Laura Branigan died aged fifty-two on 26th August 2004 from a ventricular brain aneurysm at her lodge in East Quogue, New York, U.S.A. and her ashes were scattered over Long Island Sound, the tidal estuary running between New York's Long Island and Connecticut. It was reported by the media that she had been experiencing headaches for several weeks before dying, but did not seek medical attention.
Laura Ann Branigan was born on 3rd July 1952 in the village of Brewster, New York, U.S.A., the fourth of five children of Kathleen and James Branigan, who later separated.
Laura attended Byram Hills High School from 1966 to 1970, starring in the high school musical, The Pajama Game, in her senior year. Later, she attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York City between 1970 and 1972. In 1972 she participated in forming the folk-rock band Meadow who released their debut album 'The Friend Ship' featuring the singles 'When You Were Young', and 'Cane and Able'. After fellow member Walker Daniels committed suicide the band broke up and Laura preferred not to discuss her involvement with Meadow publicly.
During the years after Meadow disbanded, Laura Branigan had various jobs, including a stint as one of Leonard Cohen's backup singers for his European tour in April–August 1976.
In December 1978 after meeting him at a party in Manhattan, New York earlier in the year, Laura Branigan married Larry Ross Kruteck, a lawyer sixteen years her senior, who died of colon cancer in 1996.
In 1979, Laura Branigan was signed to Atlantic Records. The strength and range of her voice actually impeded her career for several years while the label went through the process of categorizing her as a pop singer, and her 1981 single "Looking Out for Number One", from her unreleased album Silver Dreams, made a brief appearance on the U.S. dance chart, reaching number 60. Two other early Atlantic singles, "Tell Him" and "Fool's Affair", followed. None of these three singles were included on her first album, but all four songs were eventually released on CD over thirty years later in 2014 as bonus cuts on an American CD reissue of her first album.
Laura Branigan's nine-track debut album, 'Branigan', was released in March 1982. The first single from the album was "All Night with Me", which reached number 69 on the Billboard charts in early 1982. The album alternated four energetic up-tempo songs with five ballads, including one of the few songs written solely by Laura Branigan, "I Wish We Could Be Alone". "Gloria", an Italian love song , was released as the album's second single.
Laura Branigan's performance of "Gloria" was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Female Pop Vocal Performance alongside Linda Ronstadt, Olivia Newton-John, Juice Newton and that year's winner, Melissa Manchester, becoming her only solo nomination.
In the spring of 1983 Laura Branigan released her second album 'Laura Branigan 2'. Laura's vocals propelled her English-language version of the French song Solitaire toward the top of the U.S. charts.
During the height of her career, Laura Branigan also made acting appearances, first in 1981 in 'An American Girl in Berlin' for West German television, and then after the success of "Gloria", guest appearances on a few American television series. She later appeared in independent films including 'Mugsy's Girls' with Academy Awards winner Ruth Gordon, and the Australian film Backstage. She sang on major national television and radio campaigns for products including Dr Pepper, Coca-Cola and Chrysler, which sponsored her 1985–1986 "Hold Me" tour.
In 1984 "Self Control", the title track of Laura Branigan's third album, became her biggest hit internationally, topping the charts in over six countries, most notably West Germany, where it spent six weeks at number one. The song was featured on episode eight of the first season of the TV series Miami Vice which aired on 16th November 1984.
Other pop, disco, and adult contemporary hits from Laura Branigan's Self Control album include "The Lucky One", which won her a Tokyo Music Festival prize, the continental ballad "Ti Amo" and the dance hit "Satisfaction". The album also featured a version of Carole King's "Will You Still Love Me Tomorrow"; as a counterpoint to all the dance productions, it was a bare-bones piano version. In concerts and television appearances throughout her career, Laura Branigan accompanied herself on the piano for that song.
In 1984 Laura Branigan's live show was recorded twice, for a syndicated radio concert series and a concert video. Laura Branigan was also nominated for an award at the American Music Awards of 1985 for favorite pop/rock female video artist, won by Cyndi Lauper. Also in 1985 Laura Branigan performed the main theme song for the television mini-series Hollywood Wives, based on the novel by Jackie Collins.
By the time Laura Branigan's fourth album Hold Me was released in July 1985, "Self Control" was a worldwide success. The hits continued with "Spanish Eddie", which was her sixth U.S. Billboard top 40 pop hit in two and a half years. The subsequent single release "Hold Me" was a U.S. top-40 dance hit, and Laura's introduction of the rock ballad "I Found Someone" (co-written by Michael Bolton, a later hit for Cher) scored even higher on the adult contemporary chart. However, neither song was supported by a music video and stalled at the low end of the hot 100 chart. On 13th June 1985 Laura made her fourth appearance on legendary TV music show American Bandstand, performing "Spanish Eddie" and "Hold Me". On 4th July 1985 she performed in Point State Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, U.S.A.
Laura Branigan's fifth album Touch, released in July 1987, marked a change in her career. Under new management and using different producers, Laura took a more active role in her work and in the studio, seeing her return to dance floors with the Stock-Aitken-Waterman-produced track "Shattered Glass" written by Bob Mitchell and Steve Coe, of the band Monsoon. "Shattered Glass" was performed by Laura on the last episode of American Bandstand (hosted by Dick Clark) to be broadcast on ABC in September 1987, becoming their last guest performer. The album also included a return to the Billboard top-40 with her cover of Jennifer Rush's "Power of Love", which was one of the 20 bestselling singles in the U.S. during the Christmas season. The album's third single "Cry Wolf", a top-30 AC hit, did not capture the attention of pop radio stations and stalled.
Laura Branigan's sixth album brought her back to the Hi-NRG charts and gay clubs with "Moonlight On Water", and she scored a top-30 adult contemporary hit with "Never in a Million Years." Laura added production to her list of credits with her cover of Vicki Sue Robinson's disco-era "Turn the Beat Around" and the atmospheric "Let Me In," a cover of an Eddie Money song. The album also includes '"Unison," which was the title track for Céline Dion's English debut CD in the same year. The album's closing track, a cover of Bryan Adams' "The Best Was Yet to Come," was produced and arranged by Laura. The 1990–1991 Laura Branigan Tour, which was kicked off with an appearance on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson in July 1990 was followed by a performance in the Trump Regency Showroom in Atlantic City, New Jersey, U.S.A. on 14th July and filmed for a syndicated U.S. television show SRO in Concert, which was released on video-cassette and laserdisc; in July 1990 she performed at the Warwick Musical Theatre in Rhode Island.
On Laura Branigan's seventh and final studio album 'Over My Heart', released during August of 1993, Laura again produced, and wrote and arranged. It included "Didn't We Almost Win It All".
After 1990 Laura Branigan's chart success cooled in the U.S., though she was still in demand around the world and went on several global tours. In 1994, not long after the release of 'Over My Heart', Larry Kruteck, Lauras husband, was diagnosed with colon cancer. Laura refused to accept the medical prognosis, and left the music industry to devote her attention to him. Laura put Kruteck on herbal treatments, eventually nursing him full time. Kruteck survived for another two and a half years before dying.
Laura Branigan had official greatest hits collections released in South America, Japan, Germany, South Africa, and the U.S.; the U.S. collection was released in 1995. The 13-track The Best of Laura Branigan included two newly-recorded covers: "Show Me Heaven" (written by Maria McKee) and the Donna Summer hit "Dim All the Lights," which Laura Branigan released in several remixes.
On 15th August 1995, Laura Branigan was a guest on the TV show Talking Food, hosted by Robin Leach and broadcast by the Food Network, and she promoted the album and sang the Donna Summer hit before preparing her Summer Delight pasta dish on the show.
In February 1996, she was selected to be part of the international jury at the XXXVII Festival Internacional de la Canción de Viña del Mar, in Chile. Besides her duties as a jury member of this international musical competition, Laura performed on Friday the 16th on the main stage for an audience who enthusiastically sang her greatest hits.
In early 2001 Laura Branigan's return to the stage was postponed, when she broke both of her femurs in a three metre fall from a ladder while she was hanging wisteria outside her three-bedroom lakeside home in Westchester County, New York, resulting in physical therapy for six months. In 2002, she performed twice as the "singing" Janis Joplin in the off-Broadway musical 'Love, Janis', before dropping out of the show. Pennsylvania. In later years she continued to record and in 2002, her second official US hits collection, 'The Essentials', was released.
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