Shawn Phillips

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Shawn Phillips
Phillips in 2006
Background information
Born (1943-02-03) February 3, 1943 (age 74)
Origin Fort Worth, Texas, United States
Genres Folk rock
Instruments Guitar, vocals, sitar
Years active 1960s–present
Notable instruments
Audio sample
"Breakthrough" from Furthermore (1974)

Shawn Phillips (born February 3, 1943) is an American folk-rock musician, primarily influential in the 1960s and 1970s.

Phillips has recorded twenty albums[1] and worked with musicians including Donovan, Paul Buckmaster, J. Peter Robinson, Eric Clapton, Steve Winwood, Bernie Taupin, Tim Hardin, Manos Hatzidakis, George Harrison (Beatles), and many others.[2] The Texas-born singer-songwriter was described as "The best kept secret in the music business" by the late rock impresario Bill Graham.[3]


Phillips in 1971

Phillips was born in Fort Worth, Texas. In the 1960s he lived with Donovan in England and co-wrote and worked as a session musician on Donovan albums including Fairytale, Sunshine Superman, and Mellow Yellow.[4] Donovan later acknowledged Phillips as the principal author of "Season of the Witch".[5][better source needed] He performed at the Isle of Wight Festival 1970.[6] Phillips also sang on "Lovely Rita" by the Beatles.[7] 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.[citation needed] 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.[citation needed]

Phillips worked the folk music scene in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York's Greenwich Village, and London. In 1967, Phillips moved to Positano, Italy, 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 made it into the Billboard Top 100. In addition, the singles, "Lost Horizon" and "We", made Billboard's top 100 in 1973 (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 some 15 years with his South African wife Juliette, Phillips today lives in Kentucky, USA 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, Philips 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.[3]

Family and personal life[edit]

Phillips currently lives in Louisville, Kentucky.[citation needed]

Shawn's uncle, David Atlee Phillips, was a top CIA officer who was associated with the alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald.[citation needed]




  • I'm a Loner (1964) [re-issued in 1965 as Favourite Things]
  • Shawn (1965) Columbia Records [re-issued in 1966 as First Impressions]
  • Contribution (1970)
  • Second Contribution (1970) US #208
  • Collaboration (1971)
  • Faces (1972) US #57
  • Bright White (1973) US #72
  • Furthermore (1974), A&M Records US #50
  • Do You Wonder (1974) US #101
  • Rumplestiltskin's Resolve (1975) US #201
  • Spaced (1977)
  • Transcendence (1978) RCA Records
  • Favourite Things (1987) Capitol Records
  • Beyond Here Be Dragons (1983) Wounded Bird Records
  • Best of Shawn Phillips (1990)
  • The Best of Shawn Phillips: The A&M Years (1992)
  • The Truth If It Kills (1994)
  • Another Contribution: Anthology (1995)
  • No Category (2002) Universal Records / Fat Jack Records
  • Living Contribution (2007) Sheer Sound
  • At the BBC (2009) Hux Records
  • Reflections (2012)
  • Perspective (2013)
  • Infinity (2014)


  • "A Christmas Song" (1970, A&M AMS-819)
  • "We" (US #89, 1972, A&M 1402)
  • "Lost Horizon" (US #63, 1973, A&M 1405)
  • "Anello (Where Are You)" (1973, A&M 1435)
  • "Do You Wonder" (1974, A&M 1750)


  1. ^ "Shawn Phillips official website home page". Retrieved February 19, 2012. 
  2. ^ Eder, Bruce. "Shawn Phillips". AllMusic. Retrieved February 19, 2012. 
  3. ^ a b "Shawn Phillips". Retrieved June 17, 2015. 
  4. ^ "Shawn Phillips website - Session Discography". April 26, 2004. Retrieved February 19, 2012. 
  5. ^ Donovan#Sunshine Superman
  6. ^ thodoris. "Interview: Shawn Phillips". Retrieved July 18, 2015. 
  7. ^ "Shawn Phillips". Retrieved February 19, 2012. 
  8. ^ [1] "Shawn Phillips Generated and Copyright on: October 26, 2004 6:05 pm by Leslie J. Pfenninger"

External links[edit]