As you might guess, Gogi Grant was not her real name. She was born Myrtle Audrey Arinsberg in 1924 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. A singer from a young age, she won several talent shows until one day she got the attention of Dave Kapp, the A&R guy for RCA Victor Records. At the time she was singing under the name of Audrey Grant and Kapp told her Audrey was not the name of a singer, so he changed it to Gogi.
There are conflicting stories as to how she got her name. One version says that Kapp chose the name because he frequented a restaurant called “Gogi’s LaRue” in New York City. But, later when asked where the name came from, Kapp just said “Darned if I know, I just dreamed it up.” So, either from a dream or a restaurant, from that time on, she was known as Gogi Grant. She had a top ten hit with “Suddenly There’s a Valley” in 1955. Then she recorded “The Wayward Wind” and essentially disappeared. Oh, she did hit the Hot 100 a few times, but her songs came in at positions like 69, 75 and 80. She never had another big hit and by 1961, she was gone from the charts completely.
I recently found out that Gogi Grant died just this year, on March 10, 2016. She was 91 years old.
“The Wayward Wind” was originally written as a country song by Stanley Lebowsky and Herb Newman when the two were students at UCLA. It was intended for a man to sing and some of the words were different. When Gogi decided to record it, they re-wrote some of the lyrics to a woman’s point of view. It is said that she only took about fifteen minutes to record the song. In 1956, it was recorded by Tex Ritter as well as Gogi Grant, but Ritter never even touched the country chart with the song. However, he did do well in England with the song.
You might read that “The Wayward Wind” knocked “Heartbreak Hotel” out of the number one spot. That’s true on some charts, but the one I am using shows it coming after “Moonglow” and “Hot Diggity.” “The Wayward Wind” entered the chart on June 16, 1956 and stayed at number one for eight weeks.
There are other original versions of the song on YouTube, but none that I could find that actually shows Gogi singing the song, which I prefer. This video is from 2004 and is Gogi herself singing. She was 80 years old. She does pretty good, if you ask me. Enjoy “The Wayward Wind.”
Next: “I Almost Lost My Mind” – Pat Boone