Friday, October 31, 2008

Autographs, Van McCoy, and Slim Whitman

The recent brouhaha about Ringo Starr's refusal to accept requests for autographs after October 20, 2008 caused me to think about the autographs that I've gotten over my lifetime.

As it turns out, I've only requested autographs twice, and at this point I have no idea where the autographs are. But I still remember how the autographs were collected.

For the first story, we have to go back to my junior high school days in the mid 1970s, when Glenn Kipps (I think this may be Glenn, by the way, but I'm not a member so I don't know) ran around saying that Van McCoy was his brother. Such bragging is usually suspect in junior high, and the fact that Glenn Kipps was a white boy did not necessarily help with his credibility.

However, Glenn was the younger brother of Charles Kipps, probably most famous as the writer of David Ruffin's song "Walk Away From Love." Well, Charles Kipps was also a partner of Van McCoy in McCoy/Kipps Productions, and apparently McCoy was close with the Kipps family, so the next thing you know, there's Mr. "Do the Hustle" in our junior high band class, saying that yes, Glenn Kipps was his brother. I got McCoy's autograph that day, took it home, and pinned it on my bulletin board. Sadly, McCoy died a few years later.

After Van McCoy's death, I was in college when the Slim Whitman revival occurred in the early 1980s. Whitman, whose peak years of fame were in the 1950s, enjoyed a resurgence, partially due to attention from Johnny Carson. As a result, I was there in Portland, Oregon when Slim Whitman appeared for his legion of new fans.

And Whitman didn't disappoint. Not only did he sing with his distinctive voice, but he also took great effort to put on a show, parts of which were centered on a supposed competition between Whitman and his sex symbol son, Byron Whitman. Byron wasn't about to give John Travolta a run for his money, but compared to his balding father Byron certainly was a sex symbol.

After the show was over, Whitman appeared on the side of the stage and patiently signed autographs for everyone who wanted one. A true class entertainer.

By the way, unlike McCoy, Whitman is still alive. Or at least he was alive as of January 2008.

Every decade or so, something comes up to give him a little name recognition, he said.

In 1996, Indian Love Call was used in the climax of the movie Mars Attacks to fend off the invasion.

"I'm the one who killed the blasted Martians," he said.

But it's time for some videos. Here's Giorgio Moroder and others talking about the Hustle.

And here's Slim Whitman scaring the Martians away.

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