Dear Visitor, this page contains my full bio. If you are after a more succinct version please visit the "About" page. If you require a bio for a specific purpose then please contact me directly. Thanks, Luke
Luke Escombe is a rock-soul singer, raconteur, blistering blues guitarist, comedian and songwriter, and is very good at them all
- John Shand, Sydney Morning Herald
Luke was born in London into a musical household. His father Alan was a bassist for successful 60's band The Shakespears before moving behind the scenes of the industry in the 70s to work for rock and roll freight company: Rock-it Cargo. This enabled Luke to receive an incredible musical education, watching legendary shows by artists like Prince, Bruce Springsteen, Mick Jagger and Freddie Mercury, while he was just a boy.
He began playing guitar at the age of seven, and became obsessed with the instrument the day his teacher introduced him to the Blues. It was to become a valuable resource to him in his teens, when he was diagnosed with a chronic illness called Crohn's disease.
After studying English and Theatre at Sussex University Luke moved from London to Sydney where he fell in love and quickly married an Australian girl. He started singing and performing his own songs at the age of 22 with outlandish funk band "Funklantis" before once again succumbing to his illness and spending much of his early 20's either housebound or in and out of hospital.
Luke emerged in 2006 to front satirical folk trio The Locals before officially introducing himself to the Australian music industry in 2008 with his debut solo album "Golden Ages", a warm, folk-tinged collection of songs recorded in the hills of Byron Bay. One of its tracks, The Blame Game, was used as part of Worldvision’s "Stir the World" campaign, while another two were featured on Foghorn Records' "Homegrown Roots" compilation alongside songs from the likes of John Butler and Paul Kelly.
After playing the main stage of the Peats Ridge Festival and a succession of Sydney residencies and East Coast tours, Luke then found himself in the familiar scenario of spending most of 2009 at home on the couch because of his illness. As a side effect of the illness his left wrist was paralysed for many months and he was unsure whether he would be able to play the guitar again, so he began writing songs using simple keyboard hooks and hip-hop drum loops. He returned to the scene with a fresh set of songs and 2 live EPs in 2010 – “Chronic Illness” and “Live in the Studio”, showcasing a funky new style and more overtly comedic lyrics, plus a new onstage persona - the Pimp
In 2011, on the advice of friends and audience members, Luke combined his new comedic material and pimp persona into a musical comedy show called “Chronic” which he took to the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. This was where he received his first significant critical notices, with the Melbourne Herald Sun describing him as “a stick insect dressed like a pimp” but praising his “stellar musicianship” and declaring him “on the fast track to musical comedy’s big leagues” Following the show's success, he was awarded a grant from Arts NSW to take “Chronic” to the Edinburgh Fringe, where it packed out its room and garnered a 4-star review.
Earlier in the year, on a rain-soaked rock and roll tour of QLD, Luke had gone into the recording studio with his 4-piece backing band "The Corporation" to record a hard-rocking comedy song about airport security procedures. The single was released in July and became an instant hit on community radio stations across the country, spending 5 weeks in the top ten of the AIRIT charts.
Luke returned from Edinburgh to perform sold out shows in Melbourne and Sydney, where his comedy began to attract attention for its candid discussion of living with chronic illness. One of his performances at the Sydney Fringe was filmed by the ABC’s “Tonic” program, and a few weeks later he was flown down to Canberra to deliver a moving speech about the experiences that inspired “Chronic” to a room full of politicians. He ended the year with standing ovations at the Peats Ridge Festival and the title of “Sydney’s sexiest man voice”, as voted for by the listeners of Sydney’s Mix 106.5FM. “Chronic” was nominated for a Green Room Award in 2012
July 6th 2012 saw the release of "Mantown" - Luke's second album, released through his own “Dri-Clean Only” label. Featuring singles "Drop tha Bomb" and "iMan", two songs from the "Chronic" repertoire, the record also paid tribute to Luke's blues and roots influences, from Hendrix and The Stones to John Lee Hooker and Reverend Gary Davis.
The launch of "Mantown" was accompanied by an 11-date national tour by Luke Escombe and the Corporation and a spectacular music video for "iMan", starring Luke as a homicidal iphone obsessed with his sexy owner (played by Aussie model Annette Melton), which racked up over 20 000 views in its first week on Youtube. "Mantown" went on to spend 9 straight months in the top ten of the Australian Blues and Roots chart and drew universal critical acclaim, with John Shand of the Sydney Morning Herald comparing Luke's "commanding voice" to the likes of Dr John, Jim Morrison and (Luke's childhood hero) Bruce Springsteen.
Following the ABC’S broadcast of the segment on “Chronic” in early 2012, Luke was made an official ambassador for Crohn's and Colitis Australia and immediately began receiving offers to speak and perform at a number of high profile health industry events, including the 2012 National medicines Symposium.
Asked to speak for the second year in a row at Parliament House, he used the occasion to premier his animated music video "Master Key" - a gangsta rap tune about public toilet access - to some of the nation's top politicians. A few months later he joined forces with award-winning guitarist (and bandmate) Aaron Flower to present an expanded version of his Chronic show, featuring an 8-piece band with a string section, entitled "Chronic Symphonic". The ambitious show was a success, packing out its venue and receiving a 4 and a half star review in the Sydney Morning Herald. Less than a month later, Luke took a decisive step in his long battle with Crohn's disease, undergoing a major surgical procedure that has left him disease-free for the first time in his adult life.
2013 saw Luke travel to every major city in Australia and New Zealand as either a performer or speaker, including an emotional presentation at New Zealand's national museum in Wellington - given just days after the birth of his son - where he was honoured with a standing ovation. In September he launched a crowdfunding campaign through website "Pozible" to fund the release of Chronic Symphonic on DVD, along with another live album - Live on the Coast - recorded at Wagstaffe Hall on the NSW Central Coast. The funding campaign doubled its target amount in just four days, enabling the simultaneous release of both live albums on May 15th 2014. Once again, the release earned glowing reviews, with the Sydney Morning Herald's John Shand declaring: "Luke Escombe is funny and brave, a showman and an artist, a brilliantly engaging lyricist, expert tunesmith, fine guitarist and exceptional singer"
Becoming a Dad for the first time in 2013 inspired Luke to create a follow-up to "Chronic" entitled "Daddy Pimp", which played in Sydney and Melbourne, and then a brand new show for the 2014 Sydney Fringe called "The Vegetable Plot". Described as a "roots musical for kids, families, foodies and groovies", it featured a 14-strong cast including alt-country group "All our Exes live in Texas" and singer "Lionel Cole". The show was awarded the prize for "Best Kid's Show" at the Fringe and went on to a tremendously successful run of performances in Hyde Park for the 2015 Sydney Festival. One of the songs in the show - "Avocado" - made it to the semi-finals of the 2015 International Songwriting Competition. The Vegetable Plot has since gone on to play seasons at the Seymour Centre and Sydney Opera House, Sydney's Spectrum Now Festival, the Melbourne Cabaret Festival and Perth Fringe, and continues to make new fans both here and overseas. A show which begun as a bunch of silly little songs designed to amuse his infant son and encourage Luke to eat better has now grown into an internationally recognised health and education tool, with fans in Singapore, London, LA, Hong Kong, Malta, Italy and all around Australia. The Vegetable Plot were recently named as the ambassadors for NSW Fruit and Veg Month, a government sponsored initiative reaching over 800 schools across the state.
Last year Luke joined the cast of "Man of Constant Sorrow - a Tribute to the Music of O Brother Where Art Thou", as both a singer and the show's MC, a dual role he also occupies in the critically acclaimed 1950's RnB musical "Little Egypt's Speakeasy". Luke's deep voice also saw him picked to join a 9-piece choir singing with Chet Faker in front of 6000 people in the Sydney Opera House forecourt. 2016 has seen him take on another deeply personal project - a radio documentary based on the voice memos his father recorded before he died, made in collaboration with ABC Open and ABC Lismore.
Luke lives in Avalon on Sydney's Northern Beaches with his wife Kamilla and son Harry.
LISTEN to Luke being interviewed on ABC Sydney in March 2017