London (dpa) – “Goodbye is a sharp sword that often cuts deep into the heart,” says one of Roger Whittaker’s greatest hits. “Sometimes even the best times come to an end.” The British singer and songwriter, who had the most loyal followers of him in Germany, retired from the public years ago.
He has now passed away at the age of 87. This was announced on Monday by Whittaker’s record label Sony Music to the German Press Agency. The newspaper “Bild” had already reported on this previously.
The man with the smooth baritone voice has released more than 25 albums in Germany. His specialty: catchy ballads and feel-good hits. Whittaker’s biggest hits include “Albany” (1981) and “The Last Farewell” (1971), which only became an international hit after a few years of delay. Many other artists, including Elvis Presley, later recorded Whittaker’s song.
Many songs in German.
Due to his popularity in Germany, the Briton recorded many songs in German. Since he didn’t really speak German, he resorted to phonetic transcription. However, the umlauts bothered him. “The worst German word is tenderness,” he joked in the “BamS” interview in 2012. “So purely phonetically, of course.” The British gentleman of German success was honored with the “platinum tuning fork” and the “crown of folk music” for his life’s work.
Anyone who grew up in the 1970s and 1980s heard Roger Whittaker’s music (some called it tearjerker) perhaps unintentionally from their parents or grandparents. He often appeared as a guest on the ZDF hit parade and other television entertainment programs. In the early ’80s he focused his style on German hits. In 1986 he sang: “I need a little aroma, a little Paloma, a little chichi today, Chérie!” In retrospect, the song developed a certain cult status as a party hit.
Roger Whittaker was born in Nairobi in 1936 to English immigrants when Kenya was a British colony. After military service, he dropped out of medical school and got a job as a teacher; he moved to Europe, where he studied in Wales. He financed this with appearances as a singer in clubs and pubs. Finally, the zoologist, marine biologist and biochemist by training decided to make music his career.
Roger Whittaker only found his style after a few years. The first single, “The Charge Of The Light Brigade,” from 1962, was a bombastic country number. The completely whistled instrumental piece “Mexican Whistler” became his first hit in Britain in 1967. Two years later it was his breakthrough with the ballad “Durham Town.” Songs like “The Last Farewell” or “Indian Lady” soon made Roger Whittaker popular in other countries. His most famous admirer was former US President George HW Bush, who invited him to his home and sang Whittaker at his golden wedding anniversary.
Like the kind gentleman next door
Whittaker never seemed like a pop star. With his Henriquatre beard, his jacket, his glasses and his hair, which has turned gray since the 80s, he looked like the kind man next door. This friendly and authentic image matched his music. By the way, the beard had a practical purpose. “Early in my career I saw myself on television and thought, this face won’t work,” Whittaker told the Daily Express in 2014. “So I grew the beard I had at university.”
Whittaker, who most recently lived in the south of France, also lived up to her friendly, no-nonsense image in her private life. This family man and dog lover has been married since 1964 to his wife Natalie, who later also became his manager. He leaves five children, several grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
“Bacon nerd. Extreme zombie scholar. Hipster-friendly alcohol fanatic. Subtly charming problem solver. Introvert.”