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If you have any connection to the San Francisco Bay Area music scene, Beserkley Records, Rather Ripped Records, KSAN, etc. during the 60s, 70s and 80s, you've probably heard of or met Gary Phillips, a.k.a. Gary Philippet.

Or you may have known Gary from Spokane or
Penrith Farms in Newport, Washington.

Your thoughts, memories, etc. are very welcome on this blog!

Please feel free to email your posts and any photos or audio clips to


Your requests or suggestions for improvement are
gratefully accepted as well.
- Thanks!

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Chuck Prophet

I'm still numb. Still haven't been able to get
my head around it. Gary's gone.
Just like that. It wasn't "just like that" but it
sure seems like it this morning.

Gary didn't want me to know he was sick. I wish I
would have pressed him harder, maybe then I would
have had the chance to say goodbye. But he didn't
want to get into the details. I suspect it had
something to do with him not wanting to be
anything less than a good hang.

Above all, Gary was always a good hang. That's
the way I always remember Gary. As a great hang.
Never one to put anyone out.

Living the good life up there outside Newport Wa.
Working the land. Away from the glitz. His second
act was all service. He took care of people. He
grew vegetables. Helped people back into society
by showing how to bale hay. Until he got so sick
that he couldn't climb up on that tractor.

All he wanted to do was get well enough to feed
those animals. He'd say, "man there's a certain
feeling you get down in the stalls at 5 AM. The
animals need me. Those Lama's are happy to see
me. I just want to be of service. If I could
just get that well again!"

One of the first times we reconnected after so
many years, Gary drove four hours up to a gig I
was playing in Seattle. 3 Am and we're loading an
SVT amp head into the van off the loading dock.
And somehow I'm having more fun than I had the
whole tour! That's what I mean by a good hang.
We're hanging out for ten minutes and I feel like
I've known him my whole life. Which makes more
than a little sense.

We would send each other Mix CD's. We took it
very seriously. Gary would tap into a vein and
surprise me. My favorites were the 7 inch singles
that he'd gathered from his days working the
counter at Rather Ripped. Often times' the store
couldn't make the payroll each week, so the owner
would say, "just grab as many singles as you

Probably suited Gary just fine. He was never that materialistic.

All he wanted to do was get well enough to feed those animals.

I remember last year I had loaned a book to
Jonathan Richman who happens to be my neighbor
and was Gary's one time room-mate. We stood on
the porch shuffling our feet, talking about Gary
being sick. Jonathan raised his head opened his
eyes wide and said, "He might make it." And
somehow at that moment I believed he would make
it. Later when I told Jonathan that Gary was
slipping fast, I reminded him what he'd told me
and how I believed him.

Jonathan said, "I believed me too."

I have so many great memories of Gary.

Gary and I had electricity. Just two people when
we would start to talk it would flow. You touch
those two wires together and it sparks.

All those years ago, at the Keystone in Berkeley.
Playing pinball. I remember Gary showing me a
Yardbirds lick. One of the three licks that I
know. I play it every day.

Funnier than two motherfuckers he was. After the
surgery where they cut that massive tumor out of
him, he referred to it as "the baby".

Sure do miss the dude.

chuck prophet

(((belle sound))) 61 noe St sf, ca 94114

management: dan kennedy mummyheadMusic@gmail.com
mummyhead music: (520) 982-4650


Tuesday, February 13, 2007

note from richi ray harris


I can't believe I'm here and Gary's not.

Richi Ray Harris from Freedom Highway

Sunday, February 11, 2007

miss you

Gary Phillips: -good friend I will miss. Patti Smith sometimes called him her little tin soldier, no doubt in reference to his absolultely hot rockin' song but more perhaps alluding to his innate boyish premise and tough (as tin) personae. tin in fact is quite a rare element and Gary was quite a rare kind of person. i liked him, i loved him and am a better person in every way for having known him. he once laughed when i suggested that GKB should open for the stones. i somehow knew it would soon happen and sure enough not a year later we shared one of Jagger's marlboros (which Gary had politely pilfered from their common backstage) secretly in his magical montclair lair long since burned.
the last thing he said to me face to face before goodbye: "all there is is forgiveness."

i foresee your smile, Gary.

ron b. libby

Friday, February 9, 2007

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Bassist from "Freedom Highway" remembers

My name is Scott Inglis.I was fortunate to play bass with the band ''Freedom Highway'' for most of the band's existence and more fortunate to play along side Gary for about a year. If you look at the CD ''Made in '68'' I'm the big guy in back with the squinty eyes.

My Gary story; we had just finished a gig in Eureka,Ca. and sitting in the back of Bruce Brymer's (drums) van and it was pouring rain and crawling with police. I said something like ''I'd hate to be busted on a night like this''.

He replied something like : '' I'd get popped if it was for the band'' I just sat there and thought to my self ''what b---'s'' and didn't say a word. That was Gary.

I only have two regrets with Gary Philippet (that's how I knew him).
One; I never got to record with him and two; I never saw him again except the times I saw him on MTV. I'll leave you and Gary in peace. Ill miss him.
Scott Inglis.

Praise from Tom S.


I only just now, as I type this, about Gary. While I never met the man personally, I have heard several great things about him. As I know a lot of people who did and/or were connected to them. It's too bad I never met the cat, as I heard he lived not too far from me at all.

As an unoffical collector of of all things Cipollina, I was deeply touch by the sheer raw talent of Gary. He seemed to appear to be the man who had been born with rock and roll in his blood, yet had a carefree way. His vocals were a marvel, all gritty mean and sweet and heartfelt at the same time. Along with a very sly sense of humor. All in all, Gary was very much something quite rare indeed!

I have uploaded some Copperhead recordings (legally) on the Live Music Archive found at http://www.archive.org/details/JohnCipollina) and will continue to upload some more soon. I know it's not much by them so far, but it will keep the spirit of this great musician alive! We shall not forget Gary!

While I am sad on this current, I would still like to give a big thanks for wonderful webpage available!

All the best,
-Tom S.

February 5, 2007 4:54 PM

Monday, February 5, 2007

Celebrate Life


Saturday, February 3, 2007

Great memories from Joanne Blake


My name is Joanne Blake. My husband Reb and I have known and loved Gary for over 40 years.

I first met him I believe, in 1966. He was in the band The Front Line. They had just toured with Sonny and Cher. The band moved into the house next door to my parents house on Blossom Court in San Rafael.

Being 14 at the time, you can imagine how exciting it was to have a "famous" rock band move into the house next door. After a few months of living it up and spending all the money they made on tour, they had the electricity and water shut off for non-payment. My parents had fallen in love with Gary and Dennis Lanigan and allowed them to run an extension cord to our house to power the amps and a few lights in the house. Also allowed them to shower at our house... and I think they even had a hose running from our backyard into their house to flush the toilet. In exchange, Gary cooked wonderful meals for us, and Dennis and Gary both gave my younger brother guitar lessons.

From day one I loved Gary. He was the big brother I never had, my best friend, and my savior when my 12 year old brother died very suddenly from a cerebral hemorrhage when I was 15. I am not sure I would have survived that experience, except for that fact that Gary was at my side day and night for a week or more.

Over the years we were in and out of touch but I always talked to him around his birthday (Reb's birthday is the day before Gary's, same age).

About 2 years ago he came to the Bay Area to do some production work, and stayed with us in Mill Valley 2 times. We got to renew our long time friendships over those 2 weekends and I will always treasure those times. After that we talked or emailed at least once a week.

I received a belated Christmas card from him a couple of weeks after Christmas, and after that he did not return emails or phone calls and I knew he was gone. We just found out from Mike Somavilla a couple of nights ago and we are so sad. I know Gary would want us to be happy that his suffering is over. Every time we talked, during his illness, he would tell me not to cry for him, but it was hard not to then, and hard not to now.

Thank you for putting together the wonderful tribute to Gary.

And as you said...many of us think of him as our BEST friend!

Thank you

Joanne (Harris) Blake

Thursday, February 1, 2007

The original Copperhead (incl. Mark Unobski)

A note from Pete Sears

I was very sad to hear that my old band-mate and compadre, Gary Philippet recently passed away.
I spent many happy and crazy months hanging out, playing music and recording with Gary, John Cipollina, Jim McPherson and David Weber at the old Quicksilver rehearsal house up on the hill in Corte Madera. We would occasionaly venture out and play a show here and there, like a live KSAN broadcast, or Bermuda Palms in San Rafael. Along with John, Gary was always a strong driving force behind the band. Gary and John's style of guitar playing and personalities always complemented each other well, as did Gary and Jim on vocals. We rehearsed for many months before we managed to come up with a name for the band, "Copperhead" (John's idea). I remember Gary as a generous and kind man, who lit up on stage (literally) and put all his energy into giving the audience the best possible performance he could.

Man, we had some good times. I haven't seen or spoken with Gary since I left Copperhead in 1972 just before they recorded their first album. I had to go back to England to record my third Rod Stewart album, and join a band Nicky Hopkins was starting up. As with other old friends who have moved on from this earthly plane (including Nicky), my biggest regret is not having reconnected with them again in later years - it's something that is always in the back of your mind. Then it is too late.

Gary will be remembered and missed by all those who loved him and his music.
My deepest sympathy goes out to his family and close friends.
See you down the line my old friend…and say hi to John, Jim and big Mark for me.
Your old mate,

Click to enlarge

Photo courtesy Pete Sears