Slim Whitman (1924-2013)

Slim Whitman (1924-2013)

His voice had the power to explode Martian brains in the 1996 film “Mars Attacks!” But millions of Earth-bound listeners have long thrilled to the unique styling of Slim Whitman.

Celebrated for his shimmering falsetto yodeling, effortless delivery and crystalline timbre, he was equally enchanting in his natural tenor range. Born Ottis Dewey Whitman Jr. in Oak Park, Fla., he overcame his youthful stuttering and mastered yodeling by listening to Jimmie Rodgers and Montana Slim on the radio.

While serving with the United States Navy during World War II in the South Pacific, he taught himself guitar, playing left-handed. In 1948, after working in the Tampa, Fla., shipyard and playing semi-pro baseball, Whitman signed with RCA Records. Recording later on the Imperial label, Whitman soon soared to stardom; his “Love Song of the Waterfall” peaked at No. 2 in 1951, with “Indian Love Call” broke the million-sales mark.

His second million-seller, “Rose Marie,” impacted especially in the U.K., where it lodged at No. 1 for 11 consecutive weeks in 1955. The following year, he became the first Country artist to draw a sell-out crowd to the London Palladium. Whitman would ultimately release 42 albums during a 27-year run with Imperial/United Artists. While still achieving success on U.S. Country charts, he enjoyed his greatest popularity in Europe throughout most of his career. Whitman, 90, died June 19 from heart failure in Orange Park, Fla.