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Meri Wilson

Best-known for her saucy 1977 pop smash "Telephone Man," singer Meri Wilson was born June 15, 1949, in Nagoya, Japan. The product of a military family, she attended the Indiana University of Music before earning her master's degree in music theory from Georgia State University. After an automobile accident forced her to spend several months in a body cast, Wilson spent the downtime writing songs, and after recovering began performing at the Underground Atlanta club; when the owner of the Dallas restaurant chain Daddy's Money heard her perform, he was so impressed that asked her to relocate to his hometown, where she also appeared at dinner clubs including Arthur's and Papillion. At the same time, Wilson worked as a model and sang on a number of advertising jingles. She eventually caught the attention of former Bloodrock vocalist Jim Rutledge, who in turn introduced her to producer Owen "Boomer" Castleman. For Castleman's BNA label, Wilson recorded the self-penned novelty "Telephone Man," a double-entendre-rich tale of a woman...um, "serviced" by her AT&T technician; the single cracked the Billboard Top 20 in the U.S. and the Top Five in the U.K., going gold on both sides of the pond. It was also a staple of Dr. Demento's syndicated radio program. Wilson then signed to GRT to issue her debut album, First Take, but her attempts to follow "Telephone Man" with the like-minded "Peter the Meter Reader" and "Dick the DJ" went nowhere, and she ultimately retired to Americus, GA, to raise a family and teach choir. Apart from the seasonal novelty singles "Santa's Coming" and "My Valentine's Funny," Wilson did not return to recording until 1999, when she updated "Telephone Man" as "Internet Man." Drive-time radio airplay of the song resulted in a short-lived deal with the now-defunct Time Warner imprint Giant, and in 2002 Wilson issued a self-titled LP on the Ansley label. She died in an SUV accident on December 28 of that same year. ~ Jason Ankeny
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