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Tributes are being paid across Germany to singer Roger Whittaker, described as the country’s favorite Brit who served his largest and most loyal fans by singing in their language.

Whittaker, whose death at age 87 was announced Monday, admitted to never learning to speak the language but became one of Germany’s most prolific artists by having his translated lyrics transcribed phonetically and taking lessons for giving the impression that he meant what he sang. .

He re-recorded his best-selling single, 1971’s The Last Farewell (also covered by Elvis Presley) in German as Du Warst Mein Schönster Traum (You Were My Most Beautiful Dream) and its meteoric success carried him into the following decades during which he continued to make recordings in the language.

His biggest hit in Germany was Abschied ist ein Scharfes Schwert (Separation is a Sharp Sword) in 1984. A 41-concert tour of West Germany in 1977, when he was the country’s best-selling artist , had already assured its home status. and ensured that everyone growing up during that era heard his music, often because their parents and grandparents played it.

Some German music critics found it difficult to understand its popularity. A tour critic for Der Spiegel magazine described the crooner as “having the diligence and charisma of an accountant”, as a “well-mannered handyman” who was “a magnet for widows looking for someone to repair the garden hose.

But the critic reluctantly admits that the key to the success of the “cuddly, crushable baritone” in Germany lies in his ability to “express precisely through song what the silent majority thinks.”

The magazine also points out that “at home, in England, he is not as popular.”

“My relationship with German fans is great,” Whittaker told his audience toward the end of his career, after releasing 25 albums in the country, being a regular on the ZDF-Hitparade TV show, receiving numerous awards and organized his farewell tour. there in 2013.

He said he had to train his lip muscles to master diaeresiss, the dots placed on vowels that change their sound. “If you weren’t born in Germany, you simply don’t have the muscles to make the sounds Ä, Ö And Ü” he said, describing the word zärtlichkeit or tenderness (pronounced “zerrt-lick-kite”) as “the worst word in the German language – but only phonetically of course”.

In an obituary in Die Zeit, Jens Balzer, a German pop music journalist, said the Germans had crowned him not only their favorite baritone singer, but also “their favorite Englishman.”

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He added: “A whole generation saw him as the ideal English gentleman. A pleasant middle-aged man, always well dressed, a little country with his cords and his brown jacket… his Henri quatre beard; a confident, utterly calm singer whose baritone voice can never be fazed by even the worst love songs.

In an interview, Whittaker said he “showed a bird” to Horst Schmolzi, a German music director, when he first suggested she sing in German. “He told me: ‘We’re going to make an album with your hits in German. People want to know what you actually sing. That’s how we ended up creating the album Mein Deutsches in 1980, and we sold millions of copies,” he recalls.

He described his latest album, Wunder, released in 2012, as a tribute to his German fans.