||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (February 2011)|
Whittaker in 1976
22 March 1936 |
Nairobi, British Kenya
|Occupation(s)||Musician, singer-songwriter, teacher|
|Instruments||Guitar, puccalo, vocals|
Roger Whittaker (born 22 March 1936) is a Kenyan/British singer-songwriter and musician, who was born in Nairobi. 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.
Childhood and beginning
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
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.
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" 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, 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".
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.
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".
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.
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 and earned a "Golden Tuning Fork" (Goldene Stimmgabel in Germany) in 1986, based on record sales and TV viewer votes.
|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|
|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|
|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|
|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|
|1985||"Leben mit dir"||16|
|1986||"The Skye Boat Song"(with Des O'Connor)||10||96|
|"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|
|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|
European albums (selected)
- 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
- 1973 Roger Whittaker En Spectacle Au Quebec - RCA
- 1975 Roger Whittaker Live In Canada - Tembo
|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|
|When I Need You||1979|
|Mirrors of My Mind||RCA||1979|
|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|
- Whittaker, Roger. "About Roger Whittaker". CMT Artists. Retrieved 23 December 2013.
- "Roger Whittaker-Biography". Cmt.com. 22 March 1936. Retrieved 18 November 2011.
- "IMDb page on Roger Whittaker". IMDb.com. Retrieved 29 September 2014.
- "September 2012 Newsletter". The Official Roger Whittaker Website.
- [dead link]
- Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 600. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.