News / Arts & Entertainment

Legendary Country Singer Slim Whitman Dead at 90

FILE - This 1980 file photo originally provided by Epic Records shows Country singer Slim Whitman.
FILE - This 1980 file photo originally provided by Epic Records shows Country singer Slim Whitman.
Reuters
Legendary Country singer and songwriter Slim Whitman, known for his smooth falsetto and high-pitched yodeling talent, died in Florida on Wednesday at the age of 90, his son-in-law said.
 
Roy Beagle, who is married to Whitman's daughter Sharon,  said the singer-songwriter who was born Ottis Dewey Whitman Jr.  was admitted to hospital on Tuesday.
 
“He died last night at the Orange Park hospital at about 12:45 this morning of heart failure,” Beagle told Reuters.  “We had a 90th birthday party for him in January and he looked good, but he had been in failing health since then.”
 
Whitman, who was self-taught on the guitar and had a string of hits including “Rose Marie,” “Indian Love Call” and “Secret Love,” recorded dozens of albums and sold millions of records during his career, which began in the late 1940s.
 
Whitman was working in a shipyard in Florida when he was discovered by Colonel Tom Parker, who later became Elvis Presley's manager. He signed his first recording contract with RCA records in 1948.
 
The singer and Elvis toured together in the 1950s.
 
Whitman released “Love Song of the Waterfall” in the early 1950s, which more than two decades later was on the soundtrack of the film “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”.
 
It was followed by “Indian Love Call,” his first million seller. A few years later, in 1955, he joined the Grand Ole Opry.
 
His other hits include “Danny Boy,” “Red River Valley” and “Have I Told You Lately That I Love You.”
 
International Fame
 
Although Whitman was once known as “America's Favorite Folksinger,” he was more popular in Europe than in the United States, particularly in Britain where he did many tours.
 
“I have sold 120 million records,” Whitman said in an interview last year. “Half of those could be in Europe.”
 
On his birthday last year the singer said he received a greeting from Africa.
 
“We toured everywhere, Australia, New Zealand. I had a six-week tour of Africa,” he added. “All that started with England.”
 
His long-time friend, Grand Ole Opry star George Hamilton IV, credits Whitman for the rise of Country music internationally.

“He was the key, pivotal figure in spreading Country music internationally, long before the rest of us,” Hamilton said in an interview after learning of Whitman's death.
 
“He was just a wonderful, gracious Southern gentleman and a dear friend. We toured together several times over there and our paths continued crossing at the Wembley Festival,” he said, referring to the International Festival of Country Music at Wembley Arena.
 
Hamilton said he regretted that Whitman had not been inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame.
 
Whitman gained new fans in the late 1970s and 1980s when a TV album featuring 20 of his songs was released and for his late-night commercials featuring his yodeling vocals. The commercials inspired the late talk show host Johnny Carson to style one of his “Tonight Show” sketch characters after Whitman.
 
In 1996 Whitman was featured in the soundtrack for the science fiction film “Mars Attacks,” and more than a decade later in 2010 released his last album, “Twilight on the Trail.”
 
Despite his international fame, Beagle said Whitman was the happiest living a low-key life in Florida.
 
“He really enjoyed the farm and fishing more than anything else,” he said.
 
In addition to his daughter, Sharon, Whitman is survived by his son, Byron, two grandchildren and one great-grandchild.

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ebola Lockdown May Be Extended

Lockdown, which started Friday, aims to allow health workers to locate hidden Ebola patients, educate others on how to avoid the deadly disease More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As the tumult in the Middle East distracts Obama, shifting American focus eastward appears threatened More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Fears Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid

New in Music Alley

The Hamilton Live

Trumpeter, percussionist and bandleader Etienne Charles was born in Trinidad and blends island rhythms with modern jazz. He and his stellar band perform a rich gumbo of jazz, calypso, reggae, and rock-steady that Charles calls “Creole Soul” on "The Hamilton Live."