Legendary country singer Slim Whitman dead at 90

Wed Jun 19, 2013 2:43pm EDT
 
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By Patricia Reaney and Tim Ghianni

NEW YORK/NASHVILLE (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.   Continued...