Robert Ian McNabb was born in Liverpool on November 3rd 1960. An only child - the son of Patricia and Robert.
He first picked up a guitar at the age of 12 after seeing Marc Bolan on Top Of The Pops.
Ian joined his first band, Young World, at the age of 15 ; 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 peoples songs and decided that cabaret was not the way forward for him.
He had always written songs for fun but now he began to take it seriously.
In 1981 Ian formed The Icicle Works with Chris Sharrock (drums), and Chris Layhe (bass and vocals).
They 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 U.K ; 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.
Muff Winwood signed Ian to Epic records in 1989, paying a buy-out fee to Beggar’s Banquet; but Muff’s insistence on using The Icicle Works name, (with new musicians Roy Corkill and Zak Starkey) when the original band had ceased to be, caused friction, and after one disappointingly received album, Permanent Damage, Ian was dropped from Epic’s roster.