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John Wright

Elmo Tanner

Elmo was a singer, whistler, bandleader and disc jockey, but best known for his whistling efforts on the chart-topper “Heartaches” with the Ted Weems orchestra in the 1930’s and 40’s. He was born in Nashville and earned the nicknames “The Whistling Troubadour” and “The Nation’s Best-Known Whistler.”

In 1950, Tanner left Weems and opened a restaurant in Music City but the venture failed after a year and a half. He went on to form the Elmo Tanner Quartet and resumed touring for the next few years until, tired of travel, broke up the group in 1958. His next fourteen months were spent in Birmingham (AL) as a disc jockey. In 1959, after a brief reunion with Weems, he moved to St. Petersburg (FL) where he became a permanent member of the on-air staff at St. Pete Beach’s WILZ. In the early 60’s, he continued to make recordings with the Billy Vaughn and David Carroll orchestras and also sold Datsun automobiles at a local Tampa Bay car dealership. By 1969 though, he had retired.

Elmo passed away December 20, 1990 at his St. Pete home at the age of 86.

Station History

1959 - 1963 Other Tampa Bay Area Stations (On Air Personality)

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