Friday, April 17, 2020

R.I.P.: Knox Phillips, Longtime Memphis Music Figure

Knox Phillips
Knox Phillips, son of the founder of Sun Studio and the man who discovered Elvis Presley, died Wednesday. He was 74 years old.

Born in Memphis in 1945 to parents Sam and Becky, joined together by their dedication as colleagues in radio, Knox’s association with Memphis music seemed predestined.

“He was a tireless ambassador for Memphis and Memphis music,” Jerry Phillips said of his older brother.

“He was the keeper of the flame of Sam Phillips, the Phillips family, and our independent spirit. He just was on a mission to promote Memphis music and make sure that nobody forgot about where it started – at least the part that our father played in it.”

With a very young Elvis
As Sam Phillips opened Memphis Recording Service in 1950, Knox was raised in the living room of rock-and-roll, as his father and his collaborators left an imprint on world’s collective conscience. As an adult, he’d continue that legacy, both by championing his family’s place in music and creating his own.

Through engineering and production for acts such as Randy & The Radiants, The Amazing Rhythm Aces, The Yardbirds, the late-John Prine and Willie Nelson, Knox Phillips garnered respect for his in-studio prowess. However, his benevolence and leadership left an impression on many other musicians, patrons and industry professionals, who remember him as a man whose spirit looms larger than the music he helped create.

As a trustee with the Nashville chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences, Knox Phillips was instrumental in establishing a Memphis chapter in 1973.

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