|Like most people of my generation I had never heard of the singer David Whitfield but then I moved to Hull as a student in 1988. Whitfield was born in Hull and by chance, one afternoon, my flatmates found an article on the back page of the local newspaper about a bust that had been commissioned by the 'David Whitfield appreciation society'. The article had got our attention because it had the former head of the sculpture department (Martin Woolveston) in the photograph. He had been commissioned to make it but the image was an old one from the newspaper's archive. The article was actually about something that had happened since the commission had been completed.|
The bust had been installed in the 'Harbour Masters Tavern' as the previous landlord had been a big fan. The current one, on the other hand, didn't give it the reverence the appreciation-society thought it deserved. The article went on to say.
" .......people had come from as far away as Lincoln to pay their respects only to find the bust wearing a trilby hat and scarf "
and, on another occasion. ..."A plastic skull, halloween mask”.
In the days before the internet, this newspaper article was the only information I had on David Whitefield. No matter how much I try to avoid it, I am a product of our contemporary, celebrity obsessed culture and as a consequence I found David Whitfield's apparent descent into obscurity fascinating. However, it was not until 1995, when I finally came across a 78 rpm record of 'Rudder and the Rock' at a car boot sale in Birmingham, that I heard him sing for the first time.
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photo Doug Atfield