Simon Phillips was born on 6 February 1957 in London, England. He is an English drummer who plays rock, jazz, and fusion music in the US. Aside from being a drummer, he is also a passionate songwriter and record producer. Philips mainly worked with rock bands during the 70s and 80s and was the drummer for 22 years for the remarkable band Toto.

Phillips worked as a session drummer as well for many famous artists and bands, such as The Who,  Rutherford, Gary Moore, and Mike Oldfield, to name a few. Let’s see what marks Simon left in the drumming world, dive a bit into his private life, and cover those frequently asked questions about Simon!

The Simon Phillips Personal Info

Real NameSimon Phillips
Stage Name Phillips
Birth PlaceLondon, England, United Kingdom
Birth Date6 February 1957
Zodiac Sign Cancer
ParentsFather: Sid Phillips, Mother: N/A 
Social MediaInstagram, Twitter, Facebook
AwardsModern Drummer magazine Hall of Fame in 2003;
The winner of the Jazz Instrumental Album category for album Protocol II in 2015 in the 14th Annual Independent Music Awards;
Voted no. 1 in the Fusion category of the annual Modern Drummer Readers Poll in 2019;
Album Protocol 4 was nominated for a GRAMMY Award in the Contemporary Instrumental Album category in 2019.

Simon Phillips Early Life and Family

Phillips was born in London on the 6th of February, 1957. His father was Sid Phillips, who served as an intelligence officer in the Royal Air Force during World War II. Sid was also a drummer, and after the war, he formed a band named Dixieland. That was when Simon took drumsticks at the age of 12 and started playing and recording drums on a more professional level.

As for Simons’ mother, on the other hand, we only have a little information about her. In one interview, Simon mentioned that his mother was also very musical but wasn’t a professional musician. She played piano and a bit of drum during the war. She was very passionate about jazz music, so she collected it and invested it in revokes g36. From this, we can conclude that little Simon grew up in a family passionate about music.

That’s why Phillips showed love for the drums so early. Simon got his first drum set as a toy kit at age four, followed by a snare and cymbal set at age six. Simon was always passionate when playing drums and showed great potential as a drummer. He only got one teacher, a very famous London teacher called Max Abrams. His first real drumming sounds were created when Phillips was 12; he performed and recorded with his father’s Dixieland jazz band. 

Unfortunately, Sid died when Simon was only 16, and after his father’s death, he left the band. At that point, Phillips began experimenting with other musical styles, including rock and musicals. Drumming on the demos of various cast members led to session work for a production of Jesus Christ Superstar. 

Aside from that, in the mid-70s, Simon did a lot of disco sessions while using hi-hats a lot. Unfortunately for young Phillips, the working condition was not excellent. He would practice on his arm sofa in his small apartment in London Kensington. At this point, Simon discovered that he could play equally with both hands!

Career Path and Drumming Experience 

After playing in the Dixieland band for four years after his father’s death, he started experimenting with sound. He played more pop and rock music in a production of the musical Jesus Christ Superstar. In addition to serving as a session musician to cast members, he also worked as a session drummer for others. At the beginning of the 70s, he worked with Peter Gabriel, Gil Evans, Jeff Beck, Stanley Clarke, Pete Townshend, and the incredible Frank Zappa.

Simon drummed for the band 801, with Phil Manzanera and Brian Eno for their album 801 Live in 1976. A year later, he replaced Alan Moore in the band Judas Priest, for the album Sin After. On that album, Phillips popularized the double bass drumming style that would later characterize heavy metal, especially the 1980s-emerging thrash metal subgenre.

A few years later, Simon drummed:

  • With Gary Boyle on his album called “The Dancer.”
  • With Michael Schenker on his debut album, “The Michael Schenker Group.”
  • With Mike Rutherford’s song “Smallcreep’s Day.”

In the early 1980s, Simon formed part of RMS -Ray Russell, Mo Foster, and Simon Phillips. In the same year, he also drummed and co-wrote songs on the album There & Back by Jeff Beck. A few years later, Phillips co-wrote another song for the soundtrack, “The Pump,” to the 1983 film Risky Business.

Another great opportunity came in 1989. He appeared with “The Who” on their 1989 American reunion tour and, in the same year, recorded his debut album with the band Protocol in 1989 as well. However, Phillips wanted more, so he moved to Los Angeles in the 1990s in order to make more significant adjustments to his music career.

Moving to LA and Joining Toto

Not long after he moved to LA, Jeff Porcaro from Toto passed away. Just after he finished filming Kingdom of Desire, Jeff died, according to some speculation, a drug abuse/heart attack, so Toto invited Simon to step in for him.

Phillips was the only candidate for the position for one huge reason. Phillips was one of the top three drummers ever to Jeff, alongside Gregg Bissonnette and Vinnie Colaiuta. He admires him so much, and if somebody should replace him, it should be Simon.

After deciding to move permanently to Los Angeles, Phillips started band practice. After their first tour together, Kingdom of Desire, Phillips officially joined Toto.

The band had successful tours, gigs, and plays, but in 1995 Simon suffered back problems and could not play on the first leg of the Tambu tour. He had a few replacements when he couldn’t play, but he officially left the band in 2014. His last show with the band was the year before, and he left the band because he wanted to focus more on his solo career. 

Even though Simon has incredible skills and teaching abilities, he does not think he could be a teacher. As he says, there are players, and there are teachers. Teachers know how to transfer knowledge, and he feels like he is more of a guy who “I hear it, let’s do it.” Nevertheless, even though he is not officially the drum teacher, he taught and hopefully continues to inspire many young drummers in the future!

Frequently Asked Questions

Who does Simon Phillips play drums for?

Simon worked as a drummer for many artists and bands, including

  • Frank Zappa
  • Judas Priest
  • The Who
  • Michael Schenker
  • Nik Kershaw
  • Mike Oldfield
  • Bernie Marsden
  • Jeff Beck 
  • Gary Moore
  • Jon Lord
  • Mike Rutherford
  • Judas Priest
  • Tears for Fears
  • 10cc 

How old is drummer Simon Phillips?

Right of this moment, Simon Philips is 65 years old. He was born on February 6th, 1957, so the following year, he will be 66. 

Is Simon Phillips left-handed?

Simon Phillips can play with both of his hands, the left and right hand. His playing has opened up many more musical possibilities; as he said, by leading with the left hand, he could approach things differently.

What kind of drum heads does Simon Phillips use?

Phillips currently uses Tama Starclassic drums and Zildjian cymbals with Pro-Mark sticks. As for the drumheads, he uses Remo, and for the microphone, Shure and Meyer Monitors.