Slim Whitman began his career back in the 40s when he was “discovered” by Colonel Tom Parker, who managed Eddy Arnold and later managed Elvis.
However it was not until 1952 that his career really took off with the hit “Love Song Of The Waterfall” and the million-selling “Indian Love Call”. That made him a star in the USA but it was “Rose Marie” that took him to the top of the UK pop charts for an unprecedented 11 consecutive weeks in 1955. This in turn led to him touring the UK twice in that decade including being the first country singer to headline the London Palladium.
Slim enjoyed several chart records in the 50s but it was his historic 1970 appearance at the Hammersmith Odeon in London – a leading theatre for popular music in the UK – that generated a string of record-breaking tours throughout the UK, Ireland, Australia, etc – which lasted until his retirement in 2002. Along the way there were chart-topping albums, a return to the singles charts in 1974 with “Happy Anniversary”, the all-time biggest selling TV album in the world with “All My Best” in the USA and being voted “International Male Vocalist Of The Year” on several occasions. From the late 70s on he was joined on stage by his son, Byron, a talented songwriter, musician, singer and producer and together they toured the world.
Yet ironically, much of the coverage of his recent passing has focused on the fact that his music was featured in the films “Mars Attacks” (where his yodel killed the Martians) and “Close Encounters Of the Third Kind”. Many chose to make fun of this man with the rhinestone stage suit, sideburns and pencil moustache – Slim never minded that, he said “they laughed me all the way to the Bank”! Famous for his Christian principles, his 67 year marriage to childhood sweetheart Jerry, his devotion to his fans and his unique wide ranging, melodic voice and yodel, he was an exceptional man.
Slim Whitman has been the most requested singer on “World Of Country” since the show began in 2010. In this show, Paul Hazell invited some of the many who knew or worked with Slim, or who just loved his music, to celebrate his long and successful life. You may also like to listen to the interview that Slim and Byron gave to the programme earlier in 2013.
Comments received from listeners:
I would like to place on record that last night’s show hosted by Paul Hazell was without doubt the most enjoyable broadcast I have heard on any Radio Station, bar none. Paul’s ability to research and to organise the guests who spoke on the show is truly remarkable. You are so fortunate to have such a talented man working at your station. Your station has been elevated to a level never previously attained.
Hi Paul, What a Beautiful Tribute to Slim last night, Thoroughly enjoyed it from start to finish. I thought it might be Upsetting but it was most Uplifting. Keep up the Good Work. Thanks again.
What a credit Paul is to your station. Many thanks to Paul and to your station for tonight’s tribute to Slim Whitman I will certainly be listening to Uckfield FM again thanks.
Thanks again for another wonderful programme and lovely tribute to Slim. I’ve enjoyed it immensely and especially, the contributions from Jerry West, Loren Knapp, Peter Snashell and Albert Clayton. I do hope Albert Clayton takes your advice and write’s a book of his experiences of working with Slim. It would be nice if Gerry West and Peter Snashel did so too. In addition, it would be nice to have Slim’s Biography fully updated by the person best qualified to do so – his son Byron. As you said Slim was a Master of his craft and unique, he was quiet and unassuming and a thoroughly decent man and never let fame go to his head, always putting his family first and always having time for his fans. I was really sad and quite surprised when I heard on the 19th (My grandfather’s birthday) that Slim had passed away but this celebration of his life and music, this evening has cheered me up, so much!
Just a note to say what a brilliant job you did last night on your programme. To intersperse records by Slim together with interviews with so many of the people involved with Slims career was a master stroke. It was a good idea to spread the tributes throughout the programme rather than have a dedicated part of the programme devoted to his career. I am sure everyone, Slim Whitman fans or not, would have enjoyed the programme. Thank you for including myself in the programme – I felt it was a great privilege to be part of a very special tribute.
Peter Webster – Slim’s Official Discographer
I’d like to take this opportunity to state how much I enjoyed Paul Hazell’s tribute to the late great Slim Whitman. Hearing those who knew the great man personally relate antidotes and stories made the show something very special. The chat room was like old friends sitting around the pot belly stove sharing loving memories. Paul deserves a huge thank you as the show went by without a single hitch. How he lined up all those wonderful friends of Slim’s and coordinated all the phone calls I’ll never know. The show was kept upbeat while at the same time causing a heavy sigh and misty eyes at times. Please, keep playing Slim’s music and we’ll keep listening to Paul’s show all around the world.
Loren R. Knapp
Oro Valley, Arizona
Paul always puts on a great show and this programme will be very close to his heart. Slim and Paul had been friends for many years, Slim got Paul into yodelling many years ago.