Shawn Phillips (born February 3, 1943) is an American folk-rock musician, primarily influential in the 1960s and 1970s.
Phillips has recorded twenty six albums and worked with musicians including Donovan, Paul Buckmaster, J. Peter Robinson, Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Bernie Taupin, Tim Hardin, Manos Hatzidakis and many others. The Texas-born singer-songwriter was described as "the best kept secret in the music business" by the late rock impresario Bill Graham.
Phillips in 2006
|Born||February 3, 1943|
|Origin||Fort Worth, Texas, U.S.|
Phillips was born in Fort Worth, Texas. He is believed to have lived with Donovan in England in the 1960s and appeared as a session musician on several of the singer-songwriter's albums, including Fairytale, Sunshine Superman, and Mellow Yellow. Phillips claims to have contributed backing vocals to "Lovely Rita" by The Beatles. He was cast to play the lead in the original production of Jesus Christ Superstar, but had to withdraw due to his heavy recording and touring schedule. In February 1969 Phillips wrote and performed, with The Djinn, the music for the controversial Jane Arden play Vagina Rex and the Gas Oven at the Arts Laboratory on Drury Lane.
Phillips worked the folk music scene in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York City's Greenwich Village, and London. In 1967, Phillips moved to Positano, where he remained throughout the 1970s, recording the albums Contribution, Second Contribution, Collaboration, and Faces.
Four of his albums (Faces, Bright White, Furthermore, and Do You Wonder) charted in the Billboard 200 between 1972 and 1974. In addition, the singles "Lost Horizon" and "We" appeared on the Billboard Hot 100 chart in 1973 (numbers 63 and 92, respectively).
His album No Category, featuring his longtime collaborators Paul Buckmaster and Peter Robinson, was released in 2002.
In 2007, his first live album, Living Contribution, was released, along with a Live DVD of the same title.
After living near Port Elizabeth, South Africa for fifteen years with his South African wife Juliette, since 2016 Phillips has resided in Louisville, Kentucky with Juliette and their son Liam. He is still a dedicated artist to his craft, dividing his time between writing, recording, touring, and his work as an emergency medical technician (EMT) and firefighter.
In an interview with Chicago music critic Scott Itter, Phillips was reminded that he had once been described as "the best kept secret in the music business" by the late rock impresario Bill Graham. Asked why he was still "a secret" to many people, Phillips replied:
I'm not that interested in the fame, and popularity, but I would like to have the money that comes with it. I suppose the two have to go hand in hand. My "secrecy", is simply because none of the companies I have ever been affiliated with have cared enough to hire a national PR firm on an annual basis as part of the machine that creates the fame and popularity. Also, if you use a word like xenophobia in a song, or any word that the general public has to look up, they tend to shy away from any semblance of intelligence in popular music.