Renowned folk singer Roger Whittaker, celebrated for his iconic 1969 hit “Durham Town” and his exceptional whistling talent, has passed away at the age of 87.
Throughout his illustrious career, Whittaker produced a string of chart-topping hits, including “The Last Farewell” and “New World in the Morning,” amassing a staggering 50 million records in global sales, as confirmed by his official website.
Whittaker’s journey to stardom commenced in the intimate setting of folk clubs, eventually leading him to memorable collaborations such as the 1986 duet “Skye Boat Song” with Des O’Connor.
What set him apart was his ability to sing in multiple languages, including German and French, which broadened his appeal, particularly in Germany, where he enjoyed immense popularity.
Born in Nairobi, Kenya, in 1936, Whittaker’s roots traced back to Staffordshire, England, through his parents.
After completing national service in Kenya, he initially pursued a career in medicine. However, his passion for music led him to local clubs where he both performed and penned his own compositions.
His medical studies were cut short after 18 months when he transitioned into teaching. In 1959, he relocated to the University of Bangor in Wales to acquire a teaching qualification.
During his time at the university, he crafted songs for the university’s Rag Week and submitted a demo track to a music publisher.
This pivotal moment catapulted him back into the recording studio, resulting in his debut single, “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” according to his biography. “Steel Men,” his subsequent release, gained airplay while he was still a student, marking the beginning of his flourishing career, complete with television appearances.
In 2012, Whittaker retired alongside his wife, Natalie, residing in France, where they enjoyed their well-deserved retirement.