one another on our good, common sense.

When you meet people like Como and Page, you leave whistling a tune, or singing an unforgettable lyric. The scene was so very different than today’s music scene – if you can call some of it music.

“I was dancing with my darling to the “Tennessee Waltz…”

God in Heaven – how I miss those days.


Frank Roberts, who is 87, spent 60 years writing and talking. He and his wife, Valeria, have three children, five grandchildren, and three great-granddaughters. He loves to write.