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Gogi Grant, renowned for her recording of the ballad “The Wayward Wind,” a No. 1 hit in 1956, died Thursday, her family announced. She was 91.
Grant also dubbed for actress Ann Blyth (also a talented vocalist) to perform Helen Morgan’s songs in a 1957 biopic about the famed torch singer, and she portrayed a recording artist in The Big Beat (1958), a movie that also featured Fats Domino, The Del-Vikings, The Diamonds, The Mills Brothers and Harry James.
Regarding Warner Bros.’ The Helen Morgan Story, “I wasn’t asked to listen to Helen’s old records,” Grant said in a 1957 interview. “The studio didn’t even suggest I change my style of singing. They just said, ‘Sing like you sing, sing each song the way you feel it.’ ”
Her version of “The Wayward Wind,” written by Stanley Lebowski and Herb Newman, ended Elvis Presley’s eight-week run with “Heartbreak Hotel” at No. 1 on the Billboard charts. Grant’s tune remained in the top spot for six weeks and sold more than a million copies, and Billboard voted her the year’s most popular female vocalist.
“The Wayward Wind” was performed by many other acts over the years, including Tex Ritter, Patsy Cline, Sylvia and The Beatles.
Grant recorded more than a dozen albums, and her other hits included “Suddenly There’s a Valley,” “The One I Love Belongs to Somebody Else,” “When the Tide Is High,” “Who Are We,” “You’re In Love” and “The Sea.” She also appeared on such variety shows at The Ed Sullivan Show and The Nat King Cole Show.
Born Myrtle Audrey Arinsberg in Philadelphia on Sept. 20, 1924, she and her family moved to California when she was 12. She attended Venice High School, won an amateur singing contest at a Hollywood nightclub and made appearances on TV talent shows.
In the early 1950s, she recorded as Audrey Brown, and then Audrey Grant, before RCA-Victor Records producer Dave Kapp renamed her Gogi. She thought it sounded “frilly and nonsensical,” she once recalled.
Grant took a two-decade hiatus from show business to raise a family but returned to singing in 1987 and performed into her late 80s.
Survivors include her daughter Jeri, son Joshua and granddaughters Tina and Dalia.
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