Roy Phillips

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Steve Hilliar Collection


The Legendary Roy Phillips  —  The voice of The Peddlers


Roy Godfrey Phillips  —  was born on the fifth of May 1943 in Parkstone, Dorset and adopted by Franky and Margaret Phillips after the death of their daughter, Christina.  Franky was a painter and decorator who specialised in renovating stately homes, including Beaulieu Palace, home to the famous motor museum.  His gold leafing and beading skills were second to none.  Franky's expertise in decorating to the exact specifications of the era led to a role as advisor to paint company scientists.  Franky loved his music.  Roy recalls fondly his Dad playing his collection of 78s on a wind-up gramophone.  They listened to Shirley Bassey, Ella Fitzgerald, Mario Lanza, Frank Sinatra ... all the greats of that era.  Roy inherited his Dad's love of music, so for his fifth birthday.  Franky bought him an old upright piano.  Piano lessons with a woman called Ada Sharp (A#) were short-lived because I got sick to death of having my hands smacked with a ruler.  Apparently Mrs Sharp died an unfortunate death, being killed by a number five bus.  At the age of eight or nine, Roy took up the guitar.  By fourteen he was playing in his first skiffle band at the Local Police Club.  During a gig at the Bournemouth Conservative Club, a local police sergeant discovered that Roy was playing in return for pints of beer.  He led the young lad home by the ear, gave him a cuffing at the door which was followed by a thrashing from his Mum.  Being a musician wasn't always easy.  At school Roy excelled in art classes.  When it was time for him to get a real job, Roy signed up for a seven year apprenticeship as a photo-engraver with the now-deceased Bournemouth Times.  He learned his trade from a former bank note engraver called Stan Harland ... a rotund gentleman with shoulder-length silver hair.


Roy Phillips - 1980

Roy Phillips

Roy Phillips in Amsterdam - 1980


At weekends Roy was gigging with The Dowlands at Joe Meek's Studio in Holloway Road.  And just two weeks after his apprenticeship ended, Roy moved to Shepherd's Bush in search of a musical career.  Roy's career took off in London in the early sixties at R.G.M Sound in Holloway Road - the brilliant Joe Meeks' Studio.  A popular group called The Outlaws provided backing for visiting artists.  When their guitarist Ritchie Blackmore (Deep Purple) pulled out of a gig, Roy took his place and found himself playing guitar for Jerry Lee Lewis at the Gaumont Cinema in Leicester.  Over the next year or so he played with The Dowland Brothers backing artists like Little Richard, Gene Vincent, Billy Fury, John Leyton, The Tornadoes, Freddy Starr, Bobby Vee and The Everly Brothers.  Roy was mixing with the big boys.

In Spring of 1963, Joe Meek persuaded Roy to leave The Soundtracks (originally known as The Drovers)The Dowlands' backing group, to work with Tab Martin and Ricky Winters, and together they formed The Saints originally as a backing group for Andy Cavell.  Joe Meek subsequently used The Saints on many of his recordings.  The trio consisted of Roy Philips on guitar, Tab Martin (born Alan Brearley, in Newcastle on Christmas Eve 1944), and drummer Ricky Winters (born 27 September 1940, in Aldershot, Hampshire).  Ricky Winters would later play drums with Screaming Lord Sutch and The Savages in the 1970s.  Roy Philips was the guitarist in a Bournemouth group who as The Soundtracks (originally called The Drovers) acted as back up band for Everly Brothers influenced duo The Dowland Brothers.  Andy Cavell and The Saints supported Jerry Lee Lewis and Gene Vincent during their British Tour from May 6th to June 2nd 1963 with The Outlaws backing Heinz but they were required to back Jerry Lee Lewis and Gene Vincent on the continent till the end of the summer season.  The Saints became the new backing group for Heinz on a series of package and variety shows while The Outlaws only supported him on his discs such as Just Like Eddie on Decca records.


The Saints and Heinz (bottom front) 1963
Roy Phillips, Tab Martin and Ricky Winters


The Saints and Heinz 1963
Roy Phillips, Heinz, Tab Martin and Ricky Winters


In February 1964, Heinz and the Saints took part in a package tour along with Johnny Kidd and the Pirates and Joe Brown and The Bruvvers, and then supported The Rolling Stones during their 3rd British tour the following month.  When Heinz moved to EMI Columbia, in April 1964, he used a new backing band, The Wild Ones, and The Saints called it a day.  Shortly thereafter Tab Martin and Roy Phillips teamed up with drummer Trevor Morais (formerly with Faron's Flamingoes, Rory Storm and the Hurricanes, and Ian Crawford and The Boomerangs) and together they formed The Song Peddlers.  The rest is well documented history .....


The Peddlers
Tab Martin, Roy Phillips and Trevor Morais 1980

Roy Phillips

The Peddlers
Tab Martin, Trevor Morais and Roy Phillips


The Peddlers: story begins at Joe Meek's Studio where Roy met Tab Martin.  The two worked together on various projects.  Trevor Morais had been drumming with Rory and the Hurricanes where he'd taken over from Ringo Starr.  He'd heard about Trevor and Roy and The Peddlers were formed in Chapel Street, Manchester - opposite Granada Studios Coronation Street set.  The Coro cast including Pat Phoenix were very supportive of the new band - Roy has had a soft spot for Coro ever since.  In 1963 the boys were practising in a basement beneath a sweet shop and searching for a singer to join their group.  Despite numerous advertisements, nobody was interested in their jazzy, Motown-like music.  So when they scored their first gig it was a reluctant Roy who provided vocals.  The first Peddlers performance was at the CIS Buildings in Manchester.  Jimmy Saville was the Master of Ceremonies and also on the bill that night were Roy Orbison, Wayne Fontana, Freddy and the Dreamers, Herman's Hermits and The Hollies.  They were hard acts to follow.  Roy recalls that by the end of their first number, three quarters of the hall had cleared - we died the most horrendous death ... but it gets better ... and the story continues ...


The Peddlers jumping their way along Oxford Terrace in Christchurch.  Roy Phillips, Trevor Morais and Tab Martin


Roy Phillips with Suzanne Lynch

Roy Phillips Reflections

Roy Phillips in The Groove Room


That's The Way 't Is

Heavy On The Light Side

Dancing With Shadows

The Peddlers Greatest Hits


Blue Groove

Blue Groove - Animated Promotional Film Clip

An Evening With Roy Phillips DVD


Pickwick Days:  Alan Lewis, The Peddlers original manager was replaced by Joe Collins - Joan and Jackie's dad.  Roy remembers one of his sayings: "In this business, my sons, you need 10% talent and 90% of the greatest luck in the world.  You're looking at your 90%." "WE ATE!" - AN EARLY ROYALTY CHEQUE The group scored a London gig at the Pickwick club in Great Newport Street.  This was in the middle of theatre land, in London's West End.  The audience loved them and they were invited to perform for a month.  Performing on a 1967 Dutch Television show, many of the show biz stars who frequented the Pickwick Club were forthcoming with advice for the young group.  People like Marcel Marceau, Mel Tormé, Richard Harris, Harry Secombe, Christopher Plumber, Sarah Vaughn, and even one Frank Sinatra.  Their one month residency turned into an eighteen month gig - the boys had hit the big time.  After producing a few singles they recorded their first live album Peddlers Live at The Pickwick in 1967 for Philips records.  Three of the prominent DJs of the time - Pete Murray, Dave Cash and John Peel - promoted The Peddlers work heavily.  Suddenly the boys were all over Radio 1, Radio 2, ITV and the BBC.  The English club circuit followed and The Peddlers found fame.  By appointment...  The Peddlers became the darlings of the theatre set and the Royal Family.  Princess Margaret instigated most of the "Royal Gigs" as they came to be known.



But it was Frank Sinatra who introduced The Peddlers to a world audience as they went stateside.  In the UK The Peddlers were spotted at the Pickwick Club by Frank Sinatra and Mel Tormé and for next five years did seasons at Eden Roc in Miami, The Flamingo Hotel and Caesar's Palace in Las Vegas.  During this time they worked with some jazz greats including Lena Horne, Nina Simone, Lou Rawls, Jimmy Durante, Louis Prima, Sergio Mendez, Sarah Vaughan, Pearl Bailey, Louis Belson, Timi Yuro and a whole lot more.  Back home The Peddlers were still in great demand for television, radio, the British Club scene and the European Circuit.  They recorded numerous hit singles and albums for CBS including Freewheelers, Three In A Cell, and Birthday and enjoyed a hit recording project for Philips with The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.  Suite London - Roy's first major writing concept, is now a collectors item.  From this point songwriting became Roy's main future.  He has had over 200 songs published with a lot more to come.  The Peddling Stops was the last Peddlers album was recorded at Billy Kristian's Muscle Music Studio in the far, far north of NZ.  Ownership issues meant that this album wasn't released until 2007, but success has its price, and although The Peddlers were popular worldwide, audiences wanted to hear their hits and you can only sing Girlie with passion so many thousand times.  During a tour of Australia Trevor announced that he was sick of performing the same act, night after night and he left the group to join Roger Whittaker.  Tab vanished to Portugal.


Downunder, whilst touring New Zealand in 1969, Roy had fallen in love with the country and its people, and he moved here in 1981, to continue writing and performing in this country as well as Australia.  As far as the music world was concerned, Roy had disappeared.  That's when the rumours started.  So where is Roy today?  The internet is filled with wonderful speculations and hypotheses, but whatever you've read online about Roy's adventures for the past 20 years, it's probably wrong.  You may have heard a story that Roy was driving a taxi in Sydney?  Sorry, but it's just not true.  Although he avails himself of taxi services from time to time, Roy has neither owned nor driven a cab.  Then there's a tale that has Roy owning a recording studio in Auckland.  Same story, I'm afraid.  Although Roy has frequented numerous studios during his career, he's never owned one until he set up The Groove Room at his home in Christchurch in recent times.  What about the restaurant in Paihia? - well actually, this one is true.  Roy did operate a modest café in the north of New Zealand for a few years, but he says, "That's an episode which is best forgotten".  Perhaps the weirdest rumour was the one that had Roy dying of an unknown cause.  The venerable Bournemouth Echo even published a brief obituary in 1994.  Roy believes that the rumours of his death were greatly exaggerated.  He has continued composing, and provided music for a number of entertainment programmes and series for Television New Zealand.  If you were living in New Zealand at the time you would have seen Roy associated with a few charitable events.  In 1996 he composed The Dream - the theme song for the New Zealand Olympic Team.  A CD was given to each athlete and New Zealand's then top-ranked track and field athlete, Beatrice Faumuina found the song extremely motivational.  For a good few years Roy lived in Queenstown, but now resides in Christchurch.


Top half of a photo montage from Roy's Standard Procedure Trilogy CD insert


Additional Roy Phillips and related group information is available on the Audio Culture Website .....


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