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Phil Lee

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  • Born: Durham, NC
  • Years Active: 1970s, 1980s, 1990s, 2000s


Biography All Music Guide

All Music Guide:

Phil Lee grew up in Durham, North Carolina, in the shadow of tobacco warehouses and Duke University. A musician and songwriter from his teens, Lee's first professional gig came in the 1960s, playing drums for Homer Briarhopper and the Daybreak Gang on a morning television show in Raleigh, N.C. (right before the Farm News). Lee wandered off to New York City in 1971, where he eventually found work behind the drums for the band Amazing Grace, an outfit that included Beverly D'Angelo, Rob Stoner and Hank DeVito. Lee moved to Los Angeles around 1974, where he did some movie soundtrack work with Jack Nitzsche and did some truck driving for Neil Young. He was back in North Carolina in the mid-'80s, writing songs and pushing an 18-wheeler here and there to make ends meet. After a brief stint with The Flying Burrito Brothers in 1993, Lee moved to Nashville and landed a publishing deal, which didn't last long. Truck driving jobs were easy to find in Nashville, however, and Lee was also beginning to work with producer Richard Bennett on the honky tonk country music project that would eventually become his first solo album, The Mighty King of Love, released by Shanachie Records in January, 2000. Lee's music is the distillation of about 30 years' worth of playing in juke joints and bars from one end of the country to the other. His songwriting is uncommonly witty and as direct as a kick in the butt. The years he has spent sitting at the back of the bandstand, behind the drums, have given him plenty of time to think about what he'd do if he ever got to the front of the stage. Now that he's there, he's not wasting anyone's time with lame material.