Google+ Followers

Sunday, 14 June 2015

Sid Phillips born 14 June 1907

Isador Simon “Sid” Phillips (b: June 14, 1907, London, England; d. May 25, 1973, England ) was a popular post-war UK big band leader often referred to as the "King of the clarinet" although he also played alto sax and piano and his skills extended to composer and arranger. His style was progressive Dixieland with a touch of big swinging band which gave him plenty of leeway in choice of material.

Sid Phillips grew up in London's East End with his three brothers and four sisters. While still at school he and his elder brothers Harry (trumpet) and Ralph (banjo), all self-taught musicians, used to practise their instruments at the end of their garden because their mother chased them out of the house when they made "all that noise". However, their neighbours loved 'that noise' and dozens of them stood in the street outside listening, tapping their feet and clapping.
Such was the start of 'The Riviera Five'. It was with this group, augmented in 1923 by Sid Kreeger (piano) and Joe Badis (drums), that Sid first toured on the continent and by 1927, now renamed 'The Melodians' they were favourites in most fashionable European cities.
From about 1925, Sid performed mainly in Europe where he made recordings in three countries, and learned five languages, -a skill that would later help England during World War II. When the Melodians disbanded he became an arranger for the Lawrence Wright music publishing company.

From 1933 thru 1937, he was a prominent member (saxophone) of the popular Ambrose Orchestra. Some of his more memorable arrangements for Ambrose included "Caravan", "Deep Henderson", and the Ambrose Orchestra theme "Hors D'oeuvres" (music by David Comer), which Sid later adopted as the "Out-Theme" for his own orchestra. (The 'In-Theme' was his own composition "Clarinet Cadenza".)
All this while, many of his own compositions were becoming quite well known, including "Night Ride", "Streamline Strut", "Hullabaloo", "An Amazon Goes A-Wooin'", "B'Wanga", "Message From Mars", "Early Morning Blues", "Mister Reynard's Nightmare", "Night Ride", "Plain Jane", and "Cotton Pickers' Congregation". (Sid may have composed another 100 or 200 tunes (not all released). During the late thirties he freelanced and wrote arrangements and tunes for many British Bands.
In 1938, he travelled to the U.S. meeting with some well known leaders including Paul Whiteman, and recorded some big band sides. With WWII imminent, Sid spurned offers to remain in the U.S., and returned to London, England. In 1940, he was called into London's wartime "Specials" police, and soon after was called into the RAF, where his command of languages earned him a commission in the intelligence branch.

In 1945, after World War II ended (in Europe), Sid was de-mobilized and formed his Dixieland Jazz band which became Princess Margaret's favourite, and on several occasions in the 1950s, played the annual Windsor Castle Christmas Ball at her request. The band made frequent broadcasts on the BBC networks, and throughout Great Britain, he became known as "England's King of the Clarinet", while making about 200 records for HMV.

It is interesting to note that Kenny Ball, later a successful bandleader in his own right, was originally trained by Sid while playing in his band. Though world famous for the clarinet Sid also loved the piano which he would often play as a 'special' during a concert. ("Kitten on the Keys" was one of his favourites.). Few folks now recall that he was also an accomplished boxer- a strange hobby for a musician who must protect his hands.. He also loved to play Cricket.
In 1973 while playing his beloved cricket, Sid suffered a heart attack was rushed to the local Chertsey hospital where he died a few days later, - just three weeks before his 66th birthday. (info from British Big bands Database)
Clarinet playing bandleader, Sid Phillips, is best remembered for his 1949 recording of 'Hors d'oeuvres', and his signature tune 'Clarinet Cadenza'. His earliest recordings were in the late 1920s, but his HMV single 'I Found A New Baby' was released in November 1954 - and the Band made this television appearance in May 1955. Kenny Ball who later enjoyed a successful career fronting his own trad band, is the featured trumpet player on this clip.

1 comment:

boppinbob said...

For “Sid Phillips – Ridin’ High” go here:

1. Serenata
2. Ridin' High
3. Wabash Blues
4. Pennsylvania 6-5000
5. Yodel In Swing
6. Southern Fried
7. Eeny, Meeny, Miney Mo
8. Strut Miss Lizzie
9. Man About Town
10. Hawaiian War Chant
11. Music For All
12. The Dark Town Strutter's Ball
13. Anything Goes
14. Royal Garden Blues
15. Who's Sorry Now
16. In the Mood
17. Copenhagen
18. Woe Is Me
19. Amoresque
20. Plain Jane
21. Mia Mia
22. Give Out