William Clarence Phillips grew up in an area steeped in country music and learned guitar and began singing before leaving high school to work as an upholsterer. In 1955, he joined theOld
This success saw Phillips signed to Columbia Records and in 1959 and 1960, he registered his first two Top 30 hits with ‘Sawmill’ and ‘Georgia Town Blues’, both with Mel Tillis, and he appeared on the Grand Ole Opry. He joined Decca Records in 1963 and by 1971, had registered 12 more hits, the biggest being ‘Put It Off Until Tomorrow’ (1966) which, with Dolly Parton (the song’s co-writer) on harmony vocal, reached number 6.
Parton was living in something akin to poverty when Mr. Phillips heard her demo of “Put It Off Until Tomorrow,” a song she wrote with her uncle, Bill Owens. Impressed with the composition and also with the “girl singer” on the tape, Phillips recorded the song with Parton singing prominent harmony vocals.
The song became Phillips’ first Top 10 hit, and it launched Parton’s career. Months after “Put It Off Until Tomorrow” peaked at No. 6 on the Billboard country singles chart in April of 1966, Parton secured cuts from Skeeter Davis and Hank Williams Jr., and she soon signed a record contract.
Phillips’ career did not ascend to Parton’s Hall of Fame heights, but he scored three more Top 10 hits, ‘The Company You Keep’ (1966), ‘The Words I’m Gonna Have To Eat’ and ‘Little Boy Sad’ (1969), the latter having previously been a 1961 pop hit for Johnny Burnette.
During the 70s, he registered five more minor hits, when recording on the United Artists or Soundwaves label. From the early 70s, he began to work as part of the Kitty Wells - Johnny Wright Show, although continuing to make a few recordings as a solo artist.
In 1995, he suffered a stroke and Wells, Wright and other country music friends played a charity show to raise money for him. He appeared as a guest artist on Wells and Wright's final performance in Nashville on Jan. 31, 2000.
Bill Phillips died Monday (Aug. 23. 2010) at his home in Mt. Juliet, Tenn., following a lengthy battle with diabetes. He was 74. (Info from various sources mainly All Music, The Tennessean and Wikipedia)
Bill Phillips & Ruby Wright - Put It Off Until Tomorrow