Roger Whittaker (b. March 22, 1936) is a veteran, award-winning Kenyan-British singer-songwriter and guitarist with smooth baritone vocals who became internationally famous beginning in the late 1960s. He is best known in the U.S. for the epic romantic ballad, "The Last Farewell" (1975).
Born in Nairobi to English parents, Whittaker played the guitar as a child and spent two years in the Kenya Regiment after completing high school. While studying zoology, biochemistry and marine biology at Bangor University in Wales where he graduated in 1962 with a Bachelor of Science degree, he began performing at local clubs and soon after landed his first recording contract with Fontana Records before eventually signing with RCA. Over the years, Whittaker released a long string of mostly self-penned songs that became hits in many countries worldwide. His first charting song came in 1967 with his rendition of the "Fiddler On The Roof" tune, "If I Were A Rich Man," which became a Top 5 hit in the Netherlands. This smash was followed soon after by the feisty "Mexican Whistler" (1968), a top hit in both Australia and the Netherlands which showcases his virtuosic whistling skills. His first song to chart in the U.K. came in 1969 with "Durham Town (The Leavin')," a Top 20 hit which became one of his best known songs and, years later, made the Top 40 on the U.S. Adult Contemporary chart in 1976.
Roger Whittaker made his debut on the U.S. Pop/Rock and Adult Contemporary charts in 1970 with "New World In The Morning," a breezy, upbeat folk rocker with a short whistled introduction which made the Adult Contemporary Top 20. His hits on that chart continued with "I Don't Believe In If Anymore" (1970) and "Why?" (1971) before his fame took off in 1975 with "The Last Farewell," which topped the Adult Contemporary chart and made the Pop/Rock Top 40. "I Don't Believe In If Anymore" recharted in 1975, reaching the Top 10, and in addition to "Durham Town (The Leavin')" (1976), Whittaker's Adult Contemporary chart hits continued through the remainder of the 1970s with "The First Hello, The Last Goodbye" (1976), "Before She Breaks My Heart" (1977), "If I Knew Just What To Say" (1978), and "You Are My Miracle" (1979). He later resurfaced on the Country charts in 1983 with a cover of the Leon Payne-penned "I Love You Because." Other songs for which Whittaker is well known include "Albany" (1982), which topped the charts in West Germany, and his version of the Jeff Silbar/Larry Henley-penned "Wind Beneath My Wings" which is included on his same-named 1982 album.
Whittaker continued to tour and perform actively through 2013 and is a prolific recording artist with over 250 silver-, gold-, and platinum-certified singles and albums to date. His numerous honors and accolades include being awarded a Golden Tuning Fork (Goldene Stimmgabel in Germany) in 1986 and a Gold Badge Award from the British Academy of Songwriters, Composers and Authors (BASCA) in 1988.
- For more info about Roger Whittaker's life and career, visit rogerwhittaker.com.
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- The Last Farewell 1975
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