Laura Branigan: 1957-2004
updated 09/13/2004 AT 01:00 AM EDT
•originally published 09/13/2004 AT 01:00 AM EDT
Tears of sorrow were shed last week as family and friends attended a funeral mass in Armonk, N.Y., for the 47-year-old singer, who died Aug. 26 of a brain aneurysm while asleep at her home in East Quogue, N.Y. When she'd begun to complain of headaches in the past few weeks, "she thought it was stress," says her friend, real estate agent Gary Knotoff. Apparently it didn't cross her mind that she might be on the verge of the same brain hemorrhage that killed her father, as well as his father. "As silly as it sounds, you think it won't happen to you," says her brother Mark, 54, a Wall Street executive.
Her talent, though, seemed destined to connect with an audience. The voice—a blend of disco, torch and rock—"really brought a song to life," says Warren. Branigan sang backup for Leonard Cohen in 1977 before signing with Atlantic Records cofounder Ahmet Ertegun. "I was knocked out by the power of her voice and her great range," he says. She hit big in 1982 with her first album, containing "Gloria," followed by other Top 10 hits like 1984's "Self Control." But she dropped out in the '90s to nurse her husband, attorney Larry Kruteck, who died of colon cancer in 1996. In recent years she continued to perform and record music (and dated the drummer in her band, Tommy Bayiokos). But she spent most of her time caring for her mother, Kathleen, 83, who has Alzheimer's, while gardening and cooking for friends. "She was a giving person," says her brother. "She was certainly full of life."