Monday, January 20, 2014

January 20: country music and “Telemarketing” legend, Slim Whitman, was born on this date in 1923…

… he was 90-years-old when he died from heart failure in Orange Park, Florida on June 19, 2013.

Ottis Dewey Whitman, Jr. -known professionally as Slim Whitman – was born on June 19, 2013, in Tampa, Florida. He sold more than 120 million records, and was best known for his yodeling abilities and his smooth high octave falsetto.

As a youngster, he listened to country music legends Jimmie Rodgers and Gene Autry, but 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.

While working at a Tampa shipyard, he performed with 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. Signed with RCA Records, he released his first single in 1948. He toured and sang at a variety of venues, including on the radio show Louisiana Hayride.

In the early 1950s his first hit was a rendition of Bob Nolan’s hit Love Song of the Waterfall, which made it into the country music top 10.] His next single, "Indian Love Call," was even more successful, reaching number 2 in the country music charts and appearing in the pop music charts top ten in the US. 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.

In 1955 in the United Kingdom, he had a No.1 hit on the pop music charts with "Rose Marie." With 19 weeks in the chart and 11 weeks at the top of the UK Singles Chart, 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. Soon after, Whitman was invited to join the Grand Ole Opry. T

Throughout the early 1970s, he continued to record and was a guest on Wolfman Jack's television show The Midnight Special. However, his records only yielded minor hits.

In 1979, Whitman produced a TV commercial to support the release of a greatest hits compilation titled All My Best, which went on to be the best-selling TV-marketed record in music history, with almost 1.5 million units sold. Just For You followed in 1980, The Best in 1982, Best Loved Favorites in 1989 and 20 Precious Memories in 1991. His last album, Twilight on the Trail, was released in 2010.


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