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|Also known as||Meri Wilson Edgmon|
June 15, 1949|
|Died||December 28, 2002
Americus, Georgia, U.S.
|Occupation(s)||Singer, songwriter, model|
She was born in Nagoya, Japan, at a United States military base, but raised in Marietta, Georgia. Her father played trumpet, her mother taught piano, and her siblings could all sing and play an instrument. At the age of two Meri began singing, learned piano, cello, and eventually the guitar and flute.
She went on to earn a BS in music at Indiana University's Jacobs School of Music, and later earned a master's degree in music education at Georgia State University. In the early 1970s, she moved to Dallas, Texas, where she sang and played guitar. Initially a guitar soloist, she later fronted a trio in such popular clubs as Daddy's Money, Arthur's, and Papillion.
After a car accident in 1975, she was forced to wear a body cast for months. After her recovery, she began performing at a club in Underground Atlanta and made ends meet by working as a model and singing for commercial jingles.
"Telephone Man" and success
While singing some jingles in the studio in early 1977, she caught the attention of former Bloodrock vocalist Jim Rutledge who introduced her to music producer Boomer Castleman. Wilson began recording for his BNA Records label and recorded a song, "Telephone Man", the story of a woman and her amorous adventures with her telephone technician, filled with suggestive lyrics and her breathy squealing voice. The song became a surprise hit single, climbing the UK Singles Chart to #6, spending ten weeks in the listings, as well as making it to #18 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100 chart.
It became a gold record, selling over one million copies in the U.S. alone. The song became a favorite on the "Dr. Demento Radio Show". "Telephone Man" and "Telephone Line", ELO's song, were back-to-back on the Hot 100's top 40 for two non-consecutive weeks in the summer of 1977.
On the strength of the song's hit, she rapidly put together an album of songs after quickly being signed with the GRT Records label and released her first and only album, First Take. Unfortunately, the album yielded no further hits, and after the novelty's appeal waned, she went back to singing jingles, modelling and song writing. She also continued to write more novelty songs, including "Peter The Meter Reader," "Dick The DJ", "Santa's Coming," and "My Valentine's Funny," but none of the songs matched the success of her first release.
After singing locally in Atlanta, Georgia for more than two decades and occasionally touring on novelty song circuits, in 1999 Meri Wilson released an updated version of "Telephone Man", called "Internet Man". It became a drive-time radio airplay song, which resulted in her getting a deal with Time-Warner Records.
Meri Wilson died in 2002, at the age of 53, after she lost control of her car on Georgia State Route 377 in Americus, Georgia, during an ice storm. Ansley Records released a self-titled album in 2002, which included all of her known recorded novelty songs.
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London, UK: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 606. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
- Joel Whitburn (1990). The Billboard Hot 100 Charts: The Seventies (23 July 1977 and 13 August 1977). Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research, Inc. ISBN 0-89820-076-8.
- Liner notes in Rhino Records' collection of 1970s hit singles, Have A Nice Day)
- Miller, Dave (December 30, 2002). "Pop star dies in wreck". WALB.com. p. E2. Retrieved December 18, 2012.
- "Meri Wilson". AllMusic. Retrieved September 29, 2016.