Slim Whitman, the high-pitched yodeling county music singer whose productive career spanned decades, died Wednesday, his son-in-law told CNN. He was 90.
The singer-songwriter, born Ottis Dewey Whitman Jr., died of heart failure at Orange Park Medical Center in Florida, Roy Beagle said.
Whitman gained fame in Europe as well as the United States. “Love Song of the Waterfall,” which a Country Music Television biography calls his “breakthrough” hit, was released in the early ’50s.
His next single “Indian Love Call” brought him stardom, according to the bio.
“Whitman joined the Grand Ole Opry, and then went to Britain in 1956 as the first country singer to play the London Palladium. Throughout the late ’50s and early ’60s, he had a string of British hits, including ‘Tumbling Tumbleweeds,’ ‘Unchain My Heart,’ and ‘I’ll Take You Home Again Kathleen,” the bio said.
He gained cult status after he filmed a TV commercial that touted a released of his top greatest hits, a compilation that was a great success.
“Between 1980 and 1984, Whitman had a small run of minor hits, highlighted by 1980′s number 15 hit ‘When.’ In the late ’80s, he returned to television-marketed albums, releasing Slim Whitman: Best Loved Favorites in 1989 and 20 Precious Memories in 1991. During the ’90s, Whitman recorded infrequently but continued to tour successfully, particularly in Europe and Australia,” CMT said.
His music was featured in the 1996 film “Mars Attacks!” In the film, the sound of Whitman’s “Indian Love Call” made the heads of invading Martians explode.
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