Ian Whitcomb is a highly respected performer, composer, and music historian. You can find all of his CD's, DVD's, Books, and Songbooks by clicking here.

 
You can find Ian's main website at
ianwhitcomb.com
 

Letter from Lotusland

December 2015

       

    We have got a new dog, so it’s comforting to hear the patter of feet and see him running around in circles of joy like Rollo used to do. Of course our new little friend is not replacing Rollo but he’s helping fill a gap in our spirit. We got him at the humane society where we were thoroughly vetted before being granted stewardship.

       Does Toby, who acts like a puppy although he’s five, have a distinct personality like Rollo and Inspector and Beefy before him? Or are they really just dogs, thoughtless animals with movements and manners bred into them? Types. Does a fly have a personality?

       I ponder such questions as I struggle down lanes in the swimming pool in the mornings, as I sit back at my desk beneath stairs in the bowels of the Huntington library reading biographies of Dashiell Hammett and Ernest Hemingway, as I crunch the oats and honey lunch bar in the resting room. Are we, am I, the sum of the series of the gestures, doings and sayings that make up our lives? Do we make a difference, leave a memory legacy, a friendly footprint on the minds of those we have brushed up against in our lives?

       I think it’s personality that gives a person everlasting life. I know this is the case with my recently dead friend Roy Moseley. An Englishman who, like me, had banished himself to California, he ended up at a modest house in Acton, out in the desert, with a German shepherd and a vast DVD library of classic British films. On the walls no doubt he had hung his posters of James Mason movies; on a table would be signed photos of Bette Davis and Sir Laurence Olivier. He had known them all; several he would tell you, he had known intimately. Why, Miss Davis had proposed marriage while Sir Laurence, upon seeing Roy on the set of one of his films, had seized Roy by the head, in a friendly way, and so mussed his hair that he’d ended up with a double crown.

       Roy’s autograph books were filled with famous and very valuable names. He was so well known by the 1970s that he couldn’t be seen publicly asking for a signature. So he got me to stand in line at the stage door of a London ballet theatre and present the signature book to the cloth-capped Rudolph Nureyev.  Five times he made me go up until finally the great Russian star exploded: "Enough is enough!” Roy also had two signatures of Sir Winston Churchill.

       I had met Roy in the mid 1960s when he was the agent of my friend (the actor) Christian Roberts. Chris got me invited to join he and Roy for a Judy Garland London performance at a nightclub called Talk of The Town. As usual he had us seated at a front row table. No sooner had our star entered the stage, looking like an endangered rabbit, than Roy jumped up and, grabbing her outstretched spindly hand, cried, “We love you Judy!!” She retreated terrified. A few weeks later, for reasons having nothing to do with Roy’s enthusiasm, she died.

       He took me to the London Palladium where we saw Ethel Merman process crab-like across the stage to Roy’s steady time calls. On that same stage an impassioned Johnnie Ray, hand cupped to ear, called out to one and all to join him in ‘Cry’. Of course Roy knew him well and afterwards we were entertained in his dressing room where he admired my cowboy belt buckle.

Months later we were in the front row while top comedian and game show host Bruce Forsyth was in the middle of a song and dance. Advancing to the footlights our star, stepping out of his act, hailed with, “hello Roy! Come back after the show and have a natter”,

        I was very grateful to Roy for his allowing me to join him in his show biz world. He knew only top people. He arranged for the chairman of EMI, Sir Joseph Lockwood, to come to dinner at our family flat. He congratulated me on the delicious stew. Meanwhile, the true cook, my mother, was safely at a bridge party not far away. Sir Joseph asked whether he could help along my career at EMI records. I took him up on his offer only to find that underlings resented such interference and my name became mud at the mighty Beatle-supported corporation. But Roy had meant well. I had run with the ball improperly.

Roy tired of England and eventually moved to Los Angeles where he co-authored a number of doubtful books with Charles Higham, including a life of Cary Grant. He bought a rampageous dog and, dressed in a service jacket, Ralph was able to accompany Roy to any restaurant or public place. He amassed an impressive DVD library of classic British films and they became his safe retreat from a world he loathed. In the end he inhabited a little house in Acton, in the near desert and there he died peacefully last month. He was such a powerful personality that I still expect a call from him, suggesting a night of old James Mason films.

 

                    

Ian Whitcomb is a highly respected performer, composer, and music historian. You can find all of his CD's, DVD's, Books, and Songbooks by clicking here.

 
You can find Ian's main website at ianwhitcomb.com