Slim Whitman

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Slim Whitman
Slim Whitman 1968.JPG
Ottis "Slim" Whitman
Background information
Birth nameOttis Dewey Whitman, Jr.
Also known asO. D. Whitman,
Slim Whitman
The smiling starduster
Born(1923-01-20)January 20, 1923
Tampa, Florida, US
DiedJune 19, 2013(2013-06-19) (aged 90)
Orange Park, Florida, US
GenresCountry and Western music, folk music, Contemporary Christian music
Occupation(s)Singer-songwriter, musician
InstrumentsAcoustic guitar, vocals
Years active1948–2010
LabelsRCA/Imperial/United Artists/Epic/Suffolk
Associated actsByron Whitman,Virginia Lee, Elvis Presley (toured with), Chet Atkins.
 
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Slim Whitman
Slim Whitman 1968.JPG
Ottis "Slim" Whitman
Background information
Birth nameOttis Dewey Whitman, Jr.
Also known asO. D. Whitman,
Slim Whitman
The smiling starduster
Born(1923-01-20)January 20, 1923
Tampa, Florida, US
DiedJune 19, 2013(2013-06-19) (aged 90)
Orange Park, Florida, US
GenresCountry and Western music, folk music, Contemporary Christian music
Occupation(s)Singer-songwriter, musician
InstrumentsAcoustic guitar, vocals
Years active1948–2010
LabelsRCA/Imperial/United Artists/Epic/Suffolk
Associated actsByron Whitman,Virginia Lee, Elvis Presley (toured with), Chet Atkins.

Ottis Dewey Whitman, Jr. (January 20, 1923 – June 19, 2013), known professionally as Slim Whitman, was an American country music and western music singer, songwriter and instrumentalist known for his yodeling abilities and his smooth high three octave range falsetto. He stated that he had sold in excess of 120 million records. In the 1950s Whitman toured with Elvis Presley.[1]

Although once known as Americas Favorite Folk Singer, he was consistently more popular throughout Europe, and in particular the United Kingdom, than in his native America, especially with his covers of pop standards, film songs, love songs, folk tunes and melodic gospel hymns. His 1955 hit single "Rose Marie" held the Guinness World Record for the longest time at number one on the UK Singles Chart for 36 years until Bryan Adams broke the record in 1991 and was listed in British Hit Singles & Albums. In the US his "Indian Love Call" (1952) and "Secret Love" (1953) both reached No. 2 on the Billboard country chart. Whitman had a string of hits from the mid-1960s and into the 1970s and became known to a new generation of fans through television direct marketing in the 1980s. Throughout the 1990s and into the 21st century, he continued to tour extensively around the world and release new material. His last album, Twilight on the Trail, produced by his son Byron Whitman was a cover of western standards including the Gene Autry single Back in the Saddle Again and was released in 2010, when Whitman was 87 years old.

Biography[edit]

Whitman was born Ottis Dewey Whitman Jr, in Tampa, Florida, on January 20, 1923.[2][3][4] Growing up, he liked the country music of Jimmie Rodgers and the songs of Gene Autry, but he did not embark on a musical career of his own until the end of World War II, after he had served in the South Pacific with the United States Navy.

Whitman, a self-taught left-handed guitarist was right-handed, but he had lost almost all of the second finger on his left hand in an accident.[5] He worked at a Tampa shipyard while developing a musical career, eventually performing with a band known as the Variety Rhythm Boys. Whitman's first big break came when talent manager "Colonel" Thomas Parker heard him singing on the radio and offered to represent him.[5] After signing with RCA Records,[5] he was billed as "the cowboy singer Slim Whitman" and released his first single in 1948. He toured and sang at a variety of venues, including on the radio show Louisiana Hayride.

At first, he was not able to make a living from music and kept a part-time job. That changed in the early 1950s after he recorded a version of the Bob Nolan hit Love Song of the Waterfall, which made it into the country music top ten.[2] His next single, "Indian Love Call," was even more successful, reaching number two in the country music charts and appearing in the pop music charts top ten in the US.[2]

A yodeller, Whitman avoided the "down on yer luck buried in booze" songs, preferring instead to sing laid-back romantic melodies about simple life and love. Critics dubbed his style "countrypolitan," owing to its fusion of country music and a more sophisticated crooning vocal style.[6] Although he recorded many western tunes, love and romance songs figured prominently in his repertoire.

In 1955 in the United Kingdom, he had a No.1 hit on the pop music charts with "Rose Marie." With nineteen weeks in the charts and eleven weeks at the top of the UK Singles Chart,[7] the song set a record that lasted for 36 years. In 1956 he became the first ever country music singer to perform at the London Palladium.[8] Soon after, Whitman was invited to join the Grand Ole Opry, and in 1957, along with other musical stars, he appeared in the film musical Jamboree. Despite this exposure, he never achieved the level of stardom in the United States that he did in Britain, where he had a number of other hits during the 1950s.[7] Throughout the early 1970s, he continued to record and was a guest on Wolfman Jack's television show The Midnight Special.[8] At the time, Whitman's recording efforts were yielding only minor hits in the US. The mid 1970s were a successful time for Whitman in the UK Albums Chart. In 1976 a compilation album, "The Very Best of Slim Whitman" was number one for six weeks staying seventeen weeks on the chart. Another number one album followed in 1977 with Red River Valley; four weeks at number one and fourteen weeks on the chart. Later the same year his album "Home on the Range" made number 2 on the chart amassing a chart stay of thirteen weeks only to be kept from the top place by 20 Golden Greats by the Supremes.[7][9]

The TV albums briefly made Whitman a household name in America for the first time in his career, resulting in everything from a first-time appearance on The Tonight Show starring Johnny Carson to Whitman being parodied in a comic skit on SCTV with him (played by Joe Flaherty) starring in the Che-like male lead in an Evita-like Broadway musical on the life of Indira Gandhi. More importantly, the TV albums gave him a brief resurgence in mainstream country music with new album releases on major labels and a few new singles making the country charts. During this time he toured Europe and Australia with moderate success.

In late January 2008, a false rumor of his death spread on the internet, believed to have been started by an erroneous report posted on the website of the Nashville Tennessean newspaper.[10]

In 2010, after more than eight years in production, Whitman released the album Twilight on the Trail, his first new studio album in 26 years. It was produced by his son Byron Whitman and featuring many well known session musicians, including long time band member Harold Bradley.[8]

Personal life[edit]

After 1957 Whitman lived at his estate, Woodpecker Paradise, in Middleburg, a city located south of Orange Park, Florida, in Clay County.[11][12]

In 2009, Whitman's wife of 67 years, Alma Geraldine "Jerry" Crist Whitman, born in Kansas, died at the age of 84. She was a songwriter and embroiderer as well as the daughter of a church minister, A.D. Crist, founder of the Church of the Brethren. Whitman and his wife had a daughter, Sharron Beagle; and a son, Byron K. Whitman, who is also a performer and music producer who has released a number of recordings and who toured and recorded with his father on numerous occasions. They had two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.[13]

Slim Whitman died of heart failure[14] on June 19, 2013, at age 90, surrounded by family at Orange Park Medical Center in Orange Park, Florida.[15][16]

Honours[edit]

Narcissus ('Slim Whitman' cultivar), Real Jardín Botánico de Madrid

For his contribution to the recording industry, Slim Whitman was given the accolade of a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame at 1709 Vine Street.[17] He was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum's Walkway of Stars in 1968.[17]

Legacy[edit]

Beatle George Harrison cited Whitman as an early influence: "The first person I ever saw playing a guitar was Slim Whitman, either a photo of him in a magazine or live on television. Guitars were definitely coming in."[18] When a young Paul McCartney purchased his first guitar, the left-handed musician was unsure how to play an instrument that was manufactured and strung for a right-handed player. It was not until McCartney saw a picture of Whitman playing left-handed that he re-strung his guitar so that he too could play left-handed.[19][20] American pop singer Michael Jackson cited Whitman as one of his ten favorite vocalists.[21]

The 1996 film Mars Attacks! features Whitman's rendition of "Indian Love Call" as a weapon against alien invaders.[8][22] In 2003, Rob Zombie used Whitman's version of "I Remember You" in his movie directorial debut in House of 1000 Corpses.[8]

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

YearAlbumChart PositionsLabel
US CountryUSUK[23]
1954America's Favorite Folk ArtistImperial
Favorites
1957Slim Whitman Sings
1959My Best to You
Country Favorites
1960I'll Walk with God
Songs of the Old Waterwheel
1961I'll Never Stop Loving You
Just Call Me Lonesome
Cool Water
Annie Laurie
1962Forever
Sings
Heart Songs / Love Song
I'm a Lonely Wanderer
1963Yodeling Country Songs/City Hits
Irish Songs
1964All Time Favorites
1965Love Song of the Waterfall20
Reminiscing
1966More Than Yesterday
(More Country Songs & City Hits)
28
God's Hand in Mine
Travelin' Man
A Time for Love
196715th Anniversary Album25
Country Memories42
1968In Love the Whitman Way16
Happy Street34
1969Slim
Christmas Album
1970Tomorrow Never ComesUnited Artists
1971Guess Who31
It's a Sin to Tell a Lie23
1972The Best of Slim Whitman
1973I'll See You When
25th Anniversary Concert
1974Happy Anniversary
1976Everything Leads Back to You42
1977Red River Valley1
Home on the Range2
1978Ghost Riders in the Sky
1980Songs I Love to SingA25175Cleveland Int'l
Christmas with Slim Whitman47184
1981Mr. Songman
I'll Be Home for Christmas
1984Angeline
1988Magic Moments
1989Best Loved Favorites
199120 Precious Memories
1998The Legendary Slim Whitman – Traditional Country
2010Twilight on the trail

Singles[edit]

YearSingleChart PositionsAlbum
US CountryUSUK[23]CAN Country
1952Love Song of the Waterfall10America's Favorite Folk Artist
"Bandera Waltz"
"In a Hundred Years or More"single only
"Indian Love Call"297Favorites
"Amateur in Love"
"Keep It a Secret"3
"My Heart Is Broken in Three"10America's Favorite Folk Artist
1953"All That I'm Asking Is Sympathy"Slim Whitman Sings
"Song of the Old Waterwheel"America's Favorite Folk Artist
"Danny Boy"singles only
"North Wind"8
"Lord Help Me Be as Thou"
1954"Secret Love"2Favorites
"Rose Marie"41
"Beautiful Dreamer"
"Singing Hills"4single only
1955"The Cattle Call"11Favorites
"Roll On Silvery Moon"Slim Whitman Sings
"I'll Never Stop Loving You"singles only
"Song of the Wild"
1956"Tumbling Tumbleweeds"19Slim Whitman Sings
"I'm a Fool"16
"Whiffenpoof Song"singles only
"Smoke Signals"
1957"Careless Love"
"I'll Take You Home Again, Kathleen"937Slim Whitman Sings
"Unchain My Heart"Country Favorites
1958"Careless Hands"My Best to You
"Candy Kisses"
"Put Your Trust in Me"
"At the End of Nowhere"
1959"I Never See Maggie Alone"
"Tree in the Meadow"
"Fool Such as I"
"Roll River Roll"Cool Water
1960"I'll Walk with God"I'll Walk with God
"Wind"Cool Water
"Ramona"Just Call Me Lonesome
1961"Just Call Me Lonesome"
"The Bells That Broke My Heart"30
"Once in a Lifetime"Cool Water
"Old Spinning Wheel"Annie Laurie
"It Sure Looks Lonesome Outside"
1962"Annie Laurie"
"Backward Turn Backward"I'm a Lonely Wanderer
"Blues Stay Away from Me"Heart Songs / Love Song
"Wayward Wind"Sings
1963"Love Letters in the Sand"
"So Long Mary"All Time Favorites
"Broken Down Merry-Go-Round"
"My Wild Irish Rose"Irish Songs
"Maria Lena"single only
1964"Tell Me Pretty Words"48All Time Favorites
"I'll Hold You in My Heart"Country Songs, City Hits
"Virginia"Love Song of the Waterfall
1965"Reminiscing"AReminiscing
"More Than Yesterday"8More Than Yesterday
(More Country Songs & City Hits)
1966"The Twelfth of Never"17
"I Remember You"49134Travelin' Man
"One Dream"54A Time for Love
1967"What's This World A-Comin' To"56
"I'm a Fool"6115th Anniversary Album
"The Keeper of the Key"65Country Memories
1968"Rainbows Are Back in Style"176In Love the Whitman Way
"Happy Street"2210Happy Street
"Livin' On Lovin' (And Lovin' Livin' with You)"43
1969"My Happiness"43
"Irresistible"61Slim
1970"Tomorrow Never Comes"27Tomorrow Never Comes
"Shutters and Boards"26
1971"Guess Who"71215Guess Who
"Something Beautiful (To Remember)"623It's a Sin to Tell a Lie
"It's a Sin to Tell a Lie"21
1972"Loveliest Night of the Year"56
"Little Drops of Silver"single only
"(It's No) Sin"51The Best of Slim Whitman
1973"Hold Me"73I'll See You When
"Where the Lilacs Grow"88
1974"It's All in the Game"82Happy Anniversary
"Happy Anniversary"14
1975"Foolish Question"I'll See You When
"Everything Leads Back to You"Everything Leads Back to You
"Mexicali Rose"
1977"Red River Valley"Red River Valley
1980"When"1517Songs I Love to Sing
"That Silver-Haired Daddy of Mine"69
1981"I Remember You" (re-recording)44
"Can't Help Falling in Love with You"54Mr. Songman
"If I Had My Life to Live Over"
1982"My Melody of Love"
1984"Cry Baby Heart"Angeline

B Sides[edit]

YearSongPeak positionsA-Side
UK[23]
1955"China Doll"15"Rose Marie"

Soundtracks[edit]

Filmography[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Reaney, Patricia (June 19, 2013). "Legendary country singer Slim Whitman dead at 89". Reuters. Retrieved June 20, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c Russell, Tony (June 19, 2013). "Slim Whitman obituary". The Guardian (London). Retrieved June 20, 2013. 
  3. ^ Terry Spencer, Slim Whitman Dead: Country Singer Dies At Age 90, Huffington Post, 19 June 2013
  4. ^ First Coast News, Slim Whitman: A Living Legend on the First Coast. May 28, 2008
  5. ^ a b c Martin, Douglas (June 19, 2013). "Slim Whitman, Yodeling Country Singer With a Regular-Guy Image, Dies at 90". The New York Times. Retrieved June 22, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Slim Whitman". Daily Telegraph (London). June 19, 2013. Retrieved June 22, 2013. 
  7. ^ a b c "Slim Whitman". Official UK Charts. Retrieved June 20, 2013. 
  8. ^ a b c d e "Slim Whitman, US country singer, dies at 90". BBC News. June 20, 2013. Retrieved June 20, 2013. 
  9. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums. HIT Entertainment. 
  10. ^ Treen, Dana (January 24, 2008). "Singer says rumors that he is dead aren't true". The Florida Times-Union (Jacksonville). 
  11. ^ "Woodpecker Paradise". 
  12. ^ "Many of the area's music landmarks no longer exist". The Florida Times. July 5, 1998. Retrieved August 17, 2012. 
  13. ^ "Wife of Slim Whitman dies at 84". Jacksonville. 
  14. ^ Spencer, Terry (June 19, 2013). Slim Whitman Dead: Country Singer Dies At Age 90. The Huffington Post. Retrieved June 19, 2013.
  15. ^ "Country singer Slim Whitman, 90, dies overnight". First Coast News. Retrieved June 19, 2013. 
  16. ^ Bortzfield, Bill (June 19, 2013). Local country star Slim Whitman has died. The Florida Times Union. Retrieved June 19, 2013.
  17. ^ a b Martin, Douglas (June 19, 2013). "Slim Whitman, Yodeling Country Singer With a Regular-Guy Image, Dies at 90". The New York Times. Retrieved June 20, 2013. 
  18. ^ Harrison, George (2000). The Beatles Anthology. New York: Chronicle Books. p. 28. 
  19. ^ Miles 1997, p. 21.
  20. ^ Larkin, Colin (1993). The Guinness Who's Who Of Country Music: Slim Whitman entry. Guinness Publishing. ISBN 0-85112-726-6
  21. ^ Marsh, Dave; Bernard, James (1994). The New Book of Rock Lists. New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 362. 
  22. ^ "1923-2013: Country star Slim Whitman of Middleburg has died". Jacksonville. Retrieved June 20, 2013. 
  23. ^ a b c Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 600. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 

External links[edit]