"Sea of Love" chart topper Phil Phillips dies at age 94

(March 26, 2020) He was a Southern musical giant who brought his sounds to the world via a huge hit more than a half century ago, and continued his musical dream right into the new millennium. Local Louisiana station KPLC has reported that singer Phil Phillips, best known for the across the board 1959 smash “Sea of Love,” has died at age 94.

Phillips, born Philip Baptiste, was a local gospel singer in the Gateway Quartet and a bellhop when he recorded “Sea of Love.” The song changed his life. It first took off in Baton Rouge, but the rest of the US followed. After being issued nationally on Mercury Records, the song shot to #2 on the pop charts and #1 on the R&B charts.

(March 26, 2020) He was a Southern musical giant who brought his sounds to the world via a huge hit more than a half century ago, and continued his musical dream right into the new millennium. Local Louisiana station KPLC has reported that singer Phil Phillips, best known for the across the board 1959 smash “Sea of Love,” has died at age 94.

Phillips, born Philip Baptiste, was a local gospel singer in the Gateway Quartet and a bellhop when he recorded “Sea of Love.” The song changed his life. It first took off in Baton Rouge, but the rest of the US followed. After being issued nationally on Mercury Records, the song shot to #2 on the pop charts and #1 on the R&B charts.

Unfortunately, Phillips reportedly had signed a terrible deal on the song, and never really benefitted financially from the release, even as it maintained popularity via revivals over the years, including in the 1989 movie of the same name. The lack of a fair financial deal also kept Phillips from recording a full album to support the song.

Despite the lack of a fair shake on his biggest hit, Phillips continued recording in the 60s with moderate success, issuing such songs as “Don’t Leave Me,” Nobody Knows and Nobody Cares,” “No One Needs My Love Today,” and “The Evil Dope”

Phillips remained in Louisiana as a local disc jockey and continued to perform sporadically well into his 80s.

Phil Phillips’ story is a common one of both the creation of a classic song and the often brutal music industry. But he will be remembered especially in his home state for being a musical legend who continued to contribute for nearly a century.

By Chris Rizik

 

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