Updated: Feb 25, 2022
British born drummer phenom kicks off the Yoshi's drummer showcase, marking their 50th Anniversary in Jack London Square.
If you are unfamiliar with the name Simon Phillips, you are not alone. I hadn't known his name either. But fortunately my partner and some friends are drummers so they informed me of his appearance at Yoshi's, Jack London Square in Oakland earlier this month.
If you are in a band, or simply a music lover that knows drummer excellence, you are well aware of who Simon Phillips is, and what this drummer brings to the table. This guy is a drummers' drummer, and all the biggest bands on the planet want this guy to play with their band. I'm talking about giant bands such as The Who, The Rolling Stones and Led Zeppelin. They have all called on Mr Phillips to fill in after their drummers unfortunately suffered untimely deaths. Phillips filled in on the 1989 tour with The Who, a decade after they lost their beloved, Keith Moon late in 1978. Kenny Jones filled in for the first few years, after Moonie left us, but as Roger Daltrey said, "Kenny Jones isnt a bad drummer, and he's not a bad guy, he's just the wrong drummer for The Who". I couldnt agree more! Simon Phillips was also the only drummer that Mick Jagger has ever used on the road besides Charlie Watts (before Watts' death), and he was the drummer that Jimmy Page called to sit on the throne after John Bonham died. Simon Phillips eventually took over the position of drummer for 21 years, after Jeff Porcaros' unexpected death in the band Toto. He was the drummer for Toto from 1992-2013.
These gigs were only a few that Simon Phillips worked on during the past five decades. He is one of the most accomplished and busiest drummers of our time. He's played with greats such as Bob Dylan, Roxy Music, Brian Eno, Joe Satriani, Judas Priest, and Jeff Beck (famous for his "Space Boogie" on the album "There and Back") and many many more top bands that have called on Phillips since the 1970s.
Simon Phillips originates from a little town in Hertforshire which neighbours North London called Bushey. Coinsidentally, I also lived in this little town for many years. I'm realizing that our kids may have gone to the same school as there was only one primary school in Bushey Village. Simon now calls sunny Los Angeles, California his home.
I had not known of Phillips before this show at Yoshi's. After seeing him play and being aware that most of the sold out audience at this show were pro musicians, (probably mainly drummers)...that says a lot for his elite level of musicianship that I witnessed at this show. Infact, when we sat down at our little four person table, we just happened to be sharing it with Tommy Igoe and his friend, who was also a drummer. Before we left that night, Tommy convinced Mike and I to return the following week to see his show. We did, and the blog and photo gallery of that show to follow. Watch this space.
As I shot this show, I was able to shoot from backstage some of the time. When I did, I was able to feel what it was like to be almost 'inside' his elaborate drum set up, as I stood just behind him at side stage. (Pictured below).
During his set, he spoke to the audience a lot and one of the stories he told was about the gong drum that he was playing at Yoshi's that night. Apparentley it was lent to him by Tim Alexander of Primus....dropping the drum off just two hours before the show. It sounded amazing, as did his entire kit!
Phillips played for just over an hour, with some of the best musicians I've had the priviledge of seeing. The sax player Jacob Scesney, was a standout for me, as he was outstanding. A super star for sure! The other players were also a level of excellence you dont see often. They were comprised of, keyboardist Otmaro Ruiz, Scesney on sax, and guitarist Alex Sill.