Phil Seymour on the net since 2013 · A tribute to Phil Seymour by Manolo Rock
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Phil Seymour, 1980
Phil Warren Seymour, known as Phil Seymour, was born on 15th May 1952 in Tulsa (Oklahoma, US). He was skillful with Power Pop, Rock, and New Wave. Singer, songwriter, producer, and multi- instrumentalist (drums, guitar, and bass) and left his mark on every single project he participated in along his career between 1974 and 1993. In 1967, Seymour met Dwight Twilley’s guitarist in a Tulsa’s theatre where they went to watch The Beatles’ A Hard Day’s Night. Apparently, they had chemistry for they started writing and recording songs as Oister, period that lasted until 1974. That year they signed for Shelter Records (Los Angeles) and Dwight Twilley Band was born. Phil played the bass, drums and sang; Dwight was in charge of guitar, piano and songwriting; Bill Pitcock IV was the solo guitar and the third band member with “no right appear in photographs”. A snatch of their first album, which was going to be called “Fire”, was recorded Trident studios in England with the producer Robin G. Cable (Queen, Elton John, Genesis…). That expense left no room for investing in the promotion of their single “I’m on fire” out in 1975. Also, the pictures of the cover have no quality since they were taken in a photo booth. However, this record reached #16 on Billboard. The unexpected success of “I’m on fire” made them to left out all the other recorded songs (except the one called “England” for a second album) and record new ones with the permission of Leon Russell, one of Shelter Records owners. They recorded 40 new songs in the studio with Roger Linn as engineer who also plays solo guitar and bass in some bridges. “You were so warm” was out as a second single, but this time Russell and Cordell (owners of Shelter Records) were estranged and this adversely affected the label and, therefore, Dwight Twilley Band. After that, the new distributor was ABC Records and the tunes of the English session were discarded from what was going to be called “The B Album”. Finally, after so many problems, their first LP “Sincerely” sees the light in 1976 with a modest #138 on the lists, but considerably accepted by specialized critics. During this time of confusion, Seymour and Twilley became friends with Tom Petty and participated singing the choir in some of his songs. This friendship would last over time. At that time, Shelter Records was still tumbling and agrees on the distribution of the second LP “Twilley don’t mind” in 1977 altogether with Arista Records. Tom Petty played guitar in “Looking for the magic”. This record had the approval of the media, however sales weren’t so good and Phil decided to quit Dwight Twilley Band a year later. During 1978, Seymour traveled to England with his manager and producer Denny Cordell (The Moody Blues, The Move, Procol Harum, Joe Cocker…) to participate in some sessions in Olympic Studios with musicians such as Chris Spedding, Alan Spenner and Neil Hubbard in London. He recorded three songs: “Who’ll be the next in line” (Ray Davies from The Kinks), “Baby’s a rock and roller” (Tom Petty) and “Looking for the magic” (Twilley). Meanwhile he was as well working on his solo career and collaborating with other musicians’ projects. He recorded the drums in the first 20/20 album and as well in Moon Martin’s “Shots from a cold nightmare”. Also, his friend Tom Petty asked him to sing the choir in “Breakdown” and “American Girl”. Between 1978 and 1980, he started bands with the same little repercussion and duration. That’s when he created The Feel, with Danny Roberts (guitar), Jeff Rollings (guitar), Michael Anderson (bass) and Lee Kix (drums). Soon enough, he contacted with Airtight since their drummer, Scott Musick, was and old friend of his in Tulsa. He offers them to be his support band and name themselves The Call. And we’re reaching the period that arouse my interest in this artist. It was 1980 and New Bogart founded Boardwalk Records and a few months later Phil signed a record deal with them to release his first homonymous LP. This treasure of pop was produced by Richie Podolor also known as Richard Allen (Iron Butterfly, Steppenwolf, Alice Cooper…), as well as setting his studio American Recording in LA with his brother Don and his mother Ethel. Richie has been present, in a positive way, in almost every period of Phil’s life. “Precious to me”, written by Seymour was the first single to be released. #22 on US Billboard and a superb #3 in Australia that made him win a gold disk. “I really love you” (Seymour) was #13 in South Africa. This essential LP also includes “Trying to get to you” (McCoy & Singleton), a song played by lots of artists along time (Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison, Ricky Nelson, Etic Burdon…) where a grand Lennon sings. Also “Baby it’s you” (Seymour) was deservedly included in the compilation album “Poptopia: Power Pop Classics of the 80s” from Rhino (1997). Also, a revision of Bobby Fuller’s “Let her dance”, which in my opinion is way better. “We don’t get along” written by Kathy Valentine (Textones and Go-Go’s). “I found a love” (Blessas), “Love you so much” and “Then we go up” frm Dwight Twilley and “Don’t blow your life away” and “Won’t finish here” written by Bill Pitcock. It seems obvious that a glimmer of Dwight Twilley Bad was always with our heor. Also mention that “Suzie Glider” (Seymour & Twilley) was the B side to “Precious to me” and “Baby it’s you” and I don’t think ir was released in any official albums nor rereleases. Everything was like a clockwork and his second LP titled “2” was released. He even had his tune “When I find you” in the “The last American virgin” OST along with U2, The Cars and Devo among others. The fame he got with his debut album started devouring Seymour and once again Rock and Toll seemed to be looking for a new martyr. Almost in heaven, a cruel falling began; just like many other talented people that were born to lose. Looking back, what was included in “2” was not that disastrous, but was recorded hastily and the mixes weren’t made by Richard Podolor and his engineer Bill Cooper. Phil opted for taking the masters to Val Garay’s studios and finished the recordings just in a weekend with questionable results (some talk about drug and alcohol problems and an urgency for cash to keep up with his lifestyle). In fact, Neil Bogart paid for that work and couldn’t keep Podolor mixes. “2” wasn’t warmly welcomed, but went unnoticed. And, as they say, when it rains it pours, and Neil Bogart founder of Boardwalk Records died a few days after its release. The label went bankrupt and that was a key factor for the end of Phil Seymour’s solo career (nothing new for him, since he suffered something similar with Shelter Record and the Dwight Twilley Band). “2” was barely promoted and a few months later was removed from shops. Even so, this album has a hit “Surrender”, written by Tom Petty plus “Better to me than you” (Seymour) that were the singles. “Talk to me” with a new voice recording and as double A Side was his last card. In “Dancing a dream” he shows a little more rocker attitude moving away from that Power Pop sound he mastered. Another tune he cowrote was “Suffering” with Jimmie Podlor. Although some say that we didn’t write a word or contribute with a single note and that this song really belongs to Jimmie and a guy called Cow… Bob Cowsill? Let’s take a leap in time, which I think is needed, to understand better the previous paragraph. In 2011 Fuel Records reedited that album as “The Phil Seymour Archive Series vol. 2” and included nine out of the ten original songs (“Looking for the magic” was out since they included as a bonus track in the vol. 1) plus ten new tunes recorded between 1982 and 1984 that could have been part of a third solo album. What’s more, the songs corresponding to the second LP are the original mixes (Polodor’s), the ones they did not released before and altogether it reaches another dimension. A wonderful one. If you ever have the chance to give it a listen, do it. Let’s go on. Back to 1984, Seymour joins the Textones, a band leaded by Carla Olson and George Callins. He recorded “Midnight Mission” and started touring as a singer and drummer with them. Sadly, during the tour in 1985 he starts noticing lumps in his neck and he’s diagnosed with tumors. In 1988, he went back to Tulsa to continue his treatment against cancer and to be with his family and friends. Although he does not quit music, his activity -for obvious reasons- is limited to recordings and specific concerts in the local scene and according to his state of health. In 1989, he spent time in a cover band called The Notions. At the end of that year, he felt lively and in the mood of writing. He met with two good friends, Bob Parker and Bob Martin, and home recorded a few songs with a drum machine. In December, he went to LA with Bob Parker to record “She’s gonna be fine”, “Love is so contagious”, “Easily distracted” and “Sin city”. In that session, Pirde Hutchisonun, who was a close friend of Phil from the last band he had in LA, also participated. The Mystery Band, formed by members of Dwight Twilley Band in all its stages (Seymour, Pitcock, Twilley, Bingo Sloan, Jerry Naifeh and Robbie Amstrong) was one of the most popular bands in their city between 1988 and 1992. In 1991, Rubber City Rebels’ guitarist proposed him to record the voices for a project that was funded by Clic and that was eventually released in cassette named “Buzz Clic with Phil Seymour”. In 2005 Smog Veil Records rereleased this work as Buzz Clic Adventure (California) and is currently available on iTunes. Another adventure as a vocalist was in a band called The Zings with whom he edited the album “Age of technology” in 1992. That year, he also collaborated in the choir parts with The Legendary Hitchhikers, which was also released in cassette. In 2012, Karen Mommo, president of his Fan Club, through Bison Records (Danny Baker) released 7 unheard songs from sessions that took place between 1991 and 1992. The design of the cover is hideous, and the only thing that is okay is Phil Seymour’s beautiful picture and the hope and emotion they put in release these materials. In the Discography section, you will see a full list of all the works he participated in. Phil Seymour passed away last 17th August 1993 in Tarzana Medical Center in LA (California, US). He was only 41 years old. If there were no guys like Phil, history of Rock would lack legends to brighten up our days. Long live Tulsa Sound!
Dwight Twilley Band (photo by Robert Freeman, 1975) Robin G. Cable in Trident Studios. London (UK) Phil Seymour in concert (1982) Phil on drums with The Textones Phil with The Mystery Band (1990)
Saul Davis (Seymour's manager), Phil, Bogart and Peter Paterno (Seymour's attorney)
Phil in 1982
Dwight y Phil
Robin C. in Trident. London
Phil with The Textones
Phil in Tulsa, 1990
Leon Russell, Shelter Records partner Boardwalk Records logo Shelter Records logo Denny Cordell, Shelter Records partner Neil Bogart, founder of Boardwalk Records
Shelter Records (logo)
Leon Russell Denny Cordell
Boardwalk Records (logo)
Neil Bogart
Phil Seymour stripes
B side: Suzie Glider
B side with the song Suzie Glider
Saul Davis (Seymour's manager), Phil, Bogart and Peter Paterno (Seymour's attorney)
Photo by Susan Murray