Alyn Shipton is an award-winning author, musician and broadcaster, who wrote on jazz for over twenty years for The Times in London, and is a presenter/producer of jazz programmes for BBC Radio. He was Consultant Editor of the New Grove Dictionary of Jazz, and has a lifelong interest in oral history, including editing the memoirs of Danny Barker, Doc Cheatham, George Shearing and Chris Barber. His first biography, the life of Fats Waller, published in 1988, has scarcely been out of print since.
His life of Bud Powell (written with Alan Groves) was the first English language biography of the pianist, and his book Groovin’ High, the life of Dizzy Gillespie, won the 2000 ARSC award for the best research of the year. His monumental New History of Jazz, published in 2001, and revised in 2007, was the Jazz Journalists’ Association Book of the Year, and won Alyn the coveted “Jazz Writer of the Year” title in the British Jazz Awards. He was shortlisted for ARSC Awards in 2010 and again in 2011 for his books on Jimmy McHugh and Cab Calloway, and he won the 2014 ARSC Award for best research in pop music with his biography of Harry Nilsson. The Nilsson book went on to win an ASCAP Deems Taylor/Virgil Thomson Award in November 2014, which was accepted on Alyn’s behalf by Kief O Nilsson.
In 2003 he won the Willis Conover / Marian McPartland Award for lifetime achievement in Jazz Broadcasting. In 2010 he was named Jazz Broadcaster of the Year in the UK Parliamentary Jazz Awards.
Alyn won an open scholarship to Oxford in 1972, where he read English at St. Edmund Hall. He later went on to take a PhD in music history at Oxford Brookes University. He has been a lecturer in music at Brookes (2002-3), teaching the jazz history course, and he has also given lectures on jazz and American popular music at Exeter University, at the Institute for United States Studies in the University of London, and at City University, London. He is currently a lecturer in Jazz History and a research fellow at the Royal Academy of Music, London. Alyn divides his time between living in Oxford, UK, and deep in rural France.