Famous friends

Throughout all these years in the music business, Shawn has met and maintained friendships at different levels with many other great artists. Here are some of them.
J. Peter Robinson The musician I have collaborated with the most is Peter Robinson. He is a brilliant pianist, composer and arranger. We have played together on numerous of my albums (and tours). Today, Peter’s work can be heard on TV shows, movie soundtracks, and several other artists’ and groups’ recordings.
Paul-Buckmaster Composer/Cellist Paul Buckmaster has worked a lot with me also. He has arranged some of the most beautiful string orchestration on my albums. Paul’s works can also be heard on movie soundtracks and several other artists’ and groups’ recordings.

Read Shawn’s tribute letter to late Paul Buckmaster.

Joni Mitchell Circa 1962-63, I gave Joni Mitchell some early guitar lessons, when she was a waitress, at the Louis Riel Coffee House, in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. She was already fairly comfortable with the instrument, but wanted to learn more about Shawn’s 12 string technique, and playing in general. I was booked there for about two weeks, so we did have time to get to know each other.
The Beatles I was invited a couple of times to Paul McCartney’s and George Harrison’s house. We were on a very friendly basis. Paul invited me to a session, and I ended up singing background vocals on “Lovely Rita Meter Maid”, and we saw each other socially many times after that, at the Moody Blues house, and various clubs around London. I gave George some basic lessons on sitar, before he ever actually met Ravi Shankar. It was basically the same with John and Ritchie (Ringo). Although, I never went to their houses.
Carly Simon I knew Carly Simon, when she was in New York. We used to work “The Bitter End” together, on various occasions, and she came to see a few gigs of mine, on her own, before she got with James Taylor. I have not seen her in years however.
Donovan I co-wrote some of the music and played sitar on Donovan‘s albums during my career debut. We also did a U.S. tour together, and shared an apartment for a while in England.
Paul Simon At one point, a young guy came by saying he needed a place to stay while he was in London, so he moved in too. His name was Paul Simon. He had bad management at the time, so I introduced him to my then manager, a man named Ashley Kozack. Ashley took over his career, and it began to flourish.
Eric Clapton Eric Clapton played on the Contribution album, and he and I used to talk together.
Steve Winwood Steve Winwood participated on the Contribution and Faces album and still remains a good friend of mine.
elton_bernie.jpg Bernie Taupin and Elton John…I knew them quite well, as they worked together a lot on Bernie’s poetry albums. Bernie and Elton were just getting started when they were doing that. Elton was still the mail boy for Dick James Publishing in London. The studio was in the offices there. He was not Elton at the time. His name was still Reggie.
Yes I toured as the opening act in England and Holland in 1972 with Yes. Half way through the tour, the manager of Yes, threw me off the tour, because I was getting a better audience reaction than Yes was.
Rick Wakeman Rick Wakeman did some keyboards on the Contribution album
Steve Morse In ’89, I collaborated with Steve Morse and Steve Walsh of the group “Kansas” on two songs “Phantoms on the Santa Fe” and I can’t remember the name of the other one. Steve wrote the music and I wrote the lyrics. They recorded the songs for the album “Spirit in the Sky”. MCA Records decided the songs were not commercial enough, so they deleted them from the album.
Caleb Quaye Elton John’s guitarist, Caleb Quaye, contributed to several of my albums. Caleb is now an ordained minister in his church, and he does no commercial work any longer. “Beyond Here Be Dragons” was the last album he ever played on.
Tim Hardin I roomed with Tim Hardin and played with him in the Greenwich Village folk scene for a while during the early ’60s.
Ravi Shankar I learned my first techniques on the sitar with Ravi Shankar.
Alphonso Johnson Bassist Alphonso Johnson played with me on “Beyond here be Dragons”.
Delbert McClinton I went to school with Delbert McClinton, and played in a band with him called “The Straight Jackets” in Fort Worth TX in 1957.
Moody Blues I use to hang out with the guys in The Moody Blues when I lived in London.
Bill Cosby Bill Cosby and I worked the clubs in NY City together. In between going from one club to the other, we would stop at the “Kettle of Fish” bar and have a couple of drinks together. This went on for two years.
Bob Ezrin Bob Ezrin and I have collaborated on a lot of music. Mr. Ezrin was the producer of many groups like Pink Floyd, Kiss, Alice Cooper, Rod Stewart, Aerosmith, etc…He remains one of my dearest friends.
ZZ Top ZZ Top are some of my friends. Me and Dusty used to play together in a club called “The Cellar” in Fort Worth, and Houston.
Jerry Moss I consider Jerry Moss the only man in the music business that has any integrity at all. He believed in me when I began with A&M, and still believes in me today, although he cannot do anything for me now.
Michael Kamen Michael Kamen and I have worked together for many years. We collaborated on many things. Michael Kamen was the arranger for the Transcedence album, and when he was the leader of the New York Rock and Roll Ensemble, I wrote the lyrics for some of their songs.
Francesca Annis Francesca Annis is a well known actress both in film and television, and she is also a trained Shakespearian actress. She was my leading lady in the film, “Run with the Wind“. We went together for about 3 years. She is the woman that I wrote the song “Woman” and “Hey, Miss Lonely” for. I also wrote “For Her”, for her. 🙂
John Denver John Denver and I went to the same high school, his real name was John Deutchendorf. We used to hang out together in Ft. Worth and often went out to the desert and played at campfire parties. We never had much contact after John became known.
Cass Elliot I had a relationship with the late Cass Elliot from the popular Mamas and Papas FlowerPower group of the 60’s.
Mike Miller If you were going to play with Miles Davis, you had better know what the hell you are doing. Mike Miller knows what he’s doing. No one can create a guitar solo like Mike Miller !!! Yes, yes, you got guys that can pay a guitar solo all over the place, but they’re all sort of predictable in the end. With Mike, you will be surprised, and amazed, with every take. It becomes very, very difficult to choose which one to use, because each take is completely different from the previous one. His creativity knows no end. Another facet of his playing is that sometimes it only takes 2 notes to completely change, and improve the whole feel of a piece of music, or a song. At the present, we are both raising small children, and we correspond on their evolution. I consider him a dear friend as well.
Leland Sklar Over the years, I have worked with some of the best Bass players in the world. Well, as far as I am concerned, Lee is THE best. He is the singular most lyrical player I’ve ever heard. His instrument becomes a voice that compliments whatever melody has been composed, while at the same time keeps the low end somewhere below the basement. He and his wife Maureen, are renowned collectors of memorabilia, and their home is the most incredible place to visit you can imagine. Walking through there leaves you breathless. He is also a proud protector of several venerable Bassett Hounds, as are my wife and I, and we correspond often about the antics our respective Bassett’s are up to. He is, above all else, a gentleman, and I am proud to be able to call him a friend as well.
Ralph Humphrey Here in South Africa, a few years ago, I listened to a drummer named Barry Van Syl playing, and I thought to myself, that his playing sounded oddly familiar for some reason. Later that evening over dinner, I asked him if he had ever heard of Ralph Humphrey. Barry got an indignant look on his face, and said, “Ralph… is my teacher”. Barry would travel to the United States to study under Ralph twice a year. He teaches at the Los Angeles Music Academy, and is considered the drummers drummer. I have worked with Ralph on many occasions, and we became good friends as well. I won’t even start to try and list his credits. Let me put it this way. If I need a drummer for a project, I will wait until he is available, no matter how long it takes. He’s that good.
Rick Hart One of the most important things when you’re working in the studio is to maintain a level of high hilarity at all times. You do not even for a moment think about the commercial ramifications of what you are doing. You concentrate on making the finest, and most precise execution of the music, and the clearest sound possible. This is achieved by laughing as much as possible. Rick Hart is one of those people who laughs a lot. His joy is infectious. He is also the only engineer I have ever known that can walk into an unknown control room, and understand the room like he’d been working in it for years, in minutes. I will work with Rick every chance I get. He is one of my closest friends, and I consider him to be at the top of the list in recording engineers.



16 responses

26 07 2009

[…] Shawn never achieved the fame of some of his friends, he seems satisfied with his achievements and says that his defining moment was a standing ovation […]

9 01 2010
steve thornton

thoroughly enjoy visiting your site

all the best for the new year

hope to be travelling this year

thinking of dropping in to say hello

on the way to or from Amsterdam and Positano.

all photographs that I had were left in London

or burnt when my neighbour decided to do a burn off

and destroyed my place

peace to everybody


9 01 2010
steve thornton

As a post script

I have some recordings of John Denver on the road in Alaska.

I remember Dick James studio and El Ballade

I suggested that the harp would be a great instrument

to find for the song

It still remains a favourite of mine


29 10 2010

Hi Steve,
Cheeky of me to ask, but i am a huge John Denver fan, and collect as many dvd/videos as i can find (also audio cd). I note you said you had recordings of John “on the roads in aslaka), and wondered if these are audio or video.If you have these recordings, would there be a glimmer of a chance you could do copied and send them to me.
Doubt i have anything in my JD collection that would interest you,but always willing to trade.
Keeping everything crossed.
Peace my friend
Alfie (England)

1 12 2010

Hey, what about adding Johnny Winter to
the list? I saw Shawn perform in the late
70’s, and he told a pretty funny story about
driving across country with Johnny and
Tim Hardin…

26 04 2012

Re: your post about Jerry Moss…that ‘ he can’t do anything for me now.’
You have done it, on your own.
Had you broken into pop-rock popular, you and your music would not have had the clarity and meaning given to us today.

23 12 2012

[…] "I roomed with Tim Hardin and played with him in the Greenwich Village folk scene for a while during the early ’60s"   https://shawnphillips.wordpress.com/famous-friends/ […]

19 05 2013
Dan-Al Blanc

Hi ! I would sincerely like to know if Rick Wakeman really played on Shawn Phillips’s Second Contribution album, and if so, on what songs exactly ! Considering that there already three keyboardists on that album, I doubt it. I’ve been trying to find out for years now and never really had an answer to that, so if anybody could answer to my question, it would really be appreciated. Thank you for your time…

20 05 2013
Jean Boissonneault

Acording to Shawn, he played on “Contribution” album only. However he is not credited on the album.

20 05 2013
Dan-Al Blanc

Yeah and according also to Shawn Phillips, he played on a Beatles song on Sgt Pepper’s, although that was never proven. I think that there are a few mistakes here and there on the man’s memory… According to the information I have gathered on the official website of Mr. Phillips, on the page of his discography, there is no mention of Rick Wakeman nowhere, while all the other musicians are described, why? And what is its participation in a Beatles album, Lovely Rita on Sgt Pepper’s as it is rumored, I think Mr. Philips is wrong, and again I ask myself, why? And if you look at the law today, it is stipulated that artists are now forced to name the musicians who played on their records, so why not name Rick Wakeman was already a big name to that time and now a legend?

21 12 2013

It was a common practice for many musicians who were under contract with another artist and/or label to go without credit on a friends recording. As a well known example- on Jimi Hendrix’ “Electric Ladyland” there were so many people in the studio at the time, many under prior contracts, to list or credit them on the album.

8 12 2014
Shiloh Noone

Dan I have a photograph of Shawn in the Abbey Road recording booth , notably Wakeman’s name doesn’t even appear on Cat Stevens’ Morning has Broken or the Black Sabbath album? I am a personal friend of Rick , we play gold together and he confirmed he did some sessions with Shawn , he did many arguably ,

21 12 2013
Sue Gafford Piner

Very interesting. I remember taking Shawn to the Celler in Ft Worth to meet the band. Etc,etc,etc.

16 04 2014

Shawn is my favorite musician, bar none. I think I have seen him play in Austin, Texas about fifty times since 1970. He used to play many shows while he was here, and I saw them all. Memory fails me, but I think he did a couple of shows per night sometimes two nights consecutively. He drew enough people the crowd out the Armadillo, the Paramount, and the old Palmer Auditorium. To witness a Shawn Phillips show is to wonder if he really is a human. The voice range of a piano, double jointed telescoping fingers, passion that is palpable, lyrics that one could study as many do the Bible, and a personality that makes you feel like an old friend is beyond human. He joined me, before his show at the now gone Liberty Lunch, in an early video game called, “Tank.” Shawn Phillips is beyond compare. No one can touch his stuff. How fortunate I am to have stumbled into the Armadillo in 1970 while he was setting up for a show, tuning his sitar. It was early evening, around six. The place was not even open yet, but the door was. People keep walking in and cheering the tuning sounds. Shawn played for us until about nine that evening, telling Sitar stories, and playing. He then said he would now leave the stage to go prepare for the show! I don’t remember with certainty, but I think he played until about one am. He dressed in all white and looked like a yoga instructor. Thank you, Shawn Phillips for all the music and good times. I hope to have a private show this year, 2014. Love, Nickey Bishop

13 05 2014
Dan Martinez

As a record buyer for a chain of stores in the 70’s I became a big fan of Shawn. His music and talent is amazing. I have always felt close to his music and glad that I had the chance to carry and promote his music. I can’t think of anyone that was not spell bound when they heard his music or better yet saw him in concert. Surrounded by 6 guitars alone on stage just amazing.

8 12 2014
Shiloh Noone

Shawn is a Progressive multi-instrumentalist that only reached discernible ears in the seventies, albeit highly regarded by many top musicans as a genius . He was never commercial and never intended to be, so like Comus, Bill Fay, Michael Chapman or Isaac Guillory focused on musicianship. Rated globally as one of th top twelve string guitarist and alto soprano Gregorian vocalists he is the Holy Grail for those that seek truth in music. I once stood at the 101 Club watching A Fairport Convention reunion and Rabbit Bundrick ambled up to me asking about Shawn, THAT SAYS IT ALL ?

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