Lost or Forgotten Oldie of the Day: 1975 Roger Whittaker – The Last Farewell

Roger Whittaker was born in Nairobi, Kenya, to British parents. Members of his family were musicians, and Roger learned to play the guitar. He attended school in Kenya and then spent two years in military service.

He began studying to be a doctor, but abandoned that track after 18 months to pursue a career as a teacher. He moved to Britain in 1959 to study subjects related to teaching biology. He also began singing in clubs. He signed with Fontana Records in 1962 and began recording as Rog Whittaker.

Roger began signed with Columbia Records in 1966 and released records using Roger Whittaker. Roger finally released a hit record in 1969 when his recording of Durham Town reached #12 on the UK chart.

His next single, New World In The Morning, only reached #17 in the UK, but it also peaked at #12 on the US Adult Contemporary chart in 1970. That was the first song to showcase his whistling abilities.

Several more singles followed, but it took until 1975 for Roger to reach the Hot 100. In 1971, he was hosting a weekly radio show in the UK where he would sing songs backed by a full orchestra. Roger invited his listeners to send him poems they had written, and each week for 26 weeks he performed one poem using an arrangement by Zach Lawrence. One of the last poems he chose was The Last Farewell, and he also recorded the song for his next album with the Roland Shaw orchestra. The single did not do well.

In 1975, the wife of a radio station program director in Atlanta, Georgia, heard his recording while travelling in Canada. She insisted her husband to play the song on his station when she returned home, and audience response led to the re-release of the single. The Last Farewell peaked at #19 on the Hot 100. It also
topped the US AC chart. This led to a resurgence of airplay and sales worldwide, and the single soon reached #2 in the UK. The record eventually reached #1 in 11 countries and sold over 11 million copies, making it one of fewer than fifty records to sell over ten million physical copies.

Roger never reached the Hot 100 again, but had a string of hits on the US AC chart and charts in Canada, the UK, and Germany. I even recall seeing infomercials for collections of his songs on late-night television.

Roger recorded at least forty albums, including some foreign language albums. His record labels also released a lot of compilation albums. He has his own website at https://www.rogerwhittaker.com/


My books are on sale on Amazon (or free with Kindle Unlimited) and contain a lot more Lost or Forgotten Oldies. You can visit my author page to see them.

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