Anyone who grew up in the 1970s and 80s may have listened intently to Roger Whittaker’s music. His songs were sung with his parents or grandparents. The British singer with a soft baritone voice has often been a guest on ZDF hit parades and other TV shows. Good hits and catchy ballads – some say: Schnulsen – were his strengths. He will turn 85 on March 22.
“Farewell is a sharp sword that often sinks deep into your heart,” he says of one of his greatest hits. “After the best time, oh. Oh.” So years ago Whittaker withdrew from the public eye. “Unfortunately, Roger is completely retired and no longer giving interviews,” his agent wrote in response to a request from the German press agency.
The musical career of a trained zoologist, marine biologist and biochemist accelerated in the early 1960s. The son of an English immigrant was born in Nairobi in 1936, then a British colony in Kenya. After completing his military service, Whitaker dropped out of medical school in Cape Town and moved to Europe on a temporary job as a teacher in Nairobi. He graduated with a degree in science in Wales and completed his second degree.
He funded his studies by appearing as a singer in clubs and pubs and composing his own songs throughout the year. So one thing led to another. In 1962, he recorded his first single, The Charge of Light Brigade. It was not until the late 1960s that the musician invented his own style, which celebrated its success around the world.
Whittaker argues that beard growth also played a role. “Early in my career I saw myself on television and thought: It’s not going to work with this face,” he told the Daily Express years ago. “So I was allowed to grow the beard I had at university.” Yet he is never seen as a pop star. With the gray 80s Henriquatre beard, jacket, glasses, and hair, he looked like a friendly gentleman next door – a sympathetic and authentic image that matched his music.
The first fully whistled instrumental track, “Mexican Whistler”, was his first success in the UK in 1967. The ballad “Durham Town” marked two years of great progress. Songs like “The Last Farewell” or “Indian Lady” soon made Roger Whittaker popular in other countries. His biggest fan is former US President George HW Bush. He was invited to the golden wedding anniversary and sang.
It was only four years after the release of “The Last Farewell”, one of Whittaker’s best hits. The song became a huge hit on American radio and in Europe in 1975 after reaching the US Top-20. It peaked at number two on the charts in the UK, shortly after Stuart’s “sailing” on the road. Elvis Presley later recorded “Farewell”.
As a young man in Nairobi, Whitaker’s music resonated with African influences. “Everything I write and sing has had a major impact on the wonderful drumming and wonderful and contagious rhythms,” Whitaker said on his website.
He had one of his most loyal fans in Germany. That is why many songs were recorded in German with the help of phonetic transcription. “The worst German word is tenderness,” the lyricist scoffed at in a 2012 “Bams” interview. “So phonologically, of course.” His greatest hits include “Albany” and “Absolute East Ein Sharp Wall” by composer and producer Claus Monroe.
From the ’80s, Whitaker’s style changed to German slogger – between the flippers and Howard Carpendale for stylistic. In 1986, he sang: “A little bit of a sense of humor, a little bit of Paloma, the chichi I need today, Chari!” Whitaker has released more than 25 albums in Germany. The British gentleman of the German hit song was honored with a “Platinum Tuning Fork” and a “Crown of Folk Music” for his career.
Roger Whittaker also lived privately for his friendly image. The family man and dog lover have been married to wife Natalie since 1964 and later became a manager. The couple has five children and several grandchildren and great-grandchildren. After living in Ireland for a long time, the Whitteachers moved to the south of France in 2012 – due to the hot weather, of course.
Sender: APA / dpa