Born in July 1955 Phil Jones spent his earliest years in Everton, a suburb still severely scarred from the Blitz fifteen years earlier. Growing up in a cramped two up-two down Victorian terrace, Phil discovered music at an early age through the radio and his Aunt’s record collection.
Making his first ever onstage performance aged eleven singing Jim Reeves’ hit Distant Drums acapella at a social club Christmas party, the nascent musician discovered he had a natural aptitude.
As the streets around Everton fell into even greater disrepair as the Sixties progressed, the suburb was earmarked for demolition in a massive slum clearance programme.
The Jones’s moved to Cantril Farm, a vast new housing estate on the edge of the city built specifically to rehome families from the clearances. Among the first settlers on the estate, streets still under construction as the new residents arrived.
Already able to play any song by ear on harmonica, Phil began to expand his musical vocabulary as a pupil at Yew Tree Comprehensive. Picking up guitar and piano and mastering the recorder in music lessons, Phil was able to transfer what he had learnt on to the flute, the instrument he is most readily associated with.
The teenager’s imagination was also fired by a school art teacher who allowed him to use his classroom and the materials during lunchtimes, leading to a lifelong parallel interest in painting.
Moving from the pop playlists of radio to the burgeoning underground rock scene of the early 1970s, Phil became a fan of luminaries including King Crimson, Jethro Tull, Mott the Hoople and especially David Bowie and Peter Gabriel-era Genesis, seeing scores of artists play live at the legendary Liverpool Boxing Stadium.
Phil’s first band, the memorably monikered WC Wardrobe’s Swinging Clit, made their live debut at a Sixth Form parents evening under the slightly less controversial name of Wind Circus. The show proved to be a fulcrum moment as a reporter from BBC Radio Merseyside was present and recorded the group’s set. Broadcast on the radio the following lunchtime, the entire school canteen tuned in. Understandably elated things were developing quickly for Phil, “My first ever gig and I was on the radio, I’d made it!” he later recalled.