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.”