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Laura Branigan, 47; Grammy Nominee for 1982 Hit Song 'Gloria'

August 30, 2004|From Times Staff and Wire Reports

NEW YORK — Laura Branigan, a Grammy-nominated pop singer best known for her 1982 platinum hit "Gloria," has died. She was 47.

Branigan died in her sleep of a brain aneurysm Thursday at her home in East Quogue, N.Y., according to her brother Mark Branigan. He said she had complained about a headache for two weeks before she died, but had not sought medical attention.

"Gloria," a signature song from the singer's debut album "Branigan," stayed atop the pop charts for 36 weeks and earned her a Grammy nomination for best female pop vocalist, the first of four nominations in her career.

She also made television appearances, including guest spots on "CHiPs," as well as the films "Mugsy's Girls" and "Backstage."

Branigan released seven albums after her debut, including "Solitaire," "Self Control" and "How Am I Supposed to Live Without You," which was written with Michael Bolton. Her songs also appeared on soundtracks for the films "Flashdance" and "Ghostbusters."

Branigan was born July 3, 1957, and grew up in Brewster, N.Y. She attended the Academy of Dramatic Arts in Manhattan. During the late 1970s, she toured Europe as a backup vocalist for Leonard Cohen. She signed as a solo artist with Atlantic Records in 1982.

Her concerts in Southern California were staged at such venues as the Universal Amphitheater and Del Mar Fairgrounds.

Times reviews of her performances and albums over the years cited her "terrific voice" but dearth of good material. In evaluating Branigan's 1985 release "Hold Me," one critic wrote: "Plaintive and passionate, Branigan's style is intact, but she needs material weighty enough to support her exotic rock diva aspirations."

After her run of success in the 1980s, Branigan's releases in the early 1990s attracted little attention. In 1994, she sang a duet with David Hasselhoff titled "I Believe" for the soundtrack of the television show "Baywatch."

She released a 13-track "Best of Branigan" album the next year -- prompting a Times reviewer to note: "This pop singer has a strong voice.... But she never had a distinctive style, always sounding too much like Donna Summer. As you can tell from this drab collection, she also had a habit of singing bad material."

Branigan stopped performing after the death of her husband, Lawrence Kruteck, in 1996, but returned to the stage in 2001. In 2002, she starred as Janis Joplin in the off-Broadway musical "Love, Janis," which earned her rave reviews.

Branigan had recently been working on material for a new release.

She is survived by her mother, two brothers and a sister. Funeral services were scheduled for today.

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