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Tuesday, August 26, 2014

August 26, 2004

Hello, everyone!  It's time for another edition of the Tuesday Timeline, and today's subject has to do with music.  But here's the thing.  You might not know the name of the person of which I will be doing the spotlight on.  But by the end of the timeline, you'll know all about them...including the moment in which their life was tragically cut short.

But before we go ahead with today's feature presentation, we have some previews to watch beforehand.  So, what happened on August 26?  Have a look.

1498 - Michelangelo Buonarroti is commissioned to carve the Pieta

1748 - The first Lutheran denomination in North America is founded in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

1768 - Captain James Cook sets sail from England on board the HMS Endeavour

1789 - The Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen is approved by the National Constituent Assembly of France

1791 - John Fitch is granted a United States patent for the steamboat

1883 - The eruption of Mount Krakatoa begins its final stage

1910 - Missionary and Nobel Prize laureate Mother Teresa (d. 1997) is born

1914 - The German colony of Togoland is invaded by French and British forces

1920 - Women are given the right to vote following the passage of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution

1952 - Actor Michael Jeter (d. 2003) is born in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee

1966 - The Namibian War of Independence begins

1970 - Betty Friedan leads a new feminist movement, leading to a nation-wide Women's Strike for Equality

1977 - The Charter of the French Language is adopted by the National Assembly of Quebec

1978 - Pope John Paul I is elected to the papacy

1980 - John Birges plants and detonates a bomb at Harvey's Resort Hotel in Stateline, Nevada

1986 - Actor Ted Knight passes away at the age of 62

1997 - As many as one hundred people are killed in Algeria's Beni-Ali massacre

2009 - American journalist Dominick Dunne passes away at the age of 83

2011 - The Boeing 787 Dreamliner receives certification from both the EASA and FAA

So, that wraps up the event portion of the Tuesday Timeline.  Let's move on with celebrity birthdays.  A very happy birthday to the following people; Jane Merrow, Vic Dana, Stephen Greif, Maureen Tucker, Alan Parker, Valerie Simpson, Mark Snow, Will Shortz, Steve Wright, Brett Cullen, Rick Hansen, Wanda De Jesus, Branford Marsalis, Ola Ray, Allegra Huston, Jon Hensley, Shirley Manson, Christopher Douglas, Elaine Irwin, Melissa McCarthy, Thalia, Meredith Eaton, Macaulay Culkin, Chris Pine, Cassie Ventura, Dylan O'Brien, Hayley Hasselhoff, and Keke Palmer.

All right.  So, what day will we be going back in time to this week? 

Well, we're only going back a decade.  August 26, 2004 to be exact.

Sadly, in the world of music, this date ended up being the last day of this singer's life.

Prior to her passing, she had undergone severe headaches for a period of weeks, but never sought medical attention for them believing that they would simply go away on their own.  Sadly, the headaches were a warning sign that something very serious was going on, and before she realized it, she was gone - dead of a cerebral aneurysm at just 52 years of age.

But you those 52 years of life, she crammed a whole lot of her natural singing ability and her catchy pop songs can still be heard on the radio today, ten years after her passing.

This is the story of the late Laura Branigan - who passed away ten years ago today.

If Laura Branigan had lived, she would be 62 years old.  Born on July 3, 1952 in the small community of Brewster, New York, she discovered that she had a love for music while she was a student at Byram Hills High School in Armonk, New York.  In 1973, she was in a band called "Meadow", and the group even recorded an entire album entitled "The Friend Ship".  The record was never released, but it did prove one thing.  Laura Branigan had major talent, though it wouldn't really be until a decade later before people began to realize it.

Even though her work with Meadow didn't really amount to much (the band split up shortly after recording the material for their album), it encouraged Branigan to continue with the music industry.  She even worked as a back-up singer for Leonard Cohen while he was on tour in Europe!

But for Laura, the year in which she would begin her own solo career was in the year 1979.  That was the year in which people were getting sickened of disco music and were looking for something a little bit different.  She was signed to Atlantic Records that year, and to say that she waited patiently to get her work out is an understatement.  Because Laura's singing voice was unlike any voice that was heard at that time, it took Atlantic about two years before they could figure out what genre of music to place her in.  I suppose that makes some sense.  The period between 1979 and 1981 was quite unstable in the world of music, with disco dying and New Wave rising out of the ashes. 

Finally, the decision was made to have Laura Branigan added to Atlantic Records' pop music roster, and in 1982, she began working on her debut album, "Branigan".  She had her first taste of success when her first single "Looking Out For Number One" made a brief appearance on the Billboard Dance Music Charts, and she enjoyed her first appearance on the Billboard Hot 100 when her first single from her debut album, "All Night With Me" peaked at #69.  It was a modest start.

Little did Laura know that her decision to record a song that had previously been recorded by Italian pop/rock singer Umberto Tozzi in 1979 would become her signature hit.  Would you like to hear it?  Allow me.

ARTIST:  Laura Branigan
SONG:  Gloria
ALBUM:  Branigan
DATE RELEASED:  June 18, 1982

Yes, "Gloria" will probably never be known for its rather simplistic music video, nor will it ever be known as a Billboard Hot 100 #1 hit.  But what if I told you that at the time, it was the longest charting single by a female artist?  It stayed on the Billboard Hot 100 charts for a then record-breaking 36 weeks - 22 of which were on the Top 40. 

And, although "Gloria" never quite made it to the top of the Billboard Charts, it did hit #1 in Australia and Canada, and reached the Top 10 in the UK, Ireland, South Africa, and New Zealand.  It even charted in Italy's Top 40.

A true international hit, that "Gloria" was.  Reportedly, "Gloria" became such a huge smash that fans began calling Laura Branigan by the name of Gloria whenever they saw her on the street!

And that was just the tip of the iceberg.

"Gloria" helped earn Laura Branigan a Grammy Award nomination for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance, and she was up against some really stiff competition.  The other nominees were Melissa Manchester, Olivia Newton-John, Juice Newton, and Linda Ronstadt.  Though she ended up losing to Manchester's "You Should Hear How She Talks About You", this was not the end for Branigan.  After all, she had other hits along the way.  How about 1983's "Solitaire"?

Or, from the same year, this single which became a huge hit for Michael Bolton in 1988?  Branigan's version was a Top 20 smash.

And, then there was this synth-pop classic from 1984 - a hit that peaked at #4 on the Billboard charts, and became another radio friendly hit for the young singer.

I definitely remember hearing "Self Control" a lot when I was a kid.  The radio station that I listened to when I was a kid (PAC 93) certainly seemed to like playing this song a lot!

Over the years, Laura Branigan changed her style of music.  One year, she was issuing powerful rock songs, and the next, she was teaming up with Stock/Aitken/Waterman to add a taste of Europop to her powerful vocals.  She even made guest appearances on CHiPs and Knight Rider, and even contributed a song to the Baywatch soundtrack by singing a duet with David Hasselhoff!

Don't believe me?  Here it is!

Oh, and here's some trivia about Laura Branigan that I never knew until now!  In Canada, one of Celine Dion's very first English language hits was recorded back in the early 1990s.  It was a track called "Unison", and I have to admit, it is one of the few Celine Dion songs that I actually enjoy listening to.

But here's something that blew my mind.  Laura Branigan recorded it first!  Here's her version below.

Now, Laura Branigan continued recording albums for a little while, with her last studio album being released in August 1993.  But shortly after that release, her husband - Larry Kruteck - was diagnosed with colon cancer, and Branigan left the industry in order to take care of him.  He died in June 1996.  Branigan never remarried.

However, as the 1990s ended, and the 2000s began, Branigan was very much looking forward to making a return to music.  Rather than release another album though, she focused more on performing on the stage.  Unfortunately, there were a couple of incidents that really prevented her from making much of an impact on stage.  A fall in 2001 broke both of Laura's femurs which postponed her return to the stage, and she had to drop out of the Broadway production of "Love, Janis" after two performances because producers didn't file with Equity using the proper procedures...however, Laura saw this as a blessing in disguise, as she was supposed to provide the singing voice for the actress who would be portraying the late Janis Joplin, and she didn't think that she could do it.

At the time of her death in August 2004, Branigan was on her way to attempting a comeback in music recording.  She had re-released dance mixes of "Self Control" and "Gloria", and word was that she was ready to consider making her first studio album in eleven years.  Sadly, she never got the chance.

Her body was cremated and her ashes scattered over Long Island Sound, and since 2005, an annual event held in her memory called the "Spirit of Love Memorial Gathering" is held.  There is even a scholarship given in her name at her old high school, given to a senior for excellence in Performing Arts.

But of course, the greatest legacy that Laura Branigan can give us is the seven albums and many, many singles that she gave us to listen to whenever we want.  I think that will be the ultimate memorial to a singer who left us far too soon.


  1. As a huge LB-fan I must take your notice. Laura Branigan was born 3 July 1952, not 1957 as many think. There are many web-pages which says the same. It is also written on her hometown Arkmons Facebook page.. Laura Branigan (1952–2004), Grammy-nominated musician, grew up in Armonk and was a Byram Hills HS graduate (1970)

    1. Yeah, I'll be the first one to admit that I did see both dates listed and got confused. That said, I did go with the 1957 date because at the time I had seen it on more sources. But I can easily fix it.

    2. Thank you and greetings from Sweden

  2. Laura attended Byram Hills HS 1966-1970. Would she really begin at 9 and graduate from high school at age of 13? It is really sad that people has joined the 1957 theory, and never made any researches to found out the truth. Check this wiki link, long but interesting......

  3. Check the link...$T2eC16ZHJHIE9nyseyvCBRBytKFpwQ~~60_57.JPG

  4. IMDb has updated Laura's birth year from 1957 to 1952.

  5. Latest news about Laura is about her birth place. Through the years it has been said Brewster in Putnam County, but it is wrong. A message from Laura's brother Billy says both Billy and Laura were born in Mount Kisco, Northern Westchester Hospital (NWH), 1952 and 1957.
    You can find more at my new Pinterest site where I have collected my Laura research since 2014. Mount Kisco was the very last brick and now my journey is over. Please, take a tour...

  6. I was a modest admirer until I fell in love with her song If You Loved Me. I first heard it about a month ago (September 2016). Now I'm a big fan anda learning more about her and her music.

  7. I was a modest admirer until I fell in love with her song If You Loved Me. I first heard it about a month ago (September 2016). Now I'm a big fan anda learning more about her and her music.

  8. I was a modest admirer until I fell in love with her song If You Loved Me. I first heard it about a month ago (September 2016). Now I'm a big fan anda learning more about her and her music.

  9. I was a modest admirer until I fell in love with her song If You Loved Me. I first heard it about a month ago (September 2016). Now I'm a big fan anda learning more about her and her music.

  10. If you could delete Brewster and replace it with Mount Kisco, I would very much have this wonderful story in my research. But Brewster destroys it. Can you changed it?
    My research can be found here and my chapter about 1952 here..