Ian Timothy Whitcomb (born 10 July 1941, in Woking Hospital, Woking, Surrey, England) is an entertainer, singer, songwriter, author, record producer, and actor. As part of the British Invasion, his hit song "You Turn Me On" reached number 8 on Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1965.
He has written several books on popular music, beginning with After the Ball, published by Penguin Books (Britain) and Simon & Schuster (United States) in 1972. He accompanies his singing by playing the ukulele and, through his records, concerts, and film work, has helped to stimulate the current revival of interest in the instrument. His recreation of the music played aboard the RMS Titanic in the film of that name won a Grammy Award in 1998 for package design and a nomination for Whitcomb's liner notes (Titanic: Music as Heard on the Fateful Voyage).
1 Early life,
2 Main career,
4 Selected discography
4.3 Compact discs,
8 External links,
Whitcomb's father, Pat, worked for his father's film company British Screen Classics in the 1920s, eventually co-starring in Mr. Nobody (released by Fox in 1929). His father was a schooled pianist and encouraged Whitcomb to play. Ian's younger brother, Robin, accompanied him on drums in their first bands, notably The Ragtime Suwanee Six (1960-62) whose manager was Denny Cordell, later to produce records by Procol Harum and Joe Cocker. Robin went on to play tambourine on Sonny & Cher's hit "I Got You Babe" (1965). Growing up, Whitcomb's chief musical inspirations were Phil Harris, Johnnie Ray, Guy Mitchell, Elvis Presley, and George Formby. He was sent away to boarding school in 1949 (Newlands, Seaford, Sussex) at age 8 and there he soon formed a tissue paper-and-comb band to entertain staff and boys with current hits such as "Riders in the Sky".
At Bryanston, a public school in Dorset, England, Whitcomb started a skiffle group in 1957 and then a rock and roll band in 1959. In the early 1960s, while studying history at Trinity College, Dublin, he became a founding member of Dublin's firstrhythm and blues band, Bluesville. Their second record release, "This Sporting Life", charted in the United States in 1965. Whitcomb's next single, "You Turn Me On" reached Billboard's number 8 spot in July 1965. During his summer vacation in 1965, Whitcomb went to America to appear on such television programs as Shindig, Hollywood A Go-Go and American Bandstand. Whitcomb played the Hollywood Bowl with The Beach Boys in 1965 and then toured with The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, and Sam the Sham and the Pharaohs.
"N-Nervous!" Whitcomb's next release, was recorded in Hollywood and reached Billboard's Top 50. He returned to Dublin for his history finals and received a B.A. degree. In 1966 he turned to early popular song: his version of a 1916 comedy number, "Where Did Robinson Crusoe Go with Friday on Saturday Night?" was a West Coast hit, reviving the ukulele before the emergence of Tiny Tim.
After making four albums for Tower Records and producing Mae West on her album called 'Great Balls of Fire for MGM Records in 1972, Whitcomb returned to the UK where he began his writing career with After the Ball. He later wrote Tin Pan Alley, A Pictorial History (1919-1939) and a novel, Lotusland: A Story of Southern California.
Returning to Hollywood, Whitcomb starred in and wrote L.A.-My Home Town (BBC TV; 1976) and Tin Pan Alley (PBS; 1974). He also provided the music for a documentary film, Bugs Bunny: Superstar (UA), which was narrated by Orson Welles. For Play-Rite Music he cut 18 piano rolls that were included in an album, Pianomelt. His other albums reflected his research into the genres of ragtime, Tin Pan Alley, vaudeville, and music hall. These, beginning with Under the Ragtime Moon (1972), were released on several record labels including Warner Bros. Records, United Artists, and Decca Records. During that time he also wrote and produced singles for Warner Bros.' country division, most notably "Hands", a massage parlour story, and "A Friend of a Friend of Mine".
In the 1980s Whitcomb published Rock Odyssey: A Chronicle of the Sixties: Ian Whitcomb, a memoir of the 1960s and described by The New York Times as the best personal account of this period. He also published Ragtime America (Limelight Editions, 1988), followed by a memoir of life as a British expatriate living in Los Angeles, Resident Alien (Century, 1990). He produced a British documentary on black music, Legends of Rhythm and Blues (part of the series Repercussions, made by Third Eye Productions for Channel Four in 1984). During this time he also hosted a radio show in Los Angeles for fifteen years, taking the program from KROQ-FM to KCRW and finally to KPCC-FM. His songs can he heard in the films Bloody Movie (1987), Cold Sassy Tree (1989), Encino Man (1992), Grass (1999), Man of the Century (1999), Stanley's Gig (2000), After the Storm (2001 film) (2001), The Cat's Meow (2002), Last Call (2002), Sleep Easy, Hutch Rimes (2002), Lonesome Jim (2005), and Fido (2006).
Whitcomb performs at music festivals throughout America. He continues to write, and he makes frequent guest appearances. He is a regular performer at Cantalini's Restaurant 1 in Playa del Rey, California.
Since 7 November 2007, Whitcomb has had an internet radio program on Wednesday evenings from 8:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m.(PST) at LuxuriaMusic.com. He signed with Premiere Radio Networks in September 2010 to launch The Ian Whitcomb Show on XM satellite radio, Channel 24.
Ian Whitcomb was named as a BEST OF L.A. in 2008 by Los Angeles magazine.
In 2009 Whitcomb wrote and, with his Bungalow Boys, performed original music for the West Coast Premiere of The Jazz Age, a play by Allan Knee, at the Blank Theater Company's 2nd Stage Theater in Los Angeles. For his work on The Jazz Age Whitcomb was nominated for an L.A. Theater Award.
Whitcomb lives in Southern California with his wife, Regina, their cat, Simon, and dog, Rollo.