Monday, March 14, 2016

Singer Gogi Grant Passes On

Gogi Grant, the singer best known for the 1956 hit "The Wayward Wind", died on March 2016 at the age of 91.

Gogi Grant was born Myrtle Audrey Arinsberg in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She was twelve when her family moved to Los Angeles. She attended Venice High School. In the early fifties she worked as a saleswoman for a car lot. It was in 1952 that she began recording under the name "Audrey Brown". She eventually switched to the name "Audrey Grant". It was record producer Dave Kapp who gave her the name "Gogi".

It was in 1955 that Gogi Grant signed with Era Records. That same year she had her first hit, "Suddenly There's a Valley". It peaked at no. 9 on the Billboard singles chart. Her next single, "Who Are We", released the following year, did not do nearly as well. It only went to no. 62. It would be her third single that would be her biggest hit. Released in 1956, "The Wayward Wind" went to no. 1 on the Billboard Hot 100, knocking Elvis Presley's "Heartbreak Hotel" to do so. It remained at the top for eight weeks. It also went to no. 9 in the United Kingdom.

Sadly, Gogi Grant would have no more hits as big as "The Wayward Wind". Her follow up to "The Wayward Wind", "You're in Love", only reached  no. 69 on the Billboard singles chart. "Strange Are the Ways of Love", released in 1958, only reached no. 80. Despite this Gogi Grant remained a popular guest on TV shows. She made her television debut on Texaco Star Theatre in 1955. She went on to appear on such variety shows as The Paul Winchell and Jerry Mahoney Show, The Steve Allen Plymouth Show, The Nat King Cole Show, The Big Record, The George Gobel Show, and The Dinah Shore Chevy Show.  She performed at the 32nd Annual Academy Awards.

In the Fifties Gogi Grant also did some work in film. She appeared as herself in the short "Golden Ladder". She provided Ann Blyth's singing voice in The Helen Morgan Story. She appeared in the film The Big Beat (1958).  She guest starred on an episode of Dan Raven in 1960.

In the late Fifties Gogi Grant recorded several albums, including Suddenly There's Gogi Grant (1957), Welcome To My Heart (1958), Torch Time (1958), Granted it's Gogi (1959), and If You Want To Get To Heaven, Shout (1960).

Sadly, as the grip of rock 'n' roll on the charts grew even firmer in the Sixties, particularly after the British Invasion, Gogi Grant's career went into decline. She appeared on The Lloyd Bridges Show and The Linkletter Show. She also performed at the 34th Annual Academy Awards. She had one final, moderate hit, "The Sea", in 1967. It went entered the top twenty on Billboard's Easy Listening chart. She then retired in 1967 to raise a family.

Gogi Grant returned to performing in 1987 and continued to perform well into her 80s. She appeared in the film short "Have a Nice Day" (1996) and performed "The Wayward Wind" on the PBS special Magic Moments: The Best of 50's Pop in 2004.

While Gogi Grant did not see the phenomenal success of many singers, she was a gifted performer. She was quite pretty and, more importantly, she possessed a warm and rich voice suited to a variety of styles of songs. It seems likely that much of the success of "The Wayward Wind" was not simply due to the song itself, but the loveliness of the voice singing it. It seems possible that had Gogi Grant emerged well before the advent of rock 'n' roll (which took over the charts starting in the mid-Fifties), she might well have seen much more success. As it is, she will still be remembered as one of the best female singers to emerge in the Fifties.

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