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 Fuller Up The Dead Musician Directory 
 
     Brewer Phillips 
     Brewer Phillips 
      August 30, 1999 
      Age 69   
 
Natural Causes 
    
    
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OBITUARY 
        
       
 
 
 
     
BLUESMAN BREWER PHILLIPS DEAD;
RECORDED WITH HOUND DOG TAYLOR

Blues guitarist Brewer Phillips, best known for his recordings and live 
performances as a member of Hound Dog Taylor and the Houserockers, died 
of natural causes in his South Side apartment on Monday, August 30, 
1999. 

His signature tune, "Phillips' Theme" was featured on Taylor's 1971 
debut album, HOUND DOG TAYLOR AND THE HOUSEROCKERS for the 
then-brand-new label, Alligator Records. That album was inducted into 
the Blues Hall Of Fame in 1996. The song (as well as "Phillips Goes 
Bananas") was recently included on DELUXE EDITION, a collection of Hound 
Dog Taylor's greatest recordings.  Phillips' unique style -- alternating between playing bass lines and wild lead guitar -- made the Houserockers rock without the need for a 
bass player. He was idolized by younger generation blues players, especially 
George Thorogood. 

According to Alligator Records president Bruce Iglauer, "Brewer was one 
of the rawest and most energized bluesmen I ever heard. His playing and 
singing were totally unpolished; he took lots of musical chances and 
made tons of mistakes, but his playing was full of infectious rhythmic 
drive, and he had more fun on the bandstand than virtually anyone I've 
ever seen.  His sound was from the earliest days of electric blues guitar. It 
combined Delta and Chicago styles with wild string bending, natural 
distortion and overdrive that younger blues rockers have never quite 
been able to match." 

In 1997, Phillips joined Cub Koda on Hound Dog Taylor's song, "Take 
Five," on Alligator's HOUND DOG TAYLOR -- A TRIBUTE. Hound Dog Taylor 
recordings featuring Phillips were 1974's NATURAL BOOGIE, and two 
posthumously  released albums: 1976's live, Grammy Award-nominated BEWARE OF THE DOG, and 1982's Grammy Award - nominated GENUINE HOUSEROCKING MUSIC. 

Phillips was born in Coila, Mississippi, probably in 1930, and grew up 
on a small farm. He started playing blues as a boy, and gigged around 
West Memphis in the late 1940s. First taught by Memphis Minnie, Phillips 
backed Roosevelt Sykes, Joe Hill Louis and Memphis Slim.  Phillips found 
work as a carpenter when he came to Chicago in 1952, and considered 
music mostly  as a hobby until he recorded with Taylor in 1971.  Phillips played in 
the raw, distorted style of West Memphis, but considered Memphis Minnie, 
Jimmy  Reed and Hound Dog Taylor the main influences on his music. He teamed up 
with Hound Dog in 1957 in a West Side tavern and stayed with him until 
Taylor's death in 1975. While with Taylor, Phillips played the Ann Arbor 
Blues Festival in 1970, 1972 and 1973, and toured nationally as well as 
touring Australia and New Zealand. 

After Taylor's death, Phillips continued making music. He gigged and 
recorded with J.B. Hutto and Cub Koda. He played the Chicago Blues 
Festival and released his only solo album, HOME BREW, on Delmark Records 
in 1996. Information on funeral arrangements is pending. 
 

    
  
 
 
 
       
 

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BIOGRAPHY
 
 
All-Music Guide
 
 Brewer Phillips is one of the more unique sidemen in Chicago blues history. His guitar playing 
 combines the rhythmic sense of an Eddie Taylor (an early childhood friend and fishing buddy) with 
 the stinging lead work of a Pat Hare. Born on a plantation in Coila, MS, he came under the early 
 tutelage of Memphis Minnie and grew up with the legends of the blues all around him, seeing many of 
 them perform first hand. After leaving Mississippi, he moved to Memphis, becoming a professional 
 musician and making his first recordings as a member of Bill Harvey's band, along with a session 
 behind pianist Roosevelt Sykes that has yet to surface. Best-known for his work as a member of the 
 Houserockers (see Hound Dog Taylor entry), his backup work behind Taylor -- a trio with no bass 
 player -- finds him alternating between the icepick-in-your-ear sheet-metal lead tones produced 
 from his battered Telecaster to comping bass lines while simultaneously combining chords, all of it 
 executed with a thumbpick and bare fingers. It's a sound totally rooted in the juke joint sounds of 
 Phillips's Mississippi upbringing and there's simply no equal to it in the blues today. Since Taylor's 
 death in 1976, he has recorded on his own and worked sporadically with J.B. Hutto, Lil Ed, Cub 
 Koda and others while remaining a largely shadowy figure in Chicago blues circles. -- All-Music 
 Guide, All-Music Guide
 
 
  
 
 

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