Donald's Encyclopedia of Popular Music

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WHITCOMB, Ian

(b 10 July 1941, Woking, Surrey, England) British-born popster and writer who had no hits at home but one top ten in the USA '65: 'You Turn Me On (Turn On Song)' by 'Ian Whitcomb and Bluesville', described as camp falsetto with semi-orgasmic panting, was dragged in by the British Invasion's cat. He settled in California, concentrating on the music of earlier eras. Treasures Of Tin Pan Alley, At The Ragtime Ball and Lotus Land were all albums on Audiophile, the latter a musical comedy with a 17-piece band conducted by film composer David Raksin and guest stars including Michael Feinstein. Let The Rest Of The World Go By by Ian Whitcomb and His Bungalow Boys introduced his new wife, vocalist Regina; old songs were joined by six of Whitcomb's new/old ones, and Roy Orbison's 'Oh, Pretty Woman' was done as an instrumental tango with accordion and violin, which sounds like fun. Steppin' Out and Happy Days Are Here Again were also on Audiophile; Don't Say Goodbye Miss Ragtime and My Wife Is Dancing Mad were on Stomp Off; Ian Whitcomb And His Merry Bands was a CD compilation on Stomp Off.

As a writer, Whitcomb's After The Ball: Pop Music From Rag To Rock '72 was described as offering 'sometimes naïve' analysis, but mentioned his own pop career; after Tin Pan Alley: A Pictorial History '75, Lotus Land: A Story Of Southern California '79, Whole Lotta Shakin': A Rock'n'Roll Scrapbook '82 (press clippings '55-65 from England), Rock Odyssey: A Chronicle Of The Sixties '83 no doubt mentioned his hit again. Irving Berlin And Ragtime America '87 began with a dream in which Irving called Ian on the phone to shoot the breeze; it informed us that Ian's favourite dish was tuna melt on sourdough and was apparently accompanied by an album called Ian Whitcomb's Ragtime America. He wrote in a book review in 1995 that the Original Dixieland Jazz Band (1916) was the only jazz group that ever made an impact on pop music: shed a tear for the ghosts of Louis Armstrong, Fats Waller, Benny Goodman, Stan Getz etc etc.