Born: 3 July 1952 in Brewster, New York, USA.
Died: 26 August 2004 in Long Island, New York, USA (aged 52).
Laura Branigan studied at the Academy of Dramatic Arts in Manhattan during the mid 1970s.
Branigan's recording career began in the mid 70s with a group called Meadows, resulting in the forgotten release "The Friend Ship", but her solo career took off when Ahmet Ertegun and Doug Morris signed her to Atlantic Records in 1980, after she had toured with Leonard Cohen as backing singer for his "Death Of A Ladies Man" world tour. Her first LP for Atlantic, "Silver Dreams", remains unreleased due to a Contract Lawsuit with her management at the time, although a promo track Looking Out For Number One became a small club hit.
Her first commercial release All Night With Me charted at no 62, but her next release, a remake of Umberto Tozzi's Gloria led to worldwide acclaim, getting to no 2 in the USA, and the top ten in most other territories, earning Branigan the first of many nominations for a Grammy, amongst other awards. Branigan's music was heavily influenced by the singers she admired, Donna Summer, Aretha Franklin, Gladys Knight, Stevie Nicks, and like Donna Summer she used European producers, arrangers and musicians (notably Jack White and Harold Faltermeyer) to create a eurodisco style with an American twist, whilst most of her big hits, Gloria, Solitaire Self Control, Power Of Love, were originally European compositions.
Although she had chart success with singles from her first three albums (the single Self Control gaining no 4 in the USA and Britain and No 1 in Germany), and had contributed tracks for Hollywood films ("Imagination" on Flashdance - Original Soundtrack From The Motion Picture, "Hot Night" on Ghostbusters (Original Soundtrack Album) and "Sharpshooter" on Body Rock (Original Motion Picture Soundtrack)), Branigan's subsequent albums were not well received by the record buying public, as she became eclipsed in the pop world by the likes of Madonna, Kylie Minogue, Celine Dion and others.
Branigan's fans fell into 2 camps, with her MOR ballads appealing to a conservative crowd, but her up-tempo eurodisco/Hi-NRG-AOR soft rock/disco tracks ensuring she always had a large gay following. Indeed, she recorded two tracks, a cover of Ellie Warren's Shattered Glass and Hazell Dean's Whatever I Do (Wherever I Go) with Stock, Aitken & Waterman for her 5th album,Touch. Her powerful voice with its 4 octave range was suited to both queen of heartbreak ballads in a similar vein to Abba's Agnetha Fältskog, to booming anthemic Hi-Nrg/AOR rock.
After the release of her seventh album Over My Heart for Atlantic in 1993, Branigan semi-retired from the music industry to care for her husband, suffering from cancer. In the mid-late 90's she returned with a compilation The Best Of Branigan which included two new tracks, covers of Maria McKee's "Show Me Heaven" and Donna Summer's "Dim All The Lights", the video of which comes complete with over the top drag queens. From then on she was to record very little new material.
In 2002 Branigan appeared on stage as Janis Joplin in "Love, Janis" and earned rave reviews. She appeared to go back into the studio to record a few tracks The Challenge, a cover of ABBA's The Winner Takes It All, but she died suddenly in her sleep from a brain aneurysm. Dance Street Records in Germany rushed out a small compilation Remember Me soon after her death, which also included new club remixes of "Gloria" and "Self Control".
Alongside her recording career, Branigan landed acting parts in films (Mugsy's Girl in 1985, Backstage in 1988) and in TV shows including Chips and Monsters (1991).
Laura Branigan Discography
- 16 Vocals
- 3 Instruments & Performance
- 19 Writing & Arrangement
- 6 Featuring & Presenting
- 8 Production
- 1 Acting, Literary & Spoken