Ian had a love for music and football from a very early age. His Dad and Grandad were both staunch Birmingham City fans, and Ian attended his first game at St Andrew’s with them in February 1974 at the age of 5 – he remains a passionate ‘Bluenose’ to this day. The love of music also came from his Dad and Grandad who were both talented pianists, and Ian took piano lessons up until his early teens, by which time he’d switched to playing drums as his first instrument. He formed his 1st band at school with classmates, but it wasn’t until early 1985 that he put together his first serious band, called Minotaur with school pal Andy Simmons and local guitar player Keith Laurent who’d answered an advert Ian & Andy had placed in the window of Solihull’s Organ Shop.
Ian began his working life after leaving Solihull Sixth Form College in the late 80’s at Lloyds Bank in Shirley. His love for music led him to switch career to work in music retail a year later when he joined Express Music in Shirley, selling digital pianos and guitars. Minotaur disbanded around this time, and Ian was asked to join Shotgun Wedding (a glam rock band from Birmingham) as their new drummer, and he stayed with the band for 6 years touring the UK and trying to get a record deal. Many positive reviews in Kerrang! Magazine helped the band gain a significant following as the years progressed, though no record deal ever came to fruition.
In March 1992, Ian started working at the prestigious Musical Exchanges store in central Birmingham and spent 5 years working in the guitar and keyboard departments before joining Laney Amps in March 1997 to help distribute Ibanez guitars in the UK.
Shotgun Wedding split in the summer of 1994 and Ian then joined Welsh glamsters City Kidds that autumn for a UK tour supporting Tigertailz. City Kidds changed their name shortly after to Sons Of God, and despite more rave reviews in Kerrang! Magazine and a contract signed with MGL Records to make an album, Sons Of God’s debut was never completed and the band split in 1997
Around this time, Ian’s knack of doing impressions of well-known football characters for friends and family came to the notice of BRMB Radio’s Head of Sport Tom Ross via a letter to Tom written by Ian’s best friend and former band mate Keith Laurent. Tom subsequently offered Ian the chance to record comedy sketches for his Saturday afternoon football programme.
After 9 months of writing and performing sketches for Tom, Ian was offered the position of BRMB’s “Flying Eye” travel reporter in February 1998 and accepted the role immediately. Starting a brand new career in radio, he quickly became adept at delivering his bulletins into both the BRMB and XTRA/AM breakfast shows, and shortly after was offered his first on-air presenting shifts at XTRA/AM & BRMB covering ‘The Elvis Hour’, Sunday evenings and overnight shows.
By late 1998, BRMB’s management had also placed Ian on Saturday/Sunday overnights, asking him to develop comedy ideas utilising his voice talents. Bringing in his friend and Kerrang! writer Steve Beebee, the overnight show quickly began to gain popularity and by 1999, Ian & Steve were given the chance to host the Saturday ‘Barmy Brummies’ breakfast show on BRMB. This programme too was a big hit, with audience surveys at the time suggesting that BRMB had 48% of the available audience at that weekend time slot.
Ian had also begun to report on local football matches for his mentor Tom Ross by this time. Initially he covered Walsall and Wolves reporting duties (his first game was Walsall v Chesterfield in February 1999), but was soon handed the responsibility of full match commentaries on Walsall, Birmingham City & West Bromwich Albion games for the newly named Capital Gold and BRMB too.
In 2000, Ian and Steve were given the 2-4pm mid afternoon weekday slot on BRMB to further develop their comedy ideas, and the show was such a success that they were quickly promoted to the 4-7pm “Barmy Brummies Drivetime Show” in May 2000. Steve Beebee left not long after this switch to return to his first love of written journalism, and so local comics Andy Robinson & Sean Percival were brought in alongside Ian as writers and occasional performers on the show.
Features such as ‘Des’s Dedications’ ‘Black Country Bob’ and ‘The Mr Men stories’ became incredibly popular daily sketches on the show, along with parody songs such as Des Lynam’s ‘7 Days’, which made the national press in Summer 2000. In what many saw as a golden era for BRMB with Les Ross, Graham Mack, the Barmy Brummies and Jeremy “Jezza’ Kyle’s Late & Live show, the station had record listening figures in an increasingly competitive marketplace.
The Barmy Brummies show came to an end in June 2002, although Ian stayed on at the station as match commentator for BRMB/Capital Gold for the next 2 years. In the meantime he branched out into shopping telly, joining the fledgling TGH (Toys Games & Hobbies) channel, which broadcast from studios in Redditch – this channel quickly morphed into Factory Outlet TV and then Snatch It (a falling auction channel) by 2003. Ian was one of the main presenters as the channel began broadcasting live hours of programming, which initially were 2-5pm, but due to Snatch It’s popularity it became a channel that went live from mid morning through until 11pm every day.
In 2004, Snatch It was adapted and streamlined to become Gems TV, utilising the same ‘falling auction’ format to sell jewellery directly sourced from suppliers rather than through 3rd parties or distributors. Ian was one of many on-air presenters who were sent to Thailand, as the company merged with a successful jewellery manufacturer in Chanthaburi, and was trained extensively on gemstone knowledge and history. Ian worked at the new Gems TV for the next 3 years, racking up 1000’s of hours of live television.
Also in 2004, Ian was asked to join talkSPORT’s expanding team of national reporters for their flagship Football First programme on Saturday afternoons. He came on board for the start of the 2004/5 season, his first game being Crewe v Cardiff City in August 2004. His first run of talkSPORT cover shows came over the 2005 Christmas period, presenting mid-afternoon shows with Robyn Schonhofer and Rachel Brooks.
In 2006, Ian was added to the roster of commentators for talkSPORT’s coverage of the World Cup in Germany, and called Group Stage games alongside the likes of Micky Quinn and Alvin Martin. For the start of the following 06/07 league season, Ian became the regular host of Friday night Kick Off on the station, alongside Alvin Martin, a show he looked after for 18 months before also being asked to take over a revamped Football First show that was now to air during Sunday afternoons.
Once again Ian, along with co hosts Alvin Martin, Jason Cundy and later on Ray Houghton, built a record audience for Sunday afternoons on talkSPORT in an era before live football commentaries came to the station.
Whilst Ian’s radio career was developing, he maintained a strong interest in music and playing live. To that end, he performed from the late 90’s onwards as drummer and occasional guitarist in a number of top tribute acts on the UK club circuit; namely New Jersey (Bon Jovi) Dizzy Lizzy (Thin Lizzy) Ian The Goat Sings Black Sabbath, Foreigner 4, Toxic Twins (Aerosmith) Whitesnake UK & Doors Alive - as well as cover bands Americana and The Three Amoebas.
In 2003 he helped to form a new European KISS tribute band called Hotter Than Hell, but 2 years later he was asked to join Dressed To Kill, the world’s longest running tribute to KISS – he stayed with DTK as drummer for 5 successful years, playing all over the UK and Europe to sold out audiences.
Work commitments at talkSPORT were increasing by 2010, as Ian was selected as one of the main commentators for the station’s coverage of the World Cup in South Africa. Working alongside a number of top pundits including Stan Collymore, Alvin Martin, Ray Parlour and Micky Quinn, Ian covered games in cities such as Johannesburg, Cape Town, Pretoria, Rustenburg and many more, culminating in being awarded the semi-final commentary of Uruguay v Holland in Cape Town.
Once back in the UK, Ian’s Football First show was soon switched to Saturday evenings after talkSPORT won the rights for exclusive Premier League commentaries on Sunday afternoons. He also became the first and only presenter other than Danny Kelly in the stations history to cover every shift on the weekday schedule, as his versatility made him ideal for hosting topical debate shows, phone-ins, live outside broadcasts, or current affairs programmes.
Back to music, and Ian released his first solo album, ‘Prove You Wrong’ in March 2013 to rave reviews. Ian wrote every song and performed all instruments on the album which he recorded during various session in 2012 at Arkham Studios in Birmingham – former SHY singer Lee Small provided vocals on 12 of the album’s 15 tracks, with Ian singing the other 3, including the title track.
Football First ended its long run at the start of the 2013/14 season, but Ian was still very much front and centre for talkSPORT. His was the first live voice heard on the new ‘talkSPORT LIVE’ International commentary service that launched in August 2013, and he also continued to cover talkSPORT shows around the clock.
In late 2013, Ian was asked to become the station’s England correspondent and subsequently travelled to Brazil in the summer of 2014 to go inside the England camp at the World Cup, taking in stadia like the Arena Amazonia in Manaus where England played their 1st Group Stage game against Italy in early June. After the tournament, Ian continued in the England role until early 2016, when he was asked to go back to his first love of commentary work for the upcoming Euro 2016 finals in France.
In September 2015, Ian released his second collection of songs on the album “Second Time Around”. Again the critical acclaim for the album was significant – on this occasion, Ian played and sang pretty much everything on the album, save for backing vocals on 2 tracks supplied by Janey Gillard of Birmingham melodic rock band Iconic Eye.
Meanwhile, Planet Rock (the UK’s biggest Classic Rock radio station), contacted Ian out of the blue in the Autumn of 2015 asking him to provide occasional cover for their regular presenters and by October of that year, he was on air playing the music he loves across the weekday daytime schedule, a role which he continues to fill today.
In March 2016, another first for Ian – he was the first voice heard on the new talkSPORT 2 service, launched on a new digital platform to provide even more live sport for listeners. Ian was at Prestbury Park, Cheltenham to launch the station at 10am on Tuesday March 15th as the Cheltenham Festival commenced that afternoon – Ian spent the week previewing and reviewing all the days’ action for talkSPORT 2 alongside Rupert Bell and Lee McKenzie, and then became host of the fledgling station’s Champions League commentaries and also worked as host and commentator for T20 Blast and IPL cricket coverage during the summer, as the station quickly gained a significant audience.
Euro 2016 was another memorable tournament for Ian, as he was assigned to Wales’ historic passage through the group stages of the competition, and was also talkSPORT’s commentator as Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland earned massively important wins against Ukraine and Italy respectively. Ian covered games travelling all over France during the tournament and worked in a stadium he’d always wanted to visit, the Stade Velodrome in Marseille, where he commentated on the quarter final match between Poland & eventual winners Portugal.
Upon his return from France, the talkSPORT bosses gave Ian another new role as host of “Matchday Live 2” on talkSPORT 2 every Saturday afternoon. The station had just won exclusive rights to 3pm Premier League commentaries that summer, and the first programme came from the Riverside Stadium in August 2016, as Middlesbrough played Stoke City on opening weekend.
In 2017, Ian continues to divide his time between radio work for talkSPORT, talkSPORT 2 and Planet Rock – he also can be heard as a voiceover on various commercials on TV & radio (the voice of Screwfix for Sky & ITV’s coverage of the Football League and England, for example) and he is now drumming in a theatre rock show Leather And Lace, which plays Classic Rock Anthems and Power Ballads from throughout the decades.