Folk singer Roger Whittaker, famous for his 1969 hit song Durham Town and expert whistling, has died at the age of 87.
His other hits included The Last Farewell and New World in the Morning, and he sold nearly 50 million records around the world, his website said.
A family statement, reported by German media outlet Bild, confirmed he died on September 13 in a hospital in southern France.
Whittaker was famed for hits including Durham Town, New World In The Morning and a version of Wind Beneath My Wings.
He went on to achieve great success in folk music clubs and saw further fame when he collaborated with Des O’Connor for the Skye Boat Song in 1986.
‘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.
Who was Roger Whittaker?
Roger Whittaker was born in Nairobi, Kenya in 1936 to English parents. His father had been medically advised to live in a warmer climate after suffering from serious injuries sustained in a motorcycling accident.
His father ran a successful grocery business while his mother was a teacher. Their children were raised by African nannies and before learning English, he spoke Swahili.
He 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.
Germany afforded the artist particularly high levels of fame and reputation as he could sing and record his songs in German.
His 1975 song The Last Farewell reached No 1 in 11 countries, and even Elvis Presley recorded a version of it.
In 1986, he published his autobiography with the help of his wife Natalie.
Roger Whittaker also played at George Bush Snr’s golden wedding anniversary party.
After a heart attack in 2006, he announced he would run a final tour in Germany in 2007.
He retired from singing in 2012 and lived with his wife in France.
Aside from playing his beloved music, Whittaker was a keen collector of antiques, and possessed 18th-century French furniture, silver spoons and insects dried in amber.
He appeared occasionally on television to be interviewed. In 2014, he told a reporter that despite his retirement, he had written 18 new songs and joked: ‘I still whistle very well’.
Roger Whittaker cause of death
Roger Whittaker’s website announced his death with a picture of the late musician, alongside his year of birth and death.
He died of a stroke at his home in France, it is understood.
When is Roger Whittaker funeral?
Roger Whittaker funeral will be in France next week with a memorial service in the UK to follow at a later date.
Roger Whittaker previously told exactly how he would like to be remembered after his death.
He said: “I’d like to be remembered as somebody who wrote some pretty good songs – the sort of songs that people will listen to again and again.
“Durham Town is in the British Folk Library now and I’m delighted with that.”