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Grant Lee Phillips
Known for his versatile voice, intense lyrical narratives and dexterity on the acoustic twelve-string guitar, Grant-Lee Phillips, a singer/songwriter and multi-instrumentalist was born on September 1, 1963 in Stockton, California, Phillips began playing the guitar in his early teens. Grant-Lee Phillips is of Native American descent and a registered member of the Creek Nations.
At age 19 he moved to Los Angeles where he worked tarring roofs to fund evening classes at UCLA and the possibility of forming a band at weekends. He eventually dropped out of college and linked up with an old friend from Stockton named Jeffery Clark. Together they formed Shiva Burlesque and released two lauded LPs Shiva Burlesque and Mercury Blues which due to a failure did not make any commercial impact. Phillips and Clark disbanded shortly afterwards which duly meant the end of the band.
Phillips was now writing lyrics as well as music and the trio quickly built up a local following, selling out clubs on the strength of Phillips's intense performance. Following a handful of solo shows at clubs around Hollywood, Phillips recruited ex-Shiva members Joey Peters (drums) and Paul Kimble (bass) for rehearsals as Grant Lee Buffalo in mid-1991. His political storytelling was delivered in a recently discovered voice: both a soaring falsetto and a nourishing drawl that matched his aggressive acoustic guitar stomp and pouting physicality. One song, Fuzzy, was released on Bob Mould's Singles Only Label in 1992 to huge critical acclaim and lead to Grant Lee Buffalo being signed to Slash Records. The debut LP, also called Fuzzy, was released a year later, upon which Michael Stipe of R.E.M. declared it the best album of the year hands down.
A further three Grant Lee Buffalo albums followed. Mighty Joe Moon (1994), Copperopolis (1996), and Jubilee (1998) were all quite different and highly accomplished.
Phillips immediately signed to the Boston-based indie label Rounder Records and launched a solo career, issuing the intimate Ladies Love Oracle over the Internet in 2000. The recording was later more widely released. His first full-length LP, Mobilize, was released to enormous critical acclaim in 2001. Being praised as much for its gentleness as much as Buffalo were for their rock, it featured Phillips's talents on many instruments, including both dreamy pop and dark but comforting ballads. Touring followed with sets containing solo and Buffalo material in equal measure.
In 1995 he was voted best male vocalist by Rolling Stone magazine. Grant often collaborates with producer/musician Jon Brion as well as Rickie Lee Jones.
In 2006 Phillips released another acoustic album, Nineteen eighties. An ambitious set of cover versions, it featured songs from the Pixies, New Order, Robyn Hitchcock, R.E.M., The Church, and Echo & the Bunnymen. A new record of his own material, Strangelet, was released on March 27, 2007.He is currently writing with former Jayhawks frontman Gary Louris.
He can be found at the LA club Largo performing sporadically throughout the year. He plays a recurring minor character as the town troubadour on the television series Gilmore Girls.