Percy Phillips spent 30 years charging and supplying batteries to the local population from his ‘Phillips Battery Charging Depot’ in his family home at 38 Kensington Liverpool.
But as Liverpool modernised after the 2nd World War and batteries were replaced by mains electricity, Percy transformed his shop and began selling radios, records and record players. From the early 1950s, Phillips’ record shop was the place to go in Liverpool to buy American imports of Country, Blues and R&B recordings.
But in 1955, at the age of 60, Percy Phillips had a brainwave which would have a massive and lasting impact on Liverpool’s musical heritage. He opened the City’s first recording and disc cutting studio in a small room behind the record shop room on the ground floor of his home.
At first the studio was used by local people to record family messages to loved ones emigrating abroad; by seamen going on long voyages, recording messages of love for their sweethearts. People would also record their children or pets, often accompanied by Percy’s wife Hilda playing accordion or piano. Or they would record a radio programme at home and bring it to the studio for Percy to cut onto a disc. Percy would also cut compilation discs from radio shows, which would be played at parties or at the local ‘Silver Blades’ ice rink. He would also be employed to take the studio tape recorder to weddings and concerts and then cut the recordings to discs as souvenirs of the occasion.
Phillips Sound Recording Service also became the place where Liverpool’s budding musicians went to record demo discs in the hope of getting a recording or touring contract with an impresario such as Larry Parnes or Wally Hill.
Throughout the 1950s and 60s, hundreds of Merseyside singers and groups visited the studio and made recordings, including Billy Fury; Ken Dodd; The Quarrymen; The Swinging Blue Jeans; Johnny Guitar and Pete Goodall. And many of Liverpool’s other famous sons such as Alan Williams, Bob Wooler and Brian Epstein would visit the studio too. In particular, Brian Epstein, who also had a record shop in Liverpool, would ask Percy to record radio appearances by his new group, ‘The Beatles’ and transfer them to disc for him to listen to later in his office or at home.
Little did he know it at the time but Percy Phillips was recording the development of Liverpool’s incredible musical legacy to the World.
Percy Phillips left an archive of recordings from his studio in the form of 70 discs that he cut between 1955 and 1969. These fragile acetate discs have been kept in excellent condition by Percy’s family and the recordings on them sound as fresh and clear now as they did all those years ago.
This year, to mark 60 years since the Quarrymen made their first disc at the studio and to recognise the legacy of Percy Phillips’ studio, the unheard Phillips archive, along with several other discs made at the studio, are being released for the first time together on a special 2 CD set and a commemorative vinyl edition- ‘The Percy Phillips Studio Collection’.
To be exhibited at the 2018 Beatles Convention in Liverpool.