Rock star Ian's success is anything but frozen after four decades as he heads to Ribble Valley

Rock star Ian McNabb is celebrating 35 years in the music industry with a nationwide tour that takes in The Grand Theatre, Clitheroe.
Rock star Ian McNabb is celebrating 35 years in the music industry with a nationwide tour that takes in The Grand Theatre, Clitheroe.

"I formed a band to get off the dole really."

You couldn't hear a more self deprecating statement than that really could you?

And it comes from the heart of the one of the music industry's veterans who is celebrating 35 years since the launch of his first album.

2019 also marks the 25th anniversary of Ian McNabb's mercury prize nominated solo album Head Like A Rock.

Ian has fronted his band, The Icicle Works, since 1981 and he could never have imagined that almost 40 years later, and at almost 60, he would still be on stage singing the same songs.

Ian said:"It certainly doesn't seem that long ago especially when we are on stage playing the many loyal fans and also the next generation of fans who have come up to."

And The Icicle Works are set to perform at Clitheroe's Grand Theatre on Friday, October 4th as part of a national 35th anniversary tour.

And while Ian admits he may feel his age all that ebbs away when he is up on stage performing.

He said: "There was a time when we would do a show and then party for the rest of the night but now I go home and have a nice cup of tea and hit the sack!'

It was seeing Marc Bolan, the iconic pop star of the 70s, on Top of the Pops that inspired Ian to pick up a guitar at the age of 11.

He joined his first band, Young World, at the age of 15 and they played the working men’s club circuit for a couple of years before Ian joined another band City Lights. This band again gigged extensively around the North of England cabaret circuit, but Ian grew tired of playing other people's songs and decided it was time to start writing and performing his own material.

Ian said: "At first I didn't know if it would work because we felt any band from Liverpool would always be in the shadow of the Beatles."

But, inspired by the success of other bands in 1981 Ian, who lists his other musical influences as The Who, Led Zeppelin and Pink Floyd, formed The Icicle Works with Chris Sharrock (drums), and Chris Layhe (bass and vocals).

Named after the 1960 short story "The Day The Icicle Works Closed" by science fiction author Frederik Pohl, the band quickly gained a following through their debut single release, Nirvana, and extensive live performances up and down the country.

The Icicle Works became part of the Liverpool renaissance movement of the eighties, alongside acts such as Echo And The Bunnymen, The Teardrop Explodes, WAH!, Heat, OMD, Black, Dead Or Alive, Frankie Goes To Hollywood, The Lotus Eaters, and China Crisis.

They signed to Beggar’s Banquet records, and under the guidance of Martin Mills scored a top 20 hit with Love Is A Wonderful Colour in the UK and top 40 placings in the U.S, Canada, and Europe with Birds Fly (Whisper To A Scream), with their eponymous debut album.

The Icicle Works achieved top 40 placings in the UK for all four of their albums - The Icicle Works, The Small Price Of A Bicycle, If You Want To Defeat Your Enemy Sing His Songs, and Blind - until they split up in 1988.

But the band was to re-form and, despite personnel changes along the way, the current line-up (original frontman / lead guitarist Ian McNabb, Roy Corkhill, Richard Naiff, Mathew Priest) have been together since 2006.

And there has been a resurgence in their global popularity over the last year, with their 1984 hit "Birds Fly (Whisper To A Scream)", featuring in the Netflix smash hit series "Stranger Things."

Ian said: "Music is so instant today, you can download music on your phone from anywhere.

"As soon as you hear a song it is there on the internet but in my day we had to wait for the music shows on television and the music papers to come out to see what was popular.

"Saturday mornings were spent in record shops listening to what was in the charts."

In addition to fronting The Icicle Works, Ian has enjoyed an incredible solo career, performing with artists such as Ringo Starr, Neil Young / Crazy Horse, and Mike Scott of The Waterboys.

"Head Like A Rock", recorded with Crazy Horse, was nominated for a Mercury Music prize in 1994.

Ian also plays the occasional tour with his 'other' band, "Cold Shoulder", who play on three of his solo albums "Eclectic Warrior", "Kruggerands", and "Our Future In Space", and give the albums a notable harder edge.

A prolific song writer, Ian's solo albums consistently receive rave reviews. He has been described on many occasions as a songwriting 'genius.'

His instantly recognisable voice is highly regarded, and he's praised for being an incredibly talented lead guitarist.

Regardless of the high and lows he's experienced whilst carving a career out of 'rock n roll' Ian has never given up on his craft, and remains a sought after collaborator amongst his musical peers.

Ian's latest solo album "Our Future In Space" features "Aquamarine" co-written with REM's Peter Buck; his previous album "Star Smile Strong" featured Prof. Brian Cox on the track "Mystic Age", and "This Love I Feel For You", which was co-written with 'Crazy Horse' drummer, Ralph Molina.

While he has lived and breathed the rock star lifestyle away from the spotlight, Ian now lives a modest life in his hometown of Liverpool where he is now a full-time carer for his 85-year-old mother.

To get tickets for the gig please go to or ring the box office on 01200 421599.