Sid Phillips was an English, composer, arranger, conductor & bandleader. He played the clarinet, alto sax & piano. He became known as “England's King of the Clarinet”.
Sid Phillips grew up in London's East End with his three brothers and four sisters. While still at school, Sid and his elder brothers Harry (trumpet) and Ralph (banjo), formed ‘The Riviera Five’. They were joined by Sid Kreeger (piano) and Joe Badis (drums) and were touring Europe as early as 1923. They recorded and became famous in much of Europe. “By 1927 they were renamed, 'The Melodians' and they were favourites in most fashionable European cities.”
“Sid Phillips was one of those rare British jazz artists. His personal musicianship was superb and he also demanded this standard from his players, yet he is strangely rarely mentioned as a major British jazz leader and influence.”
He became an arranger for the Lawrence Wright music publishing company and was soon working as a publisher and director for the Edison-Bell Gramophone Company.
In September 1930, Sid Phillips played clarinet & alto/baritone sax on a session with Harry Hudson. A Bench in the Park & Happy Feet were released on the Edison Bell Winner EBW 5160. Vocalist was Al Bowlly.
He also co-wrote Bathing in Sunshine which was recorded by the Roy Fox Orchestra in 1931, again featuring Al Bowlly.
In August 1931, Sid Phillips & his Melodians recorded four now very hard to find tracks on the Edison Bell Winner label. Roll On, Mississippi, Roll On; Heartaches; Time Alone Will Tell & Tell Me You Love Me. The last two written by Horatio Nicholls, who of course is Lawrence Wright. All four featuring Al Bowlly on vocals.
“Sid began writing arrangements for Bert Ambrose in 1930. He joined Ambrose’s band three years later and stayed with the band throughout it’s heyday until 1937”
In 1938, he travelled to the United States and played on radio and in clubs. He even recorded some big band sides. With WWII imminent, Sid returned to London.
“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 then put together his own quartet and wrote several pieces for the BBC Symphony Orchestra. He later 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. His sidemen included George Shearing, Colin Bailey, Tommy Whittle, and Kenny Ball.”
“Phillips's first recordings under his own name were made in 1928, and he continued to record as a leader into the 1970s. Phillips died in Chertsey in 1973.”