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Singer Jo Stafford, Popular in the Pre-Rock Era, Dies at 90

Jo Stafford, a big band and pop singer ranked by Billboard as the top female singer of the pre-rock 1940-54 era, died July 16 at her home in Century City, Calif. The cause was congestive heart failure. Stafford, who also sang in a comedic duo with her husband Paul Weston under the names Jonathan and Darlene Edwards, was 90.

Stafford was born in Coalinga, Calif., in 1917. After performing in a singing group with her sisters, she joined the Pied Pipers, who sang with Tommy Dorsey’s orchestra, which included a young Frank Sinatra. The Pied Pipers signed to the new Capitol Records in 1943 and Stafford later married the label’s musical director, Paul Weston, in 1952. By that time Stafford had already placed some 60 records on the charts as a solo artist, the most popular being the single “You Belong to Me,” which topped the Billboard chart for 12 weeks in 1952. Stafford also scored a number one in 1954 with “Make Love to Me” and placed a number one in 1948 with “My Darling, My Darling,” a duet with Gordon MacRae.

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