October 13th 2022
October 13th sees the 50th anniversary of Phil Seamen's passing. If you are interested in attending a Memorial gig in London, featuring top jazz players, please email to register your interest,
Memories of Phil Seamen
This webpage started really as a home for the personal recollections of people who knew Phil Seamen and sent them in after seeing the page on Jack Peach who was a friend colleague and flatmate of the legendary man.
Jack shared a flat with legendary drummer Phil Seaman and in the sixties the two mixed socially with the successful Rock drummers Mitch Mitchell and Ginger Baker. HERE is a link to an interesting article on Ginger Baker and Phil Seaman's influence on his playing.
This is an excerpt from The Phil Seaman Story, taken from a rare old vinyl record. It features Phil Seaman talking about the beginning of his career and then playing a drum solo. His great musicality is evident in the phrases he plays.
Phil Seaman Drum Solo
Photographer taken at The Marquee Club in London by Terry Cryer with thanks for permission
We have had some recent contributions regarding Phil Seaman, so, we reproduce them here with permission. Thanks ! As Phil became more of a 'household name' the spelling of his name was changed slightly to avoid embarrassment, so you will often see his surname spelt in a variety of ways.
Arthur Roe was given a pair of drum sticks by Phil Seaman when Arthur was aged just five. He sent in the picture of Phil and said,
"Many thanks for replying to my email, well my Dad died when I was seven so I did not get any info about Phil from him. But my brother was the manager of the Memphis Five here in Burton upon Trent and he new most thing about Phil I will have to have a chat with him.
You see when I had My band in Birmingham in the early sixties I came over to Burton to see Phil but when I got to the house His mom told me he was ill and still in bed and His Mom would not let me see him she told my Mom don't let Arthur get like Phil has got ( the Booze and so on, I was only 16 and impressionable) well that's how Mrs Seaman saw it, But he sent me the picture and he was my Idol, by the seventies I was married and stopped playing. When he died his Mom threw his Trixon drum kit away the dustcart took it before I could get my hands on it. I cried my eyes out when I found out he had died and what had happened to his drums. Can you imagine me actually being able to own and play Phil's Drum kit?"
Drummer, Steve Banning, was an Orchestral and Theatre drummer in London's West End during the sixties and told me this story concerning a drum extravaganza in the Talk Of The Town or somewhere similar circa 1971.
The unique event featured Buddy Rich, Louis Bellson and Kenny Clare, all with their individual drum kits set up. Louis Bellson's, of course, with the double bass drums. Buddy Rich walked out and sat down at Louis Bellson's double bass dum kit and started to play on the bass drums.... boom....boom....boom....boom and the tempo gradually sped up to double and double that again till the bass drums were playing a roll many of us would like to be able to play on a snare drum. When he finished there was a tremendous round of applause and Buddy Rich walked over and sat at his own kit where he repeated the exercise, reaching the same crescendo of notes with one bass drum - .the roof lifted.
At the climax of the session the spotlight was put on a figure in the seated crowd, the MC asked for order and announced that the gathering especially had a great respect for Phil Seamen who was in the audience. The gathering acknowledged this with a huge ovation, bringing Phil to tears.
Update:- Christmas 2007 saw a contact from drummer John Scott Cree who wrote as follows,
visited your website with interest, particularly in the following:
"Drummer, Steve Banning, was an Orchestral and Theatre drummer in London's West End during the sixties and told me this story concerning a drum extravaganza in the Talk Of The Town or somewhere similar circa 1971." etc.....
The event was actually at Queen Elizabeth Hall on 5 December 1971 late on a Sunday afternoon. It was a benefit for drummer Frank King and I came up from Dover to go with my Dad, drummer Scott (Jock) Cree who was among loads of drummers there. The event was recorded and released on the Parlophone LP "Conversations: a drum spectacular" (PCS 7151) in 1972. Buddy also, generously, put the spotlight on Carl Palmer. I was talking to drummer Bobby Orr at the Coda Club recently about it and he reminisced about the double bass drum pedal episode. I also spoke to others on that gig - sax player Duncan Lamont and trumpeters Stan Reynolds and Ronnie Hughes who recalled, separately, that Buddy arrived late for rehearsal, having played at Ronnie's until the small hours. After 2 runs through to capture a particularly complicated Bobby Lamb composition, Buddy turned round and said "Hey, you guys ought to play in my band". A wag, who shall be nameless, responded "You couldn't ****ing afford us". A great event, for drummers as the recording testifies.
In 1968, when I was living in earls Court, I took Dad to see Phil Seamen, at the Bull's Head, Barnes with the Tony Lee Trio with Terry Smith guesting on guitar. Phil had the trade mark fag hanging from the corner of his mouth and sweated profusely. He towelled his face between and during numbers, keeping the rhythm going with his free hand. At one point I wondered how he would reconcile this activity with the burning cigarette in his mouth. When he removed the towel, the cigarette had disappeared. I was distracted for a while.
Thanks for that, John (PL)
Jazz Profeesional have a page dedicated to Phil Seaman at, http://www.jazzprofessional.com/profiles/Phil%20Seamen.htm
From a technical and musical point of view Phil Seaman is surely the greatest ever British drummer.
Phil Seamen was one of many professional drummers who were, to an extent, interchangeable. These included British drum luminaries like Jack Parnell, Don Lawson and my old teacher Jack Peach, who was a 'fixer', ie. somebody who booked the musicians for recording sessions.