John Wirtz

Tribute by JOHN WIRTZ

Stacy Phillips passed away on June 5th following a heart attack. He was found unconscious in his car after playing a gig in his home town of Hartford, Connecticut and despite being taken into hospital, never regained consciousness.

Phillips has been active on the US Bluegrass scene since the 1970s and is the author of many instruction books and DVDs. Stacy taught twice at Sore Fingers Week in years 2000 and 2001 and over the years he has taught countless pickers at camps and through private lessons, and has remained an active performer until his heart attack. Stacy was well known for expanding people’s repertoire and venturing into Jazz and Hawaiian music alongside the Bluegrass stuff. Most recently he has been playing regularly with several eclectic lines of musicians.

The Sore Fingers Week connection:

Back in 1999, Lenny Harvey persuaded me to run a Dobro class at Sore Fingers Week. Initially and based on the fact that I only knew a handful of Dobro players on the UK Bluegrass scene, we booked a UK tutor, Pat Francis. Pat had to pull out and having a few bookings in the bag, we decided to bring the person who had written “the book” for Oak Publications, Stacy Phillips.

With Lennie’s help and the ResoUK forum, we found almost 20 enthusiastic Dobro players and we were off! We’ve had a Dobro class every year since.

Stacy ran the very first class and here is the class photo of that year. So successful was it that the following year, we ran two classes one with Stacy and a second with Rob Ickes!

Back row, left to right: Henry Nield, Mike Pryor, Martin Froud, Bill Dalton, Lenny Harvey, David Clark, Bill Griffin, Roy Ray, Peter Woodman, Ken Scullion, Bob Armstrong, Malcolm Cox, Chris Elson, Les Cook. Front Row, left to right: Keith Bowdler, Peter Bromage, Dave Currie, Stacy Phillips, Dave Thorpe, Kevin Garratt. Photographer: unknown.

So, we’ve lost the man who put this class on the ,map and he was followed by such luminaries as Sally van Meter, Ivan Rosenberg, Doug Cox, Rob Ickes, Jimmy Herffernan, Mike Witcher and Billy Cardine, quite a line up.

Many of the characters in the photo have moved on…some still playing some not; but all were regular attenders for several years and helped to promote the instrument on the British scene. So we owe Stacy a debt of gratitude and without him, it might have been several more years before we launched a Dobro class at Sore Fingers Week.


View features index