He played left-handed

When Otis Whitman was a young man, he worked in an abattoir, and lost part of a finger in an accident. He had to learn to play the guitar left-handed because of the injury. Taking the stage name Slim Whitman, he became successful as a country singer, especially in England. He toured there often, and one night in the early 1950s he played a gig in Liverpool. Among the audience was a teenage boy by the name of Paul McCartney, who was left-handed. Seeing that Slim could play the guitar that way … well, you can fill in the dots.

slim whitmanOne of Whitman’s hits from this period was “North Wind”.  It is a little hard for an Australian to identify with the chill blast described in the song. Here, a north wind comes from the inland deserts, dry and hot and feared because in the wrong conditions it is a recipe for a bushfire. The hot northerly, when it is 43 degrees Celsius and the bush is dry from a drought – that is what we fear. But I’m sure an arctic blast from the Canadian tundra is terrifying in its own way. North and south. Like being left or right handed.

  • Artist: Slim Whitman
  • Title: North Wind
  • Format: 10” shellac disc, 78rpm
  • Label: London
  • Manufactured in: Australia
  • Year: 1954

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