The unhappy phrase has come to us tonight, that Ian handed yesterday, Sunday Morning the 19th. We have now posted an obituary: Pop Idol turned Ragtime Legend Ian Whitcomb has Died at 78. In case you are already acquainted with his profession I like to recommend you ponder as an alternative the essay under. Which Larry Melton wrote for our November 2019 problem.
Hear in your thoughts with me for a second and listen to the joyful “strummings” and vocals of an Ian and Regina Whitcomb routine. Recall the sense of carefree pleasure and exhilaration we felt each time we heard them carry out over the lengthy years of their careers. Ian was singing falsetto accompaniment to his ukulele years even earlier than Tiny Tim made a profession out of it.
I met Ian on the first ragtime pageant in Sedalia in 1974. Richard Zimmerman introduced him and collectively they carried out a number of novelty numbers to the delight of the viewers. They’d been working collectively in Southern California on the new Maple Leaf Membership gatherings after which they toured with their act and appeared continuously on the Tonight present. We had been thrilled that they introduced their upbeat routine to the Midwest for the primary time. I keep in mind when Ian first took to the stage again then and referred to his accomplice as Dickey. He must be the one one that ever referred to Richard by that sobriquet. What a joyful expertise their efficiency was certainly.
And that’s what Ian’s profession has been all about…sheer joyfulness with a little bit of blissful nonsense and plenty of playful banter to not point out appreciable musical expertise. A ukulele at a ragtime pageant was simply the ingredient that added a British Music Corridor contact to the affair. I had been striving for a purely “classical” ragtime occasion however by bringing Ian, Richard taught me ragtime is available in many various types carried out by many various gifted personalities.
Ian is, in any case, British having come to the states as a part of the British invasion of the 1960s. His massive hit “You Flip Me On,” introduced him fame within the U.S. and he was set for a profession in Rock and Roll. I’ve a pleasant Teen Life journal from 1965 that includes Ian. Its now yellowing pulp pages embrace a beautiful biography of the then twenty-five-year previous pop star in pictures.
As Ian skilled America he turned from the favored tradition that stored him gainfully employed to his actual ardour which was American and British novelty music, particularly Tin Pan Alley and ragtime numbers. His “pull out all of the stops” model of exuberant leisure quickly endeared him to audiences as his new pursuits led him again to the favored tradition of an earlier age. His fan base modulated from screaming teenage ladies to no much less enthusiastic middle-aged and senior audiences.
Ian collected hats and that’s an acceptable enterprise for somebody who has worn so many “hats” in his lengthy profession. He has in fact been a performing musician, and a composer, a radio persona, a document producer, music historian, writer and filmmaker to checklist a few of his endeavors however most of all, Ian has been an entertainer.
He has been keen on taking part in with the accuracy of musical details and has typically tickled our seriousness with some far-fetched tales achieved by inventively imaginary characters to amplify his effervescent stage presence. I’m particularly endeared to his Artwork Nouveau composer/character.
Via the years I’ve loved following Ian’s profession. He returned to Sedalia a number of instances and brightened the pageant stage together with his gifted spouse, Regina whose personal imaginary position was as Miss Lillie Langtry.
I’ve been listening to Ian taking part in and singing over his well-known ukulele in my thoughts so much recently. I take pleasure in his many information and CDs as effectively, however increasingly more I like to easily resort again in reminiscence for pastime leisure.
Ian has been particularly in thoughts since his November 2012 main stroke left him paralyzed on the left aspect. Due to Regina’s fast considering he was rushed to the hospital when she acknowledged the indicators and even worse injury was prevented. After appreciable remedy Ian can now stroll with some issue although he can now not swim as he did earlier than. He’s left-handed and that hand remains to be twisted and never usable.
The hospital discharged him far too quickly and because of this Regina was left with out help and solely minimal care directions. Since his stroke Ian has needed to have a pacemaker implanted and he has had blood clots just like the latest one which prompted him the lack of toes. This has been an actual setback, however he was transferred September 27th to a transitional care facility and plans for his future care are being thought-about, although all should be dictated by monetary concerns.
Ian and I are about the identical age and although our well being points differ we’re nonetheless victims of growing older, growing debility, and rising dependence. So, after I discovered of the couple’s mounting medical bills and found their fund-raising effort on-line, I instantly wished to reply and encourage those that haven’t but contributed, to affix the various who’ve.
The ragtime neighborhood has an unlimited coronary heart relating to our members well being problem bills. We’re seeing increasingly more fund-raising efforts within the arts neighborhood on the whole since so many of those gifted folks haven’t had regular employment with advantages which have been the salvation of lots of the remainder of us mere mortals.
I recall how so a lot of Tom Brier’s pals have rallied to him after his paralyzing accident and increasingly more artists are utilizing fundraising web sites to help their enterprises. All of us have restricted sources, however sharing is a part of what this nice household is all about and Ian and Regina want our assist.
You may ship greetings to Ian at P.O. Field 451, Altadena, CA 91003. Contributions towards his hospital bills and rehabilitation could be made by looking on-line for “Getting Ian Whitcomb Effectively – Go Fund Me” and clicking on the entry.
I used to be shocked when Regina instructed me that Ian is already aiming to stroll once more and regain use of his left arm. He would totally take pleasure in being invited to occasions the place he can lecture or just regale an viewers with the limitless tales from his personal expertise and from the musical historical past he is aware of so effectively. Maybe we’ll even get to learn one other of his books and hopefully a few of his articles in The Syncopated Instances.
I’ve listened a number of instances lately to Ian’s 2017 look on the West Coast Ragtime Competition titled, “My Life in Ragtime,” that Adam Swanson kindly posted. Ian’s pleasure is as contagious as ever.
And so, I return to Ian singing and “ukeing,” this time, “The place Did Robinson Crusoe Go With Friday on Saturday Night time,” recorded alone “Melton Reminiscence” label. With so a lot of his devoted pals, we ship our appreciation and help to Regina and want Ian a speedy restoration so he can return to his life-long profession as an educator and entertainer.