Phil Chen, Influential Session Bass Player Dead at 80

Influential Jamaican session bass player who spent a big portion of his career in the UK music scene, Phil Chen passed away last night at the age of 80. 

Phil Chen

Since the 1960s, Phil Chen has collaborated with a number of well-known musicians. Phill started his career by joining Jimmy James and the Vagabonds before discovering that the music world needed more session musicians and this way he could also make much more money as a sideman.

He started collaborating with well-known artists in the UK music scene, most notably he played on Jeff Beck’s album Blow by Blow. He also collaborated with artists such as Donovan and Joan Armatrading.

Later on, he joined a new band which included Robby Krieger and John Densmore from the Doors called The Butts Band, and recorded their self-titled debut album. He is also remembered for being a member of Brian May’s Star Fleet Project in 1983, alongside Eddie Van Halen.

In 2004, he joined a new band by The Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek and guitarist Robby Krieger (with whom he had previously played in The Butts Band) as a reformation of The Doors. He also played in ska and reggae soca bands, including Trinidadian steel drummer Einstein Brown’s Sapadilla reggae/soca band, which included guitarist Dale Hauskins.

A lot of musicians showed their respect to Phil on social media, including Tony Franklin who wrote, “Another great one has left us. Your bass playing is only surpassed by your kindness”.