Roger Whittaker

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Roger Whittaker
Roger Whittaker
Whittaker in 1976
Background information
Born (1936-03-22) 22 March 1936 (age 79)
Nairobi, British Kenya
Genres Pop
Occupation(s) Musician, singer-songwriter, teacher
Instruments Guitar, puccalo, vocals
Years active 1962–present

Roger Whittaker (born 22 March 1936) is a Kenyan/British singer-songwriter and musician, who was born in Nairobi.[1] His music is an eclectic mix of folk music and popular songs in addition to radio airplay hits. He is best known for his baritone singing voice and trademark whistling ability as well as his guitar skills. He is widely known for "Durham Town (The Leavin')" (1969) and "I Don't Believe in 'If' Anymore" (1970). American audiences are most familiar with his 1970 hit "New World in the Morning" and his 1975 hit "The Last Farewell", the latter of which is his only single to hit the Billboard Hot 100 (it made the Top 20) and also hit No. 1 on the Adult Contemporary chart. His final top-charting hit was "Albany", which scored No. 1 in West Germany in 1982.[2]

Childhood and beginning[edit]

Whittaker's parents, Edward (Ted) and Viola (Vi) Whittaker, were from Staffordshire, England, where they owned and operated a grocery shop. His father was injured in a motorcycle accident and the family moved to a farm near Thika, Kenya, because of its warmer climate. His grandfather sang in various clubs and his father played the violin. Roger learned to play the guitar.

Whittaker was called up for national service and spent two years in the Kenya Regiment. In 1956 he was demobilized and decided on a career in medicine. He enrolled at the University of Cape Town in South Africa. However, he left after 18 months and joined the civil service education department as a teacher, following in his mother's footsteps.

Recording and performing career[edit]

To further his teaching career, Whittaker moved to Britain in September 1959. For the next three years, he studied zoology, biochemistry and marine biology at Bangor University and earned a Bachelor of Science degree. He sang in local clubs and released songs on Flexi discs included with the campus newspaper, the Bangor University Rag. Shortly afterwards, he was signed to Fontana Records, which released his first professional single, "The Charge of the Light Brigade", in 1962. During this early part of his career, he was billed as Rog Whittaker.

In the summer of 1962, Whittaker performed in Portrush, Northern Ireland. He achieved a breakthrough when he was signed to appear on an Ulster Television show called This and That. His second single was a cover version of "Steel Men", released in June 1962.

In the spring of 1964, Roger met Natalie O'Brien, and they married in August. They have five children: Emily (b. 28 May 1968), Lauren (b. 4 June 1970), Jessica (b. 14 February 1973), Guy (b. 15 November 1974) and Alexander (b. 7 April 1978). They now have nine grandchildren.[citation needed]

In 1966, Whittaker switched from Fontana to EMI's Columbia label, and was billed as Roger Whittaker from this point forward. His fourth single for the imprint was "Durham Town (The Leavin')", which in 1969 became Whittaker's first UK Top 20 hit. Whittaker's US label, RCA Victor, released the uptempo "New World in the Morning" in 1970, where it became a Top 20 hit in Billboard magazine's Easy Listening chart.

In the early 1970s Whittaker took interest in the Nordic countries when he recorded the single "Where the Angels Tread (Änglagård)" to the music of Evert Taube in 1972. In 1974 he performed at the Finnish Eurovision qualifications. The song "The Finnish Whistler" he performed became famous in Finland as it was used as a title music for the popular Finnish YLE television cooking programme "Patakakkonen".

1975 saw EMI release "The Last Farewell", a track from his 1971 New World in the Morning album. It became his biggest hit and a signature song, selling more than 11 million copies worldwide. In 1979, Whittaker wrote the song "Call My Name" which reached the final of the UK Eurovision selection, A Song For Europe, performed by Eleanor Keenan and coming third. Whittaker recorded the song himself and the single charted in several European countries. Whittaker also established himself in country music with "I Love You Because" getting "into the lower reaches of the country chart"[3] in late 1983.

Throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Whittaker had success in Germany, with German language songs produced by Nick Munro. Unable to speak German, Whittaker sang the songs phonetically. He appeared on German and Danish TV several times,[4] and was on the UK Top of the Pops show 10 times in the early to mid-1970s.

In 1986, he published his autobiography, So Far, So Good, co-written with his wife.

In March 2006, Whittaker announced on his website that a 2007 Germany tour would be his last, and that he will limit future performances to "occasional concerts". Now more fluent in German, he was seen singing and was interviewed in German on Danish TV in November 2008. In a 2014 interview Whittaker reiterated that he had retired from touring in 2013, but claimed that he had written 18 new songs for an album and said "I still whistle very well".[5]

Personal life[edit]

Before moving on to a career in music, Whittaker studied medicine and trained as a teacher in his native Kenya. He also completed his National Service in the Kenya Regiment. He claimed that he was "stupid, selfish and angry" in his youth and that the army "made a man" out of him.[6]

On April 1, 1989, Whittaker's parents (still living in Kenya) were subjected to a brutal attack by a gang of four men in which his mother, Vivian, was tortured for eight hours and his father, Edward, was murdered. Whittaker subsequently had his mother moved to London after the incident. Roger Whittaker said about the incident, "It will affect me for the rest of my life, but I believe we should all live without hate if we can".[7][8]

In 1964, Whittaker married his Irish wife Natalie. She has been Whittaker's manager since 1989. They have two sons and three daughters (Emily, Lauren, Jessica, Guy and Alexander), including daughter Jessica Whittaker, who would become a presenter on VH-1. He also has 11 grandchildren.[9][10]

In recent years he had been living in Eyrecourt, County Galway, Ireland, close to the River Shannon and moved to France in 2012.[11]He is a neighbor of actor Windsor Davies.[12]


In 1976, Whittaker undertook his first tour of the United States. In 2003, he again toured Germany. After recovering from heart problems at the end of 2004, he started touring in Germany in 2005, and then in UK from May to July.


In his career to date, Whittaker has earned over 250 silver, gold and platinum albums. He was part of a successful British team that won the annual Knokke Music Festival in Belgium, and won the Press Prize as the personality of the festival. He was awarded a 'Gold Badge Award', from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA) in 1988[13] and earned a "Golden Tuning Fork" (Goldene Stimmgabel in Germany) in 1986, based on record sales and TV viewer votes.



Year Single Chart positions
UK[14] DE US
1968 "Mexican Whistler" 29
1969 "Durham Town (The Leavin')" 12 80
1970 "New World in the Morning" 12 17 85
"I Don't Believe in 'If' Anymore" 26 8
1971 "Why?" 40 47
"Mamy Blue" 31 53
1975 "The Last Farewell" 19 1 2 19 3
"I Don't Believe in 'If' Anymore" (re-entry) 10 50
1976 "Durham Town (The Leavin')" (re-entry) 23
"The First Hello, the Last Goodbye" 16 100
"River Lady (A Little Goodbye)" 2
"Das alte Schiff (River Lady)" 10
"Indian Lady" 14
1977 "Before She Breaks My Heart" 39
"From the People, to the People" 46
1978 "If I Knew Just What to Say" 47
"Love Lasts Forever" 50
1979 "You Are My Miracle" 35
1979 "Goodbye, 1st Goodbye" 40
1982 "Albany" 3
1983 "I Love You Because" 91
"Wenn es Dich noch gibt" 8
"Tanz heut Nacht mit mir" 20
1984 "Abschied ist ein scharfes Schwert" 9
"Eloisa" 27
1985 "Leben mit dir" 16
1986 "The Skye Boat Song"(with Des O'Connor) 10 96
"Fernweh" 50
"Ein bisschen Aroma" 38
1989 "Bleib' heut' Nacht bei mir" 41
1990 "Schön war die Zeit" 52
"Was ist dabei, wenn wir zwei uns lieben" (with Cindy Berger) 48
1991 "7 Jahre, 7 Meere" 46
"Doch tanzen will ich nur mit Dir allein" 76
"Sag' ihr" 50
1992 "Du wirst alle Jahre schöner" 31
1993 "Tauch hinab in die Nacht" 72
"Bring mir noch einmal die Jahre zurück" 94
1996 "Wir sind jung (Oh Maria)" 58
1997 "Du kannst zaubern" 97
1999 "Alles Roger" 98

European albums (selected)[edit]

  • 1967 If I Were A Rich Man (as 'Rog Whittaker')
  • 1967 Mexican Whistler - The Dynamic Roger Whittaker
  • 1968 Whistle Stop!
  • 1969 This Is Roger Whittaker
  • 1970 I Don't Believe In If Anymore
  • 1970 Whistling Roger Whittaker
  • 1971 New World in the Morning
  • 1972 Roger Whittaker... Again
  • 1972 Loose And Fiery
  • 1979 Mein deutsches Album (in German)
  • 1981 Zum Weinen ist immer noch Zeit
  • 1982 Typisch Roger Whittaker
  • 1983 Voyager
  • 1984 Ein Glück, daß es Dich gibt
  • 1987 His Finest Collection
  • 1987 Heut bin ich arm – Heut bin ich reich
  • 1991 Frohe Weinacht – Die schönsten Weihnachtslieder
  • 1991 Mein Herz schlägt nur für Dich
  • 1992 Stimme des Herzens
  • 1993 Stille Nacht, heilige Nacht
  • 1994 An Evening With Roger Whittaker
  • 1994 Leben mit Dir
  • 1994 Sehnsucht nach Liebe
  • 1994 Geschenk des Himmels
  • 1995 Ein schöner Tag mit Dir
  • 1996 Alles Roger!
  • 1996 Einfach leben
  • 1997 Zurück zur Liebe
  • 1999 Alles Roger 2
  • 1999 Awakening
  • 2000 Wunderbar geborgen
  • 2002 Mehr denn je
  • 2003 Alles Roger 3
  • 2003 Der weihnachtliche Liedermarkt
  • 2004 Live in Berlin
  • 2004 Mein schönster Traum
  • 2005 Moments in My Life
  • 2007 The Danish collection

Canadian albums[edit]

  • 1973 Roger Whittaker En Spectacle Au Quebec - RCA
  • 1975 Roger Whittaker Live In Canada - Tembo

US albums[edit]

Album Label Date
Christmas Songs Capitol
Best Ballads #1
Genius of Love RCA
New World in the Morning Columbia Collectables 1971
Special Kind of Man Pair 1971
The Last Farewell & Other Hits RCA Records 1974
Magical World of Roger Whittaker RCA Records 1975
Reflections of Love RCA Records 1976
In Concert – Recorded with the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra DVD 1976
The Best of Roger Whittaker RCA 1977
Folk Songs of Our Time RCA 1977
The Roger Whittaker Christmas Album RCA 1978
Imagine RCA 1978
Evergreens 1979
When I Need You 1979
Mirrors of My Mind RCA 1979
With Love 1980
Voyager RCA 1980
Live in Concert RCA Records 1981
The Wind Beneath My Wings RCA Records 1982
Take a Little: Give a Little RCA 1984
Tidings of Comfort & Joy Liberty 1984
All Time Heart Touching Favorites 1984
The Best of Roger Whittaker RCA 1984
Fire & Rain Pair 1985
Living & Loving Liberty 1988
The World of Roger Whittaker Pair 1988
I'd Fall in Love Tonight Liberty 1989
Love Will Be Our Home Word/Epic 1989
World's Most Beautiful Christmas Songs Liberty 1989
All Time Heart Touching Favorites, Vol. 1 Liberty 23 April 1990
All Time Heart Touching Favorites, Vol. 2 Liberty 21 May 1990
Best Loved Ballads, Vol. 2 Liberty 4 June 1990
Best Loved Ballads, Vol. 1 Liberty 4 June 1990
Golden Tones Pair 25 October 1990
You Deserve the Best Capitol/EMI Records January 1991
Country Collection Liberty 29 April 1991
Classics Collection, Vol. 1 Liberty August 1991
The Wind Beneath My Wings & Other Hits RCA Records December 1991
I Wish You a Merry Christmas January 1992
All-Time Favorites EMI-Capitol Special Markets January 1992
Greatest Hits Live K-Tel January 1992
Classics Collection, Vol. 2 Liberty January 1992
All About Love Liberty 27 April 1992
Collection 30 June 1992
Christmas With Roger Whittaker RCA Victor 14 September 1992
Celebration RCA Victor 1 January 1993
The Best of Roger Whittaker EMI-Capitol Special Markets 1 January 1993
Live Drive – (import) 7 December 1993
Greatest Hits RCA Records 1 January 1994
Feelings RCA Victor 15 February 1994
Danny Boy RCA Victor 15 February 1994
What a Wonderful World RCA Victor 12 April 1994
Annie's Song RCA Victor 12 April 1994
Live! RCA Victor 12 April 1994
The Best of Roger Whittaker Curb Records 31 May 1994
I Will Always Love You RCA Victor 16 August 1994
The Christmas Song RCA Victor 15 August 1995
All Time Favorites Prime Cuts 1 January 1995
Sincerely Yours 11 August 1995
On Broadway RCA Victor 1 October 1995
The World of Roger Whittaker Universal International January 1996
A Perfect Day RCA Victor 17 September 1996
Einfach Leben BMG/Ariola 3 October 1996
Star Gold Polygram France 9 May 1997
Happy Holidays BMG Special Products 23 September 1997
New World in the Morning: The Encore Collection BMG Special Products 18 November 1997
Irish Standards BMG Special Products 14 April 1998
The Best of Roger Whittaker Pegasus/Cleopatra 20 October 1998
All of My Life: The Very Best of Roger Whittaker Camden 1 January 1999
The Greatest Hits of Roger Whittaker Prism January 1999
In Concert Charly 1 July 1999
Awakening RCA Victor 10 August 1999
The Best of Roger Whittaker Time/Life Music 17 December 1999
The Last Farewell...Live Legacy Entertainment January 2001
The Very Best of Roger Whittaker, Vol. 2 Polygram International 28 August 2001
The Holly and the Ivy BMG Special Products April 2002
Best of: Original Hits Paradiso 23 April 2002
Songs for You: The Collection Universal International 17 September 2002
New World in the Morning Collectables January 2003
All of My Life: Very Best of BMG International 20 July 2004
Moments in My Life BMG/Ariola 6 May 2005
An Evening With Prism Platinum 7 June 2005
Now and Then: Greatest Hits 1964–2004 BMG International 11 October 2005


External links[edit]