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“Steve Phillips is, without doubt, one of the greatest blues guitarists Europe has ever produced, and is currently one of the finest anywhere in the world. His involvement with MARK KNOPFLER (of Dire Straits) in the NOTTING HILLBILLIES briefly turned Phillips into a kind of rock star.”
WHEN performing with his band Rough Diamonds Steve Phillips proves his enduring status as one of the best British blues guitarists you are likely to hear.
During the 1968 'British Blues Boom' he met up with a young guitarist named Mark Knopfler. Mark was then working as a junior reporter on the Yorkshire Evening Post. Steve and Mark found that musically they had much in common and they went on to form a duo called The Duolian String Pickers. By day Mark continued working as a reporter and Steve took a job restoring paintings and furniture at Leeds City Art Gallery and Temple Newsam House. They played together off and on over the next five years during which time Steve introduced Mark to the majestic lead style of black blues guitarist Lonnie Johnson and the technical styles of country blues guitar playing, - which Mark eventually evolved into his own unique style of guitar picking.
In the mid-1980s interest in "roots" music revived and Mark turned up almost unexpectedly at 'The Grove' pub in Leeds in May 1986 and sat in with Steve and Brendan Croker for a blues session and talk of a reunion. Steve had released his wryly entitled debut album The Best of Steve Phillips, and Mark offered to produce his next album. It would also feature Brendon, and Guy Fletcher and from this evolved the collaboration known as the Notting Hillbillies. This was chronicled by an extensive tour and the release in 1990 of the multi-platinum selling album ‘Missing......Presumed having A Good Time.’
Since then there have been three further Notting Hillbillies tours, one in 1997, the Birmingham and London Ronnie Scott's residencies of 1998 and the July 1999 six night residency at Ronnie Scott's, London, and a number of charity performances, most recently in July 2002.
Since the success of the Notting Hillbillies, Steve has moved from Leeds to the Whitby area of North Yorkshire. He has released several highly acclaimed albums including ‘Steel-Rail Blues’, ‘Been A Long Time Gone’, ‘Just Pickin’ and Every One a Gem. His band Steve Phillips and the Rough Diamonds play regularly - this man is one of our true great musicians-and a gentleman to boot!