Arts and Culture

‘Dirty Old Town’ singer Roger Whittaker dies aged 87

Roger Whittaker, the folk singer whose hits included ‘Dirty Old Town,’ a song about Salford, died on Wednesday in southern France.

Whittaker was cremated and buried last Sunday in a small ceremony, according to Germany’s Bild newspaper.

The 87-year-old died in hospital after a stroke, surrounded by his wife Natalie, 81, and his children.

In a statement posted to Whittaker’s German fan page on Facebook, the Whittaker family said: “Roger was an iconic artist, a wonderful husband and father.

“We will miss Roger greatly, [but] his legacy will live on forever in our hearts and in his art.”

The Kenyan-born artist enjoyed international success with his music.

The Last Farewell reached the US Billboard Top 20 in 1975, and peaked at 2 in the UK, whilst his compositions Durham Town (The Leavin’) and I Don’t Believe in if Anymore reached 12 and eight on the UK charts respectively.

Other hits well-known by UK audiences include his version of Wind Beneath My Wings, and his 1986 duet with Des O’Connor, The Skye Boat Song, which showcased his distinctive whistling skills.

Whittaker achieved most success in Germany, however, where his fan base was large and loyal until his retirement in 2013.

Recording many songs in German, his language skill never progressed beyond the basics.

Whittaker had long been suffering from health problems, with his heart, blocked arteries and aneurisms causing particular problems.

He is survived by his wife and five children.

Photo: Hannu Lindroos / Helsingin Sanomat, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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