Phil Friendly

Posted by Dee-Ann On October - 20 - 20102,875 views

He’s one of the few Rockabilly artists I know who’s songs are featured in a movie soundtrack. Phil Friendly’s ballad ‘Every Single Day’ will be in the new film drama ‘Saving Grace B. Jones’ (which will be out in theatres in North America starting from January, 2011). ‘Monkey Bop’, ‘Complicated Man’ and ‘Savin’ Rasputin’ – were included into a soundtrack of the thriller ‘Tsunami Beach Club’.

Phil Friendly

I met Phil in the winter of 2010 at a Rock and Roll party in the Netherlands, where we played with both our bands. Phil was touring through Europe.

Which artists inspired you?
I assume this question focuses on rockabilly/roots music, so I’m not going to bore you with many names of my favorite classical music composers, although classical music was my first love/inspiration, ever since the days I studied playing the violin as a child. I’ve always been a Warren Smith fan, and when I say that I’m talking about his Liberty (country) recordings which I love as much as his early Sun stuff. Elvis, Roy Orbison, Rick Nelson and Johnny Cash have always been great inspiration. Ernest Tubb, Bob Luman, Wynn Stewart and many other country artists are definitely in my list as well.  And, of course, my great friend and hero Glen Glenn, who I’ve learned so much from.
Who influenced you in your music choice?
Certainly, my parents had a lot to do with it, having had an impressive record collection when I was growing up. Then again, living in Tennessee meant being exposed to various country and blues artists (radio, live music).  And, as I mentioned earlier, Glen Glenn really helped me discover and study the roots music when I was a kid.
Tell us about the time you met Johnny Cash
I was lucky to have met Johnny Cash and June Carter on several occasions, thanks to the agent I worked with at the time. I got to visit them at their cabin in Hendersonville (I believe Johnny Knoxville from MTV’s show Jackass purchased the property later on). That was back in the mid-90’s. They were very friendly and genuinely humble people. I also was fortunate to get acquainted with the legendary music producer, song-writer and artist Cowboy Jack Clement who wrote and produced many of Johnny’s Sun hits. I was jamming with Jack Clement at his house, playing Jack’s Martin acoustic, the very same guitar Johnny Cash played on all those great Sun classics (Ballad of a Teenage Queen, Guess Things Happen This Way, and many other great tunes written by Jack Clement for Cash).

Jamming with Jack Clement

Tell us about the time you got to meet Johnny and June.

As far as some other rock’n’roll celebrities/heroes I’ve had a chance to meet and work with, I could mention rockabilly legends Glen Glenn, who I played numerous shows with (and who, by the way, was the Best Man at my wedding), Mac Curtis, who I recorded and played various tours with, the great late Jody Reynolds (Mr. ‘Endless Sleep’), who I recorded with, the fantastic guitarist Al Casey (played on countless hits by Elvis, Dean Martin, Frank Sinatra, Johnny Cash, Simon & Garfunkel, and other greats) who I also recorded with, and, of course, I’d have to mention my two latest albums that I recorded with the Grammy-winning guitar legends Albert Lee and Pete Anderson. Ray Campi, Tommy Sands, Charlie Gracie… I really lucked out to have worked with so many of my heroes.

Phil with Albert Lee

How do you write your songs?
I’ve always felt that the results are far better when you’re having sudden waves of inspiration, so to speak. But then on a few occasions I did sit down and wrote songs especially for my publisher/manager, who happened to license some of my songs for movies and TV, and sometimes asked for a song with a particular feel.
None of my life situations or acquaintances have inspired my writing; everything I write is the product of my imagination, in other words, fiction.
I’m writing tunes more or less frequently, and have about 6 or 7 right now that I haven’t shown anybody yet. Maybe someday…

With Glen Glenn

Where do you shop for clothes?
I’m a sucker for vintage clothes. Here in the Los Angeles area there are quite a few vintage clothing stores (in Hollywood, Burbank, Long Beach etc.) so I’m fortunate enough to have a huge playground around here, haha. Also, whenever I go to other big cities like Nashville or New York I know the spots over there that are worth checking out.
What do you think about today’s rockabilly scene? Music, tattoos, pinups, …
I’m not that big on tattoos and pinups. Music is the thing for me. There are some good rockabilly/roots bands nowadays, so I think the scene is in a pretty good shape.
Are there any new bands you like in the scene?
I have a very bad memory when it comes to remembering the names of the bands I’ve seen over the years… I think ‘Cave Catt Sammy’ from San Antonio are a good band. Are they still around? I hope so… Here in LA we have a nice young band called The Blue Collar Combo. I occasionally play with some members of that cool rockabilly outfit. Like I said, there are many young musicians who are very gifted and, hopefully, will get their share of recognition…
Is there someone you look up to, who you’d like to meet?
There are many people I look up to, but either they are already deceased or I’ve been fortunate enough to have met them already.

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