Ah, Mr W, you are still one of my musical heroes……
At 87 Slim Whitman is still around (though he heard rumours of his own death in 2008) but in the early 50s he was very big on the US country scene. In America he had faded in the charts by the end of the decade but he was always popular in Europe and frequently toured there.
With his falsetto voice and yodelling breaks he was always instantly recognisable. A navy man during WW2 his first big break came when he was contacted, pre Presley, by Colonel Tom Parker and got his first record contract.
In 1952 his big break came when he reached #2 in the US Country chart with “Indian Love Call”. He tended to sing songs of love and romance and his crooning style was not always popular with some country purists. Nevertheless compilations of his greatest hits have always sold well and, within the first two seconds many could still recognise those distinctive swirling perfectly pitched notes..
The other trademark of the Whitman sound is the “singing steel guitar” of Hoot Rains..
The soaring notes of the steel guitar can be heard in many of Slim’s early songs. It all started by accident in the classic, “Love Song of the Waterfall.” One night while performing the song, Hoot overshot a note sending it soaring skyward. Slim asked Hoot after the show, “what happened out there”? Hoot said, “I missed it.” Slim liked what he heard and said, with a wry grin, “Well, miss it again!” They soon worked this unusual new sound into his songs. They called this new technique “shooting arrows..
….and the Slim Whitman version of the classic western number “Cool Water” written by Bob Nolan, of Sons of the Pioneers fame.
Surfing the net for Slim one consistent narrative appears to be that his voice brings back fond memories, even amongst people who were not around in his heyday – I wonder if anyone will be saying that in sixty years time over Lady Ga Ga?
BTW – if you want to meet up with the Slim Whitman Appreciation Society then go here….