Ian Whitcomb

Altadena, California
Updated 10/22/2012

Ian with his wife and singing partner, Regina

Ian Whitcomb has been entertaining the world for over 30 years. Hitting the American Top Ten charts in 1965 with his novelty record, "You Turn Me On" (an orgasmic panting song), he soon abandoned life as a British Invader (born in Surrey, England, in 1941) to devote himself to resurrecting the roots of pop music, especially Ragtime and the simple, heartfelt songs of turn-of-the-century Tin Pan Alley.


The result has been a steady flow of records, books, documentaries, radio shows, and concerts dedicated to this neglected music. He has performed everywhere, from the Hollywood Bowl and the Montreux Jazz Festival to shopping malls and private homes. Not only has he preserved such gems as "I Go So Far With Sophie On Sophie's Sofa" and "The War In Snider's Grocery Store", but he has also added to the library of sturdy songs with his own contributions such as "Wurzel Fudge--The Village Idiot" and even serious ballads. He has been allowed to perform on such TV shows as Johnny Carson's "Tonight Show"; he represented Ireland at the European Variety TV show contest (Ian is a graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, and The Father of Irish Rock); he was the original host of the longest running rock TV program in Britain, "The Old Grey Whistle Test".


Ian was a pioneer performer at the first Scott Joplin festivals in Sedalia and the West Coast Rag Festival in Fresno. He made many rag-style albums with Dick Zimmerman and took the music to the Montreux Jazz Festival in Switzerland. He is one of the stars of the documentary "They All Play Ragtime" and he wrote and starred in "Under The Ragtime Moon" ,a TV special based in his 1972 album. He has provided music for several movies including "The Cat's Meow" and "Stanley's Gig". The latest film, "His Mother's Lover" features four of his rags  Currently he has weekly radio shows  on XM satellite and Luxuriamusic.com. His many songbooks are published by Mel Bay and Alfred Music. He has made a CD called "I Love A Piano" with Adam Swanson and he has a 2 CD set containing all his rags  and other instrumentals called "Songs Without Words". Both of these are released on Bryan Wright's Rivermont Records label.


As an author, he is best known for his classic book on the history of pop music from rag to rock, entitled "After The Ball", still in print after a quarter of a century. He has published ten other books, including a biography of Irving Berlin, a memoir of his life in Los Angeles, and a novel set in Southern California.

Ian's latest book is "Letters From Lotusland--An Englishman In Exile" (Wild Shore Press). He has two new ukulele songbooks also: "Ukulele Jamboree!" (Mel Bay Publications) and "Ian Whitcomb's Ukulele Singalong" (Alfred Music).


Ian lives near Pasadena, California, with his singing wife, Regina, and his mongrel dog, Inspector. Fittingly, this animal was inherited from the late Rudy Vallee, the world's first star crooner--for Ian Whitcomb is the last in the line of such gentle, friendly song delineators. He doesn't only sing comedy songs, you see, he can jerk tears with such numbers as "Who Wants A Bad Little Boy?" Regina sings with Ian and also teaches and demonstrates vintage American dance. They both occasionally appear in movies - Ian in Contact and Regina in The Truman Show.


At this year's festival Ian and Regina be performing together. They will be accompanied by Adam Swanson and Frederick Hodges.