Roger Whittaker, one of the UK’s most celebrated folk music singers, has died aged 87.
A family statement, reported by German media outlet Bild, confirmed he died on September 13 in a hospital in southern France.
Whittaker was best known for hits including Durham Town, New World In The Morning and a version of Wind Beneath My Wings – and being an expert whistler.
“Roger was an iconic artist, a wonderful husband and father. He touched so many hearts with his music throughout his life and will always live on in our memories,” the family statement said.
Born in Nairobi, Kenya in 1936 to English parents, Whittaker enrolled at university in South Africa after two years of national military service.
He arrived in Britain in 1959 to study zoology, biochemistry and marine biology at the University of Bangor in Wales, with his first major release, Steel Men, entering the British charts as he sat his final degree exams.
Whittaker went on to sell close to 50 million records and receive 250 platinum, gold and silver awards during his career, before retiring to France in 2012.
Germany afforded the artist particularly high levels of fame and reputation as he could sing and record his songs in German.
The great Roger Whittaker has passed away. I adored Durham Town and The Last Farewell. Beautiful, warm, catchy songs. I am glad I got to see him perform live.
— Matt Lucas HQ (@RealMattLucas) September 18, 2023
Tributes from across the English and German-speaking world were led by comedian and TV presenter Matt Lucas, who tweeted: “The great Roger Whittaker has passed away. I adored Durham Town and The Last Farewell.
“Beautiful, warm, catchy songs. I am glad I got to see him perform live.”
Whittaker leaves behind his wife Natalie, who he married in 1964, and their five children – Emily, Lauren, Jessica, Guy and Alexander.
He was cremated and buried in a private ceremony on Saturday, Bild said.