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David Wiffen

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David Wiffen (born 11 March 1942) is an English-Canadian folk singer-songwriter. Two of his songs, "Driving Wheel" and "More Often Than Not", have become cover standards.

Early life

Wiffen was born in Redhill, Surrey, England."David Wiffen – Coast to Coast Fever (1973): Forgotten Series". Something Else Reviews, 13 January 2016 by Kasper Nijsen He spent his early childhood with his mother, living on an aunt's farm in Chipstead, while his father, an engineer, contributed to the war effort. Following the war, Wiffen's family relocated to London and, in 1954, to Claygate, Surrey, where Wiffen attended Hinchley Wood School. Wiffen came to Canada at the age of sixteen.


Wiffen first sang with the Kingston upon Thames-based Black Cat Skiffle group. Wiffen moved with his family to Canada at age 16, and became part of the burgeoning folk music scene, initially in Toronto. In 1964, Wiffen hitchhiked to Edmonton and later managed The Depression folk club in Calgary.Peter Warren, Like...Don't Ring. Calgary Herald, October 1963. Profile of The Depression folk club. As reproduced in Retrieved 19 July 2014.
In 1965, having moved to Vancouver, Wiffen was invited to perform at The Bunkhouse club on a live ensemble album. It became Wiffen's first solo album, David Wiffen at the Bunkhouse Coffeehouse, Vancouver BC, on the Universal International label, when the other invited musicians failed to show up.
Wiffen was subsequently in several bands, including The Pacers, based in Prince George, British Columbia, where he was the lead vocalist, and The Children, based in Ottawa. Members of The Children included William Hawkins, Bruce Cockburn, Sneezy Waters and Richard Patterson. He subsequently joined 3's a Crowd, whose initial members included Brent Titcomb, Donna Warner, Trevor Veitch and Richard Patterson."David Wiffen Releases ‘Songs From the Lost & Found’". The Epoch Times, 7 April 2015 Wiffen also cohosted a television variety series on Ottawa station CJOH with Ann Mortifee, which was produced for a period by William Hawkins.Greg Quill, "William Hawkins, Lost and Found". Songwriters Magazine, Fall, 2008. page 15
Wiffen subsequently signed to Fantasy Records as a solo artist."From the Music Capitals of the World". In 1971, he released David Wiffen, and had hit singles with "One Step" and "More Often Than Not"."From Fantasy to Reality". The Ottawa Journal, Ottawa, Canada, 7 May 1971. Page 30 The album also contained his most widely covered song, "Driving Wheel". By this time a number of his songs had been recorded by other musicians, including Harry Belafonte, Anne Murray and Tom Rush.
Wiffen's second solo studio album, Coast to Coast Fever (United Artists, 1973), was produced by Bruce Cockburn, and Wiffen's musical career appeared to be quite promising. He continued to perform regularly in the 1970s,Including being an inaugural performer at the Vancouver Folk Music Festival in 1978; see 1978 Artist Profile; though found his success diminishing and a consequent source of frustration and depression,"David Wiffen: Finding his Driving Wheel". compared to the success of contemporaries Bruce Cockburn and Murray McLauchlan. Alcohol abuse compounded the difficulties he was experiencing in his musical career. He eventually ceased performing, choosing to become a limousine driver and later a publicly funded driver for handicapped persons in Ottawa. Wiffen suffered a serious back injury on the job while moving a wheelchair, which required corrective surgery and impeded any return to performing.
Wiffen's third album, South of Somewhere, was released in 1999, twenty-six years after Coast to Coast Fever. At that time, Wiffen had been sober for ten years and had spent six years in preparation and development for the album's production. The album contained a mix of reworkings of some of his older material, such as "Driving Wheel", plus some new songs. During this period, he returned briefly to performing, principally as a weekly performer and performance host at Irene's Pub in Ottawa, Ontario, but then stopped performing publicly. (As of 2008 and through much of 2009, Wiffen was on EMI's list of "missing royaltors").General Notice to Royaltors ; retrieved 24 November 2009.
In 2015, Songs From the Lost and Found, was released, containing material written and recorded between 1973 and the early 1980s, in the years after the release of Wiffen's Coast to Coast Fever album. The master tapes were thought lost for many years, but surfaced among the effects of former bandmate Richard Patterson, who died in 2011.Lynn Saxberg,


  • David Wiffen at the Bunkhouse Coffeehouse, Vancouver BC (Universal International, 1965)
  • Christopher's Movie Matinée (ABC Dunhill, 1968, as a member of 3's a Crowd)
  • David Wiffen (Fantasy, 1971; CD reissue via Akarma, 2001. Out of print.)
  • Coast to Coast Fever (United Artists, 1973)
  • South of Somewhere (True North, 1999)
  • Songs from the Lost and Found (True North, 2015)


"Driving Wheel (Lost My Driving Wheel)" was covered by Tom Rush on his 1970 self-titled album, Roger McGuinn in 1973 on his self-titled first solo album. It was also recorded by Greg Harris (1982). The Cowboy Junkies released several versions. Matt Minglewood (Drivin' Wheel 1999), The Jayhawks (Live From The Women's Club, Vol. 1 2002), Ray Wylie Hubbard (Rounder/Philo, 2005), Chris and Rich Robinson of the Black Crowes (Brothers of a Feather: Live at the Roxy 2007), the Chris Robinson Brotherhood during live performances throughout 2011 & 2012, and by British singer-songwriter Rumer, who recorded it for a BBC live session in 2011.
"More Often Than Not" has been covered by Jerry Jeff Walker in 1970 on his Bein' Free album, Ian & Sylvia (1971), and Eric Andersen on his 1972 Blue River album."David Wiffen “Coast to Coast Fever”". Rising Storm Reviews, 23 August 2012.
"Mr. Wiffen (Is Incommunicado Today)" has been covered by Harry Belafonte on his 1973 album Play Me.
"Skybound Station", from Coast to Coast Fever, has been covered by Blackie and the Rodeo Kings on their Kings of Love album (1999).
"Lucifer's Blues", from Coast to Coast Fever, has been covered by members of the Skydiggers and the Cowboy Junkies in their side project band, Lee Harvey Osmond, developed by Tom Wilson of Blackie and the Rodeo Kings and Junkhouse.On their Evil album (2009).Dennis O'Toole, Lee Harvey Osmond music impresses, The Peterborough Examiner, May 2009.
"I Don't Want To Drive You Away" was covered by Anne Murray, as "David's Song".On her What About Me album (1968).
"Smoke Rings" was covered by Hiss Golden Messenger on a Parallelogram LP also featuring Michael Chapman (singer) by Three Lobed Recordings released in December 2015.

External links

  • Profile of David Wiffen
  • Profile of David Wiffen;
  • Profile of David Wiffen; Encyclopedia of Music in Canada
  • Profile of Sneezy Waters;
  • Profile of The Children;

Category:English folk singers
Category:English male singers
Category:English singer-songwriters
Category:1942 births
Category:Living people
Category:English expatriates in Canada
Category:Musicians from London
Category:People from Sydenham, London
Category:Musicians from Ottawa

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