'Rawhide' Theme Singer Dies

The singer Frankie Lane, famous for his rendition of the TV theme "Rawhide," has died at the age of 93.

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MADELEINE BRAND, host:

This is DAY TO DAY from NPR News. I'm Madeleine Brand.

ALEX CHADWICK, host:

I'm Alex Chadwick.

A big voice and a no-holds-barred performance style - two things that defined singer Frankie Lane.

(Soundbite of song, "Rawhide")

Mr. FRANKIE LANE (Singer): (Singing) Keep rolling, rolling, rolling. Though the streams are swollen. Keep them doggies rolling, rawhide. Through rain and wind and weather…

CHADWICK: Frankie Lane's recording of "Rawhide" released in 1959 is familiar to generations. We learned this morning that he died yesterday at age 93.

(Soundbite of song, "That's My Desire")

Mr. LANE: (Singing) To meet where gypsies play down in some dim cafe. And dance…

BRAND: Frankie Lane burst unto the musical scene with this R&B-inspired hit "That's My Desire" in 1947. But he'd been kicking around showbiz for more than a decade, getting his start in the 1930s as a marathon dancer. He once danced for 3,500 hours in 145 consecutive days.

(Soundbite of song, "That's My Desire")

Mr. LANE: (Singing) I'll gaze into your eyes divine. I'll feel the touch of your lips pressing on mine.

CHADWICK: Frankie Lane went on to become one of the most popular singers of the post-war years, recording scores of hits, including 21 gold records. He also built a career as an actor, and he hosted a television variety show that ran two summers during the early '50s. Like many singers of his generation, Frankie's career was derailed by the arrival of rock and roll later in that decade, but he continued to perform and record. His last album was released just three years ago.

BRAND: Frankie Lane's vocal style was heavily influenced by black performers. He was an active supporter of the civil rights movement, and the first white artist to appear on Nat King Cole's variety show.

CHADWICK: In 1993, Congress declared Frankie Lane a national treasure. He died at age 93 yesterday from heart failure. Here he is singing one of his signature tunes, "Mule Train".

(Soundbite of song, "Mule Train")

Mr. LANE: (Singing) There's a plug of chaw tobaccy for a rancher in Corolla. A guitar for a cowboy way out in Arizona. A dress of calico for a pretty Navajo. Get along mule. Get along. Mule train. Hee-hyaw! Hee-hyaw! Mule train.

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