Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Coutn* (for Count*, etc.)

Today is the birthday of Ottis Dewey Whitman, born in Tampa, Florida, in 1923. "Slim" Whitman, who opened for Elvis Presley and was once known as "America's favorite folk singer," was actually more popular abroad than he was here. He could yodel and had a sort of patented sound (a "smooth, high, three-octave-range falsetto") and a style dubbed "countrypolitan" in Nashville. He had a huge breakout hit with Indian Love Call (from the 1924 operetta Rose-Marie) in 1952 and his accompanying song "Rose Marie" rose to #2 on the Billboard country music chart. It also held the world's record for 36 years for the longest time (11 weeks) at the top of the UK Singles Chart. Some of you younger viewers may know "Indian Love Call" as the tune that killed alien invaders in the 1996 Tim Burton movie Mars Attacks! Both Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney (who credits a picture of Whitman holding his guitar with figuring out how to play left-handed, though Whitman was really right-handed) claimed him as a major influence. He's got a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1968. And as if all of that somehow weren't quite enough, he's even got a daffodil named after him! There were 38 cases of today's typo in OhioLINK, and 567 in WorldCat.

(Publicity photo of singer, songwriter, and musician Slim Whitman, 20 November 1968, from Wikimedia Commons.)

Carol Reid

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