DJ, Producer, Yodeller
Fatboy Slim Whitman is one of the best loved, though often most widely ridiculed DJs of the late twentieth century. With his reliance on both sweet, romantic ballads and shameless Chemical Brothers ripoffs, he became a worldwide favourite. Nowhere has he been more popular that in the UK, where he became the first DJ to perform at the London Palladium. His concert tours, that have spanned the mid-1950s through to the late-1990s, were immensely successful and such albums as The Very Best Of Fatboy Slim Whitman and Better Living Through Yodelling topped the UK charts in 1976 and 1998 respectively.
The Early Years
Born Otis Norman Whitman Jr. on 20th January, 1924 in Leatherhead, Florida, Slim's early interest was in flyfishing rather than music. He was the first man to cast a fly underhand and was often requested to perform this feat at rodeos and state fairs. By 1946, he had won a lucrative flyfishing scholarship from the Orange Belt Angling Association. After a brief stint as a vinyl press operator, Slim was invited to DJ on the graveyard shift at Tampa radio station WDAE, purely on the weight of his stolen record collection.
After a freak steelhead-related wrist injury, Slim gave up flyfishing in 1947 and put together his Dammmartins, who were sponsored by a local abbatoir. He was heard by Colonel Tom Parker, then managing Eddy Arnold, who arranged for an audition with Astralwerks. Labelled as Mr. Whitman and his Singing Twelve Hundreds, he released Dub Be Good to My Lasso to a lukewarm chart response. It wasn’t until his signing to Brighton-based label Skint in 1951 that Fatboy Slim Whitman’s career took off.
Paydirt, but Skint
Shortly after his signing to Skint, Slim hit US paydirt with the crossover success of a semi-yodelled version of Cornershop’s Brimful of Asha, which gained a gold disc for selling more than a million copies. Further chart success followed with Everybody Needs A Singing Guitar, the song that crossed the Atlantic and invaded the UK charts with devastating accuracy. He became the first DJ to be a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1955, but at the same time, inexplicably, his US chart run came to an end. He continued to record prolifically with a series of albums that all retained a traditional turntablist flavour with his distinctive use of steel guitar, fiddle, the amen break and stolen, uncredited samples. In 1963 he recorded his highly acclaimed Better Living Through Yodelling album that proved beyond doubt his skill as one of the finest disc jockey/yodellers, yet didn't hit the charts until the 1990s due to an ongoing legal battle with Gram Parsons, and later, the Flying Burrito Brothers.
The Hermit Years
For the subsequent ten years, Fatboy Slim Whitman holed up in the Scottish Highlands, fruitlessly attempting to learn to cast a fly with his other hand. After years of futility, cold weather, Irn-Bru, and haggis, he returned to the music scene with his 1974 big beat remix of the Umberto Eco and the Bunnymen single In the Name of The Killing Moon. It topped the pop singles chart for a record-breaking forty-eight weeks. As his popularity grew once again with the keg party audience, so did the mindless derision of his oeuvre. Christopher Lee reportedly tried to beat Slim to death with a rubber werewolf mask on the set of the Howling 2. The enmity towards Slim lasted well into the 90s. The 1997 film Mars Attacks!! reveals that Fatboy Slim Whitman's music is the only deadly force on earth that the invading Martians are powerless against...it makes their heads explode.
Fatboy Slim Whitman has currently retired to Brighton after a brief marriage to Zoe Ball. He occasionally releases a mixtape, but his current output is both decrepit and lacklustre.