top cx logo
cx logo
Explorearrow down
search icon
arrow down

Whistling folk singer Roger Whittaker dies at French home

The singer sold nearly 50 million albums worldwide. The 1969 song Durham Town is among his well-known hits

Roger Whittaker 1936 - 2023 Pic: INTERFOTO / Alamy Stock Photo

Roger Whittaker, well known for distinctive whistling ability and hit songs such as Durham Town, has died at his home in south-west France. He was 87.

Born in Nairobi (in British Kenya at the time) on March 22, 1936, Roger Whittaker achieved fame in the 1960s and went on to sell nearly 50 million albums worldwide before settling in Tarn-et-Garonne. He died at his home there on September 13, it was announced yesterday.

Known for his baritone voice, guitar skills and distinctive whistling ability, Mr Whittaker released his first single, The Charge of the Light Brigade, in 1962. However it was not until he began recording his own compositions, such as the 1969 hit Durham Town that he became well known in the UK.

His first US hit came in 1970 with New World in the Morning.

He toured extensively, travelling around the Nordic countries in the early 1970s and across the US for the first time in 1976.

However, it was in Germany that he had the most success, selling 10 million albums there. Indeed, he could sing in German before he could speak the language, learning his songs phonetically. 

He met his wife Nathalie in 1964. Together they had two sons and three daughters - and 11 grandchildren.

Following a final tour of Germany in 2007, Roger Whittaker settled with his wife in Montaigu-de-Quercy, Tarn-et-Garonne.

A joint statement on his website from the Whittaker family and Sony music announcing his passing, said:

“It is with great sadness that we share that our beloved Roger Whittaker passed away on the 13th, September 2023 he left us in peace in the presence of his family.

“During this difficult time we would like to thank everyone for their support and compassion. Roger was an iconic artist, a wonderful husband and father. 

“He touched so many hearts with his music during his lifetime and will always live on in our memories.

“The family requests privacy as we go through this time of grief and we thank you for your understanding.

“Roger will be greatly missed, his legacy will forever live on in our hearts and in his art.”

Read also

Interview with Ibrahim Maalouf: ‘I compose what comes from my heart’

10 French songs that have sparked debate over the years

Resident or second-home owner in France?
Benefit from our daily digest of headlines and how-to's to help you make the most of life in France
By joining the newsletter, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy
See more popular articles
The Connexion Help Guides
featured helpguide
Income Tax in France 2023 (for 2022 income)*
Featured Help Guide
- Primarily aimed at Britons, covers pensions, rent, ISAs, shares, savings and interest - but also contains significant general information pertinent to readers of other nationalities - Overview of online declarations + step-by-step guide to the French printed forms - Includes updates given automatically after this year's site opened
Get news, views and information from France