Born in Cleveland, Ohio, he began his professional career at the age of 17, joining the Glenn Miller/Ray McKinley orchestra in 1961. He left that band for Stan Kenton, where he played in the touring "mellophonium" band in 1963, then settled in New York City to play commercially.
Frustrated with commercial playing, Whigham migrated to Germany, where he still lives, He taught at the Hochschule für Musik in Berlin. He played for many years in the big band of Kurt Edelhagen, was a featured soloist in the Bert Kaempfert orchestra, and was also a member of the Peter Herbolzheimer band. He is widely admired by trombonists and other musicians for his fluent and expressive playing, and has produced an extensive discography as a leader, including work with Bill Holman, Niels-Henning Ørsted Pedersen, Carl Fontana, and many others.
In recent years, Whigham has been musical director of the RIAS (Radio In The American Sector) Big Band in Germany. He is currently conductor of the BBC Big Band in Great Britain and artistic director of the Berlin Jazz Orchestra with singer Marc Secara and is featured on the Berlin Jazz Orchestra albums Update, You're Everything and music DVD (Polydor/Universal) Strangers In Night - The Music Of Bert Kaempfert. He is visiting tutor and artist at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London and at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester. He is artist-in-residence for the Conn-Selmer company, maker of the King Jiggs Whigham model trombone. He continues to tour worldwide as soloist, conductor, and educator.
He now endorses the "Jiggs P-Bone", a plastic trombone that comes in many colours, such as purple, yellow and blue.
With Stan Kenton
- Artistry in Voices and Brass (Capitol, 1963)
- Stan Kenton / Jean Turner (Capitol, 1963) with Jean Turner
- Official website (English) (German)