Country music icon and yodeler extraordinaire Slim Whitman has died at age 90 in a Florida Hospital, reports News4Jax.com.
Here’s what you should know about this falsetto-crooning legend.
1. He Sold 120 Million-Plus Records!
In a career that spanned six decades, Whitman was among the most successful artists of all time.
Ottis Dewey Whitman Jr. — later nicknamed “Slim” for his slender figure — was born in Tampa, Florida, in 1923. It wasn’t until the late 1940s, after his Navy service in World War II, that his music career was launched in earnest. And it wasn’t until he early ’50s that he saw his first hit single with “Love Song of the Waterfall” (above).
2. His Goofy TV Ads in the ’80s Made Him a Cult Figure … and Subject of Countless Jokes
Johnny Carson found endless material in riffing on Whitman’s TV spots, which were among the most successful television music marketing spots of all time. The commercials made Whitman a household name.
3. He Was an Absolutely Amazing Yodeler
Known early in his career as “the cowboy singer Slim Whitman,” he was a virtuoso of yodeling — the falsetto, warbling vocal art form made famous by country music pioneer Jimmie Rodgers.
4. His Son Was Sending Updates on His Father’s Health via Facebook
Whitman’s wife, Alma “Jerry” Crist Whitman, died in 2009. They had two children together, Sharon and Byron K. Whitman — who was also a musical performer. He had two grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.
5. Michael Jackson Called Whitman One of His Top 10 Favorite Singers
MJ, who like Whitman was a master of falsetto, took his cues from the country legend’s high-octave stylings. George Harrison also called Whitman a major influence — keying on Whitman’s left-handed guitar (Whitman was right-handed but lost a finger on his dominant hand in an accident). And Elvis Presley can thank Whitman for boosting his career, as the future rock and roll superstar rode Whitman’s coattails as the opening act for Whitman in 1954.