A country singer who sold millions of records and found international success over the course of a long career died today of heart failure at a Florida hospital. The family of Slim Whitman, 90, announced the singer’s death, Billboard reports.
“With millions of records sold, Whitman’s keen ability at yodeling and his high octave falsetto kept fans entertained for years,” the story reports. “Born in Tampa, Florida, Whitman grew up enamored with the music of the ‘Singing Brakeman,’ Jimmie Rodgers. However, it wasn’t until his stint in the United States Navy came to an end following the end of World War II that he decided to pursue music as a profession.”
He came to the attention of Tom Parker, the man who would later manage Elvis Presley, and Parker got Whitman a recording contract with RCA Victor. Whitman released his first single in 1948, and went on to make a mark with signature songs such as "Indian Love Call" and "Rose Marie," which became a huge hit in England in 1955, spending 11 weeks at No. 1 on the charts.
Whitman also found success with the singles "The Bells That Broke My Heart," "More Than Yesterday" and "Something To Remember," which went to No. 6 in 1971.
“Though he was well known in the United States, Whitman’s star shone even brighter abroad, as he was one of the most successful country acts in the UK, earning several hits there when his career had slowed in America,” the piece reports. “In 1979, Whitman became involved in what was a new concept — the mail-order TV album. His first, ‘All My Best,’ was a success — selling over 1.5 million units, and led to several other releases in the 1980s. He returned to the Billboard Top 20 in 1980 with ‘When,’ and earned his first appearance on Johnny Carson’s ‘Tonight Show.’"
Here’s a short clip featuring an unusual use of Whitman’s “Indian Love Call” in the movie “Mars Attacks!” (spoiler alert if you haven’t seen the movie):