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Master Of Mellow Returns To Opera House

Fri., Sept. 15, 1995, midnight

The last time Roger Whittaker, the troubador of mellow, was booked into Spokane, he had to cancel due to back surgery.

He’s back this year, and so is his back.

“I’m the luckiest guy you’ll ever talk to,” boomed Whittaker, 59, by phone from a concert in Michigan. “The third surgeon who dealt with this back was absolutely brilliant. He pulled me out of it and fixed it, and now I’m able to play golf and fish and do whatever I want.”

And perform all around the globe, of course. He has done 85 shows since his back surgery and plans to continue with his regular 100-shows-a-year schedule.

Most Whittaker fans know what to expect from one of his shows: mellow versions of “The Last Farewell” (his only true U.S. chart hit), “New World in the Morning,” “Durham Town,” “I Don’t Believe in If Anymore” and “The Mexican Whistler.”

For this tour he is also doing songs from his album of Broadway hits (including “If I Were a Rich Man”) and from his album of movie soundtrack hits (including “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ On My Head”).

This tour’s special medley will be what Whittaker calls “a musical safari.”

“We go on musical safaris to various countries where interesting things happen, and I tell a little story and sing a song,” said Whittaker.

Whittaker is a natural for this sort of trip, since he is somewhat of a citizen of the world himself. He was born in Nairobi, Kenya, went to college in South Africa, transferred to college in Wales, began his singing career in Northern Ireland and now lives in the West Country of England.

Beyond that, he is an enormously popular singer in most parts of Europe. Of all the countries where he is popular, he is probably most popular in Germany, where he has made a series of German-language albums.

“I’ve sold 12 million albums in Germany in 10 years,” he said. “And I’ve just sold 200,000 double-CDs in Denmark, and in Denmark, that’s the equivalent of selling 4 million.”

He also regularly appears on French, German and Scandinavian TV.

All this is in addition to his popularity in Britain, Canada and the U.S. He said that just about the only place in the world where he is not recognized is in Japan or China. Asia is one market he has yet to tap.

Even his seven-piece band is international, including musicians from Canada, New Zealand and one other exotic musical nation called “Nashville.”

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Photo

MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: ROGER WHITTAKER Location and time: Opera House, Monday, 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $22.50 and $25

This sidebar appeared with the story: ROGER WHITTAKER Location and time: Opera House, Monday, 7:30 p.m. Tickets: $22.50 and $25

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