When Roger Whittaker moved into a house in the village where I lived in 2012 I certainly remembered the name. I remember watching a BBC documentary about him – I don’t remember exactly when; it could have been in the 1970s. I do remember that he came across well with a humble and appreciative nod to his success. Since then he has not really been on my radar – a name from the past who had an impact musically. The concept, however, of a celebrity moving into the area did arouse my curiosity.
I did what lots of us do I Googled him and subsequently YouTubed him. What I discovered really did surprise me.
I discovered that he was more famous in Germany, the rest of Europe and the US than the UK. I discovered an enormous and I really mean enormous amount of music. I discovered that he came out of retirement and went on to work well into his 70s particularly in Germany. Above all I discovered that I really liked his music, his voice his style and yes he whistles beautifully.
For those that don’t know of him – many will be too young to have been touched by his early performances here is a brief bio from his website, from Wikipedia and from his fans.
Roger Whittaker was born in Nairobi Kenya in 1936. He was drafted into the Kenya Regiment in 1956 to do his national service and subsequently studied at the University of Cape Town in South Africa and then the University of Bangor in South Wales. He left University in 1962 after a successful three years of study with a BSc degree. Whilst studying he had also been writing and singing in local clubs. His first single was “The Charge of the Light Brigade” but it was his second release “Steel Men” that was to be the first song to enter the British music charts.
He continued to pursue a career in music working initially in Ireland. He spent five years performing and gaining a reputation as a serious and talented performer. His early reputation was predominantly outside of the UK but in other parts of Europe. “Mexican Whistler” reached number ONE in three European countries and “If I Were a Rich Man” peaked at number TWO.
In the spring of 1964, Roger met Natalie O’Brien, and they married in August. They have five children: Emily, Lauren, Jessica, Guy and Alexander.
His career continued to flourish particularly in Europe, in the Nordic countries and German. He also toured in the US. His highest charting single in the UK was “The Last Farewell” which reached number TWO. Other chart successes have included “Durham Town (The Leavin)”, “New World in The Morning”, “I don’t Believe in If Anymore” and “The Skye Boat Song” the latter with Des O’Connor.
This is an extract from an article in the Guardian by Ann Giles
“I have loved Roger’s voice since I was 12. I used to feel that he’d get away with singing from the telephone directory, if necessary. Luckily he hasn’t had to resort to that. He writes his own songs, as well as recording many well-known songs from elsewhere. In the shops they call it easy listening, and as I skulk in HMV I feel vaguely ashamed. Thank God for internet shopping.
Roger Whittaker may have begun his career as an Elvis soundalike, but since becoming himself, he’s just got better and better. Forty-six years on he’s still singing, and his voice has got deeper and sexier with age. Some know Roger only as ‘the one who whistles’. He whistles beautifully – a skill learned in his childhood in Kenya. He sings in many languages, including Swahili, and I’ve even heard him tackle a Danish nursery rhyme.”
There is no need for me to write more here. Do what I did and turn to Google and YouTube – it surprised me in many ways.
I think Roger Whittaker really has retired now and I know he has found a great place to live. I wish that I still did too.