Simon Phillips (drummer)

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Simon Phillips
Phillips in 2017
Phillips in 2017
Background information
Born (1957-02-06) 6 February 1957 (age 64)
London, England, United Kingdom
OriginLos Angeles, California, United States
GenresPop, rock, progressive rock, hard rock, jazz fusion
Occupation(s)Musician, record producer
InstrumentsDrums, percussion
Years active1969–present
Associated actsProtocol, Big Country, Toto, Hiromi Trio, The Who, Judas Priest, Gary Boyle, Derek Sherinian, Michael Schenker Group, 801, Asia, Nik Kershaw, Roger Daltrey, Pete Townshend, Phillips Saisse Palladino, Toyah, Joe Satriani, Gary Moore, Andy Timmons, Greg Howe, Pink Floyd, Phil Collins, David Gilmour, Ph.D.

Simon Phillips (born 6 February 1957) is a US-based English jazz, pop and rock drummer,[1] songwriter, and record producer. He worked with rock bands during the 1970s and 1980s and was the drummer for the band Toto from 1992 to 2014.

Phillips worked as a session drummer for Jeff Beck, Gary Moore, Bernie Marsden, Jon Lord, Nik Kershaw, Mike Oldfield, Judas Priest, Mike Rutherford, Tears for Fears, 10cc and The Who. He was the drummer for The Who during the band's American reunion tour in 1989. He became the drummer for the band Toto in 1992 after the death of Jeff Porcaro.


Phillips began to play professionally at the age of twelve in a dixieland band led by his father, Sid Phillips for 4 years.[1] After his father's death, he started playing pop and rock and found work in a production of the musical Jesus Christ Superstar.[1] He worked as a session musician for cast members, and this led to other session work.[1] Beginning in the 1970s, he worked with Jeff Beck, Gil Evans, Stanley Clarke, Peter Gabriel, Pete Townshend, and Frank Zappa.[1]

Phillips was the drummer in the Phil Manzanera and Brian Eno supergroup 801 on their 1976 album 801 Live. He replaced Judas Priest drummer Alan Moore to record on the band's Sin After Sin album (1977) and went on to record Michael Schenker's 1980 debut album The Michael Schenker Group, as well as in Mike Rutherford's Smallcreep's Day. In the early 1980s, Phillips formed part of RMS with session musicians Mo Foster and Ray Russell. He was the drummer for The Who on their 1989 American reunion tour and appeared on solo recordings by band members Roger Daltrey and Pete Townshend.

Around 1978, British guitarist Gary Boyle made an album called "The Dancer" featuring Simon Phillips. Phillips later also played on Evita where he contributed some fabulous[peacock prose] grooves.

In 1981, he formed Ph.D. with Jim Diamond and Tony Hymas. The new wave outfit released two albums and five singles, including "Little Suzi's on the Up" and "I Won't Let You Down", before splitting up in 1983.

In 1989 he recorded his debut album with the band Protocol.[1] Wanting to make bigger changes in his music career, Phillips decided to move to Los Angeles in the 1990s.


In 1992, Phillips had recently completed the recording of an album in England when he was invited by Toto to fill in for Jeff Porcaro after the latter died following the completion of the recording of Kingdom of Desire.[2] He became the band's only choice as Porcaro liked his style and that he toured with Steve Lukather and Carlos Santana on their solo tours. Phillips decided to settle permanently in Los Angeles on that matter and began rehearsals with the band. After the Kingdom of Desire tour, Phillips officially joined Toto.

As the band began its 1995 Tambu tour, Phillips suffered from back problems and was unable to play on the first leg of the said tour; the band turned to Gregg Bissonette to substitute for him. When Phillips fell ill prior to the 2004 Night of the Proms concert, Bissonette was unavailable to take over his drumming duties, causing the band to invite Ricky Lawson instead.

Phillips' last show with Toto was in 2013. He left the following year to focus on his solo career and was replaced by Keith Carlock.

Other ventures[edit]

Five years later he led a band that performed at the North Sea Jazz Festival.[2] In 2002 he recorded a jazz album, Vantage Point, with trumpeter Walt Fowler, saxophonist Brandon Fields, and pianist Jeff Babko.[1] He has co-produced and engineered albums by Mike Oldfield, Derek Sherinian, and Toto.[2] After leaving Toto, he became a member of a trio with Hiromi Uehara and bassist Anthony Jackson.[3] Phillips has also worked with Big Country, Jack Bruce, David Gilmour, Big Jim Sullivan, and Whitesnake.[4]

In 2009, Phillips joined with keyboardist Philippe Saisse and bassist Pino Palladino in forming an instrumental jazz/funk rock trio: Phillips Saisse Palladino, PSP, which toured in Europe in 2009 and 2010. Phillips also performed on Joe Satriani's album Super Colossal, appearing on multiple tracks. Phillips appears in Alan Parsons' Art & Science of Sound Recording educational video series, as well as the program's single "All Our Yesterdays". He played in the Michael Schenker Group album In the Midst of Beauty and took part to the band's 30th Anniversary world tour in 2010. Phillips is featured on Hiromi Uehara's 2011 album, Voice. He also toured with Hiromi and bassist Anthony Jackson as part of the Hiromi Trio Project.[5]

Phillips playing with PSP in Rome, 2009

In 2019 Phillips was featured on the album Origin of Species. In addition to playing drums and keyboards, he engineered, mixed, and helped produce.[6]

Phillips cites Buddy Rich, Tony Williams, Billy Cobham, Steve Gadd, Ian Paice, Tommy Aldridge and Bernard Purdie as his main influences.[7]

Awards and honours[edit]

  • In 2003, he was inducted into the Modern Drummer magazine Hall of Fame.[8]
  • In 2015 at the 14th Annual Independent Music Awards, Phillips was the winner in the Jazz Instrumental Album category for Protocol II.
  • In 2019 Simon was voted #1 in the Fusion category of the annual Modern Drummer Readers Poll.
  • In 2019 the Protocol 4 album was nominated for a GRAMMY Award in the Contemporary Instrumental Album category.

Partial Discography[edit]

As leader[edit]

  • Protocol (Food for Thought, 1988)
  • Simon Phillips (Manhattan, 1992)
  • Force Majeure with Ray Russell, Anthony Jackson, Tony Roberts (B&W, 1993)
  • Symbiosis (Lipstick, 1995)
  • Another Lifetime (Lipstick, 1997)
  • Out of the Blue (Victor, 1999)
  • Vantage Point with Jeff Babko (Jazzline, 2000)
  • Protocol II with Andy Timmons, Steve Weingart, Ernest Tibbs (Phantom, 2013)
  • Protocol III with Andy Timmons, Steve Weingart, Ernest Tibbs (In-akustik, 2015)
  • Protocol 4 with Greg Howe, Dennis Hamm, Ernest Tibbs (Phantom, 2017)

As sideman[edit]

With Duncan Browne

With Asia

With DarWin

  • DarWin 2: A Frozen War (2020)

With Derek Sherinian

With Gary Moore

With Gordon Giltrap

With 801

With Hiromi

  • Voice (Telarc, 2011)
  • Move (Telarc, 2012)
  • Alive (Telarc, 2014)
  • Move: Live in Tokyo (Telarc, 2014)
  • Spark (Telarc, 2016)

With Jeff Beck

With Jack Bruce

With Joe Satriani

With Jon Anderson

With Jon Lord

With Judas Priest

With L. Shankar

With Michael Schenker

With Mike Oldfield

With Nik Kershaw

With Pete Townshend

With Ph.D.

With Steve Hackett

With Steve Lukather

With Toto

With Toyah

With The Who

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g Phares, Heather. "Simon Phillips". AllMusic. Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  2. ^ a b c "Simon Phillips". Retrieved 7 July 2019.
  3. ^ Haid, Mike. "Simon Phillips". Modern Drummer Magazine. Retrieved 7 July 2019.
  4. ^ Thodoris, Arno (16 August 2014). "Interview:Simon Phillips". Hit Channel. Retrieved 15 January 2019.
  5. ^ "Hiromi: The Trio Project feat. Anthony Jackson & Simon Phillips". Blue Note Jazz Festival. 25 June 2014. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
  6. ^ "DarWin Releases Debut Concept Album "Origin Of Species" Internationally Featuring Drum Legend Simon Phillips". Music News Net. 11 February 2019. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
  7. ^ Marinescu, Patricia; Bâscă, Dragoş (2016). "Interview – Simon Phillips: I have a distinctive sound". Twin Arts. Archived from the original on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 2 March 2019.
  8. ^ "Modern Drummer's Readers Poll Archive, 1979–2014". Modern Drummer. Retrieved 10 August 2015.

External links[edit]