Ian Whitcomb (July 10, 1941 - April 19 2020) was an English pop singer-songwriter and veteran all-around entertainer with distinctive falsetto vocals and a comedic flair who became famous in the U.S. during the mid 1960s along with other British Invasion acts. He is best known for the ribald, over-the-top rock & roll parody, "You Turn Me On (Turn On Song)" (1965).
Born in Woking, Surrey, England, Whitcomb played the piano as a child and formed his first band at age 8 in which the members performed on homemade tissue paper-and-comb instruments. While still in his teens, he began writing songs and performing in the Surrey area. During the early 1960s, while attending Trinity College in Dublin, Ireland, Whitcomb co-founded Bluesville and served as the band's lead singer. He made his first recordings on Jerden Records before signing with the Tower label while travelling back and forth between the U.S. and Dublin and juggling his music and college careers. During the summer of 1965, he appeared on such then-popular TV shows as "Hollywood A Go-Go," "Shindig!" and "American Bandstand." He also performed that summer at the Hollywood Bowl with The Beach Boys before touring with The Rolling Stones, The Kinks, and other top bands. Whitcomb then returned to Trinity College for his finals and received his BA in history.
Whitcomb made his debut on the U.S. charts in early 1965 while still in college with the bluesy "This Sporting Life." His fame took off later that year with the self-penned "You Turn Me On (Turn On Song)" (1965, credited to Ian Whitcomb & Bluesville), which became a Top 10 hit in the U.S. and made the Canadian charts Top 40. This smash, which was covered by Mae West on her 1966 album, "Way Out West," was followed by several minor hits through 1966 that included "N-E-R-V-O-U-S!" (1965) and "Good Hard Rock" (1965). Whitcomb's final charting song came in 1966 with his ukulele rendition of a vintage 1916 Al Jolson comedy tune, "Where Did Robinson Crusoe Go With Friday On Saturday Night?" (credited to Ian Whitcomb & His Seaside Syncopators).
By the late 1960s, Whitcomb had completely abandoned rock & roll and its attendant lifestyle, turning his attention to his lifelong love, ragtime, and he continued his long and multi-faced career as a well-respected actor, broadcaster, record producer, music historian, and author. His many books include several dedicated to the history of popular music going back to the late 1800s. His musical compositions, many of which draw upon ragtime and other early pop genres, include his work on the soundtrack to "Titanic" (1997) in which he recreated the music played aboard the famous passenger liner during its ill-fated 1912 voyage.
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Ian Whitcomb And Bluesville
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