Born on 23rd December 1951 in South London, England, Anthony Phillips was the guitarist in the first incarnation of the musical group Genesis. After featuring on their first two albums, From Genesis to Revelation, and Trespass, Phillips left the group to concentrate on his own solo career with his music ranging from classic English pop to long orchestral pieces, and from electronic music to guitar solos. He is somtimes credited on works under the name Vic Stench.
At the age of twelve Phillips formed his first band with Rivers Job called The Spiders whilst attending St Edmunds School in Hindhead.
His interest in music continued throughout his time at St Edmunds, so when he transferred to Charterhouse School in Surrey in 1965 with Job, he caried on his musical work and developed The Spiders into Anon with the help of Job, Richard Macphail, Rob Tyrrell and Mike Rutherford. Together they made their first stage appearance performing three tracks by The Rolling Stones. Not content with performing cover tracks, Phillips starter writing his own songs, the first being Patricia which later mutated into In Hiding which was recorded by Genesis.
The next year, 1966, Anon recorded a demo called Pennsylvania Flickhouse at Tony Pike Sound in Putney. The group played more concerts including a show at the Charterhouse Charity Beat Concert alongside The Garden Wall and The Climax.
Phillips, Mike Rutherford, Tony Banks and Peter Gabriel recorded demos of songs written by Phillips in 1967 to much success. Jonathan King offered the group a recording contract which they signed and the first recording of a Genesis track was made with Chris Stewart on drums. This track wasn't released, but more songs were written and recorded including The Silent Sun which was released in 1968.
This year also saw the release of A Winter's Tale and the recording on a number of demos in the aim of producing their first album, From Genesis to Revelation, at Regent Sound Studios. In the middle of this work, Chris Stewart left Genesis] with John Silver stepping in as a replacement.
John Silver didn't last too long in the group though, being replaced by John Mayhew the next year.
1969 also saw the group move into a cottage which was owned by Macphail's parents. Here they concentrated on writing material and preparing for gigs, the first of which was played at the home of a Mrs Balme, a friend of Gabriel's mother. Other concerts were played after this intitial appearance at universities and colleges which included playing as the support band for acts such as Deep Purple, Fairport Convention and Atomic Rooster.
By 1970 Genesis had been noticed by the media and they recorded a session for BBC Night Ride. The band then signed to Charisma Records and recorded Tresspass at Trident Studios with John Anthony as producer.
This time was a turning point for Phillips as he developed stage fright and consequently left Genesis with his last gig being in Haywards Heath on 18th July 1970.
"For me, when the band went on the road things began to go wrong and I think I realised at that point that this just wasn't the life for me. The fact that we all lived together in the same cottage probably didn't help after a while. It was great fun in an idealistic way but actually not terribly sensible for people getting on. I just found that the pressure of the whole thing got to me after a while as we had all these gigs where agents were coming along and I thought "I'm not sure I can deal with this". The group did need a bit of space at the time when I left, somebody needed to go and it was me who went first." - Phillips
This led to him writing his own solo material which were eventually released on The Duck and the Goose.
Back to School
Whilst writing solo pieces with Harry Williamson, Phillips decided to take up music lessons and started studying classical guitar, harmony and counterpoint at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama at the same time as taking piano lessons.
The next year, 1972, Phillips solo career gradually started to take off. His first experimental recording of Field of Eternity was made as well as demos for Mike Rutherford being recorded. Soundtrack work for a student film was also completed.
In 1973 work started moving a little faster. This year Phillips recorded:-
Phillips also worked on completing The Geese and the Ghost with Rutherford, the bassist from Genesis, as co-producer. This was Phillips first solo album, but includes Phil Collins on a couple of tracks giving an early Genesis sound.
As well as recording and writing, Phillips earned a teaching diploma in December this year and taught on a part time basis at Reeds School which he did unitl 1978.
The Geese and the Ghost was completed by 1975 at Tom Newmans studio, however wasn't released until 2 years later. In the meantime Phillips recorded more demos including Tarka and Gypsy Suite with Harry Wiliamson, material for the Private Parts and Pieces and material for a reworking of Macbeth. He also played the piano on tracks for Peter Gabriels solo work and started recording his first Library Music projects.
The Geese and The Ghost
In 1977 The Geese and The Ghost was eventually released. The of this album comes from two sounds on the synthesizer which Phillips used to record the album. One sound reminded Phillips and Rutherford of a flight of geese when it had a repeat echo effect added. Another made them think of ghosts.
Alongside the album release, Phillips went on a promotional tour of radio stations throughout America. Whilst he was there, he recorded a piece for the Intergalactic Touring Band album.
Wise After The Event
1978 saw the recording of the demo versionon Gypsy Suit with Harry Williamson and the recording of Tarka with the National Philharmonic Orchestra as well as the release of Phillips' second solo album, Wise After The Event. This album contains a number of electric progressive tracks with vocals featuring John G Perry on bass and Michael Giles on drums.
A UK radio promotional tour followed before a selection on recordings made from 1972 to 1976 were collated to make the initial Private Parts and Pieces album. Sides was also written and recorded this year and released the next year, 1979.
Next year came the release of Phillips' fifth solo album Private Parts and Pieces II:Back to the Pavillion as well as the writing of 1984, The Arboretum Suite and music for the ATV series Rule Britannia.
1984, his sixth album, was released in 1981. This was his first album on a new contract with RCA. This year saw another move for Phillips with him moveing from Send Barns to London and setting up new recording studios. He also started writing with Andy Latimer for an upcoming album for the group Camel.
This album, called The Single factor, was released the next year. Phillips also released his seventh solo album, Private Parts and Pieces III: Antiques this year as well as recording and co-producing Iva Twydells album Duel with Nick Battle and writing with Richard Scott for the Invisible Men album.
1982 was also the year that Genesis performed a reunion concert in Milton Keynes which Phillips didn't take part in.
"I think I was approached by Tony Smith who was managing Genesis as well as myself at the time to see if I would be interested in taking part and I said yes. However, before things went too far it was taken out of my hands and the Genesis management decided that I wouldn’t need to take part. I was in the middle of recording Invisible Men at the time and it was probably felt that I should concentrate on that. If I had been involved and had to chose a track to play I think I would have gone for something like Visions of Angels. - Phillips
More writing and recording came in the next few years for Phillips including:-
1987 saw more recording for Phillips. He produced Denis Quinns album Open Secret as well as releasing his twelth solo album entitled Private Parts and Pieces VII: Slow Waves, Soft Stars, and completed the album Tarka which was released in 1988.
A steady flow of recording happened from 1988 on including albums and music for television shows, the first being for Land of the Dragons for Anglia Television just before signing a recording contract with Virgin.
The release of Phillips' back catalogue, which was remastered with Simon Hayworth, was in 1991 alongside CD reissues of a number of previous albums. The next year Phillips' official fan club magazine entitled The Pavillion was introduced.
By 1995 Phillips was associated with Voiceprint records. Around this time he released the Gypsy Suite Cd, the Living Room Concert CD and Anthology CD. This compilation CD help him promote reissues which Voiceprint Records were making of his back catalogue. ALso this year, Phillips found a number of old tapes in his attic which included demos from 1969 which he had made with Mike Rutherford.
Work with Joji Hirota started in 1996 with work for a survival programme called Creatues of the Magic Water alongside the release of a number of albums and some collaboration work with Guillermo Cazenave. By the next year the work with Hirota was completed and the album Missing Links Volume Three: Time And Tide was released.
1998 saw a glut of releases. This included:-
The Genesis archive was complimented by a reunion dinner for the past and present members of the group and a photshoot at Heathrow Airport.
Since the turn of the Millenium Phillips work has been constant. After working on a commission for the BBC for Midway: Island of Life, he worked with Hirota again. This time for Jurassic Shark. Next he worked with Roger Patterson for a BBC Radio 4 drama production.
2001 started with more work on soundtracks for television including Bears of the Russian Front and Dungeons and Dragons. Phillips also started working on guitar material and plans for more new releases.
The launch of his official website gave him a higher profile with the public. With 10,000 hits in the first 8 months, it proved successful.
Virgin aquired the rights to Phillips' back catalogue in 1989. Since then they have reissued all of his albums up to that date with the exception of Tarka in Europe and Japan between 1990 and 1991. When Virgin was taken over by EMI in 1993, Virgin Venture, the label to which Phillips was signed, was closed down. This is when Phillips moved to Voiceprint records in a deal which gave Virgin the release rights to the back catalogue with the exceptions of The Geese and The Ghost, Wise After The Event and 1984.
However, somehow Virgin and EMI still hold the rights of these three album until 2003. This is the earliest date that Voiceprint could re-issue these albums and despite Phillips himself approaching Virgin, they were not happy to release these rights.