Slim Whitman, the acclaimed country music singer known for his high-pitched yodeling, died at a Florida hospital on Wednesday. He was 90 years old.
Although his voice charmed and influenced an several generations, he’s probably best known to fans of a certain age for the Tim Burton movie Mars Attacks. Whitman’s yodeling was the only weapon capable of stopping the murderous aliens in their tracks.
According to The Associated Press, Slim Whitman died of heart failure at Orange Park Medical Center. His son-in-law Roy Beagle confirmed the news with the publication.
Ottis Dewey Whitman Jr. was born in Florida on January 23, 1923. He reportedly developed a fondness for yodeling after hearing Jimmie Rodgers on the radio. Whitman worked at a meatpacking plant following high school, a job that would cost the singer one of his fingers. However, this didn’t stop him from creating tons of memorable music.
The singer released over 100 albums during his career, which spanned a whopping six decades. He sold a total of 70 million albums during that time and recorded a staggering 500 songs. The New York Times reports Whitman was often fodder for late-night talk show jokes. However, this didn’t stop him from making a ton of money.
Although he achieved stardom early on — Whitman is credited with encouraging a young Elvis Presley at one point — the singer and his work achieved cult status in the 1980s. Whitman once said he wanted reach everyday folks with his music, writing “the big songs down to the people’s size.”
Once word of Slim Whitman’s death spread online, a number of his fans hopped on Twitter to pay their respects to the late musician. You can find some of their posts embedded below.
Slim Whitman also passed away…believe it or not, he influenced Paul McCartney to play left-handed, and was the first performer seen by GH
— Del Rivers Show (@DelRiversShow) June 20, 2013
Slim Whitman dies, 90 degree temps in Alaska, Cats & Dogs sleeping with each other… What’s happening with this world?
— Brian Boulden (@bjboulden) June 20, 2013
In the shadows of James Gandolfini’s death, I almost missed the passing of Slim Whitman. RIP Slim!
— Tim Martin (@jtimothym) June 20, 2013
A loss to the entertainment world: Slim Whitman, dead at the age of 90. Sold more records than The Beatles. #WCMF
— chuck gombatto (@gombatto) June 20, 2013
Rest in peace Slim Whitman, the first person I saw live as a young kid!!
— Alan Ball (@Bally703) June 20, 2013
Are you a fan of Slim Whitman? What’s your favorite song by the country music legend?
[Image via Wikimedia Commons]