Tuesday, December 17, 2019

R.I.P.: Jud Phillips, Music Industry Veteran

Jud Phillips, a key member of Memphis music’s first family, has died at age 71, following a battle with cancer.

Jud Phillips
Born into the music business, Phillips enjoyed a wide-ranging six-decade career. He began as a teenager learning the business at Sun/Phillips International Records, then went on to become an engineer at the Sound Factory and Dimension Recorders in California, before going to work as an executive for Bell Records and Mercury Records.

A managing partner of Phillips Music, he had closely overseen the family’s studio operations in recent years 

The Tennessean reports the Phillips family confirmed his death in a statement, noting that Jud died peacefully at home, “holding hands with his wife Rose, and with his son Bryant’s hand over his heart.”

Among the sometimes-flamboyant personalities of the Phillips clan, Jud cut a quiet, businesslike figure. Blessed with a sharp intellect, he had a keen sense of how to maintain the delicate balance between art and commerce.

His father J.W. Phillips was a key figure in the evolution of Sun, the company founded by his uncle Sam Phillips. In addition to helping define the role of the promotion man in rock 'n' roll, J.W. would go on to manage the career of Jerry Lee Lewis for nearly two decades.

After receiving degrees in business and psychology from Memphis State University, Phillips moved to California in 1968 where he worked as assistant to Jack Good, the “Shindig!” creator, TV rock pioneer and Columbia/Screen Gems producer.

In 1969, Phillips would take a job as a recording engineer at Hollywood’s Sound Factory studios, working a with a collection of artists that included The Jackson 5, Nancy Sinatra, Randy Newman, Ry Cooder and Dr. John, among many others.

Phillips eventually made the move to A&R (Artists and Repertoire). In 1972, he got a job working for Bell Records in New York City, and several years later became director of operations for Phonogram/Mercury Records, when the company opened up offices in Memphis. At Mercury, he helped sign several Stax veterans to the company, including the Bar-Kays, William Bell and Eddie Floyd, and was instrumental in the career of R&B hitmakers Con Funk Shun.

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