Wednesday, 8 October 2014

Sad News for British Bluegrass

The great British banjo player Phill Morley passed away in hospital on last August 27th, 2014 in Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford, Essex.

Born on March 13, 1952, his passion for the banjo began at the age of 16, and in the mid-1970s he started busking in his hometown of Romford. Even if he was still learning to play his instrument, these public displays led to teaching assignments. In fact, Phill was also a teacher, and it was his teaching to over a 100 people that sustained him for the past 20 years. He featured in bluegrass bands but also played country music, swing, country rock, folk music and jazz, the latter mostly to help with his teaching.

Phill was a cornerstone of the British bluegrass and old-time music scene during the last 40 years, having set up the first magazine, British Bluegrass & Old Time Music Newsletter, first published in the 1970s, that turned later into British Bluegrass News. He seemed to have a constant yearning to publish; only ill health caused him to leave a little quarterly journal, The Banjo Gazette, which he started not long after the publication of British Bluegrass News was taken over by the British Bluegrass Music Association in November 1990.

Phill's many contributions to the British bluegrass scene show him as a tireless promoter of bluegrass, and a  friend to so many. He will be missed by the whole bluegrass community.