Honour for a Vagabond
Phil Chen (left) and RobbyKrieger of The Doors

IT is hard to find a major pop act bass player Phil Chen did not play with in the '70s and '80s.

Chen, now is his late 60s, will receive the Order of Distinction on October 20 during the National Honours and Awards at King's House.

In July, he was in Jamaica to accept an award for his contribution to Jamaican music, from organisers of the annual Tribute to The Greats show.

A national award, he told the Sunday Observer, is icing on the cake.

“To get a national award from the government of Jamaica is a dream come true, as it puts me in the bracket of Miss Lou (Louise Bennett Coverley), Bob Marley, master Ernie Ranglin and many of my fellow jamaicans who have inspired me,” Chen said.

Chen joined the Vagabonds band as a guitarist in 1963, shortly after leaving St George's College. He switched to bass when the bandleader, his cousin Colston Chen, returned to Jamaica from the United Kingdom where the Vagabonds moved to in 1964.

Chen became an in-demand session player in London, rubbing shoulders with musicians including Pete Townsend (guitarist of The Who), Jimi Hendrix, the Animals and Jeff Beck.

It was playing on Beck's groundbreaking 1975 album, Blow by Blow, that paved the way for Chen to record and tour with Rod Stewart, The Doors, Paul McCartney, The Eurhythmics, Eddie Van Halen and the Bee Gees.

One of his signature bass lines is on Stewart's massive 1978 dance hit, Do Ya Think I'm Sexy.

“All this started with a home-made guitar, listening to (saxophonist) Sugar Belly next door at the Rainbow (Kingston club). I am truly blessed,” said Chen.

 — Howard Campbell

Now you can read the Jamaica Observer ePaper anytime, anywhere. The Jamaica Observer ePaper is available to you at home or at work, and is the same edition as the printed copy available at https://bit.ly/epaper-login

HOUSE RULES

  1. We welcome reader comments on the top stories of the day. Some comments may be republished on the website or in the newspaper; email addresses will not be published.
  2. Please understand that comments are moderated and it is not always possible to publish all that have been submitted. We will, however, try to publish comments that are representative of all received.
  3. We ask that comments are civil and free of libellous or hateful material. Also please stick to the topic under discussion.
  4. Please do not write in block capitals since this makes your comment hard to read.
  5. Please don't use the comments to advertise. However, our advertising department can be more than accommodating if emailed: advertising@jamaicaobserver.com.
  6. If readers wish to report offensive comments, suggest a correction or share a story then please email: community@jamaicaobserver.com.
  7. Lastly, read our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy