Memphis Music Ambassador Knox Phillips Dies

Memphis Music Hall of Fame member Knox Phillips died Wednesday (April 15) at age 74 after battling cancer for many years.

He was a studio owner, engineer and producer who was a tireless booster of Memphis music. Knox also organized the diverse music makers in his hometown and was a co-founder of the city’s chapter of The Recording Academy in 1973.

The son of legendary Sun Records founder Sam Phillips (1923-2003), Knox grew up in the shadow of that future Rock n Roll Hall of Fame and Country Music Hall of Fame member. But Knox Phillips began carving his own niche into the Memphis music scene as a youngster by recording such local pop/rock groups as Randy & The Radiants and The Gentrys.

He took over the family’s recording studio and subsequently engineered records by such artists as Willie Nelson (Shotgun Willie, Phases & Stages), Jerry Jeff Walker (“Mr. Bojangles”), The Amazing Rhythm Aces (“Third Rate Romance,” “The End Is Not In Sight”), Phineas Newborn, Jackie DeShannon, Jim Post, Alex Chilton, Panther Burns and more.

Knox Phillips co-produced John Prine’s 1979 Memphis LP Pink Cadillac as well as many recordings by Jerry Lee Lewis. The latter were released in 2014 as Jerry Lee Lewis: The Knox Phillips Sessions.

He always worked to enhance his father’s legacy and reputation, providing invaluable assistance to author Peter Guralnick’s biography Sam Phillips: The Man Who Invented Rock ‘n’ Roll (2014). Knox also helped organize the Country Music Hall of Fame’s exhibit “Flying Saucers Rock & Roll: The Cosmic Genius of Sam Phillips” (2015-16).

Knox Phillips is survived by his wife Diane Duncan Phillips, brother Jerry Phillips and nieces Hailey Phillips and Roxanne Phillips Tays. Funeral arrangements have not been disclosed.

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Robert K. Oermann is a longtime contributor to MusicRow. He is a respected music critic, author and historian.

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