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May 29, 1994|CHARLES SOLOMON

THE BECKONING FAIRGROUND: Notes of a British Exile in Lotus Land by Ian Whitcomb (California Classics Books: $12.95; 231 pp., illustrated, paperback original). Singer, songwriter, radio personality, journalist, record producer, one-hit rock star and pop culture gadfly, Ian Whitcomb sets the tone for this memoir when he declares in an early diary entry, "Wish I was like a rock 'n' roll record." The journal entries, articles, interviews and remembrances in this lively collection document encounters with icons that range from Mae West and Walter Matthau to Felix the Cat. Whitcomb may not have achieved the rock stardom he desired, but his account of his ongoing fascination with American popular music is far more entertaining than the biographies of many more celebrated rockers.

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