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Phil Chen, bassist and session pro with the likes of Jeff Beck, Rod Stewart and Brian May, dies aged 75

Phil Chen and Rod Stewart
(Image credit: Dick Barnatt / Getty)

Bass player and session musician Phil Chen died at home yesterday (December 14, 2021), according to a statement posted to his official Facebook page.

The statement reads: “With heavy hearts we share the news that Phil Chen passed away on the morning of December 14, 2021 after a long battle with cancer. 

“He spent his final days surrounded by family and close friends and cherished time with his grandchildren who always brightened his day. He will be missed greatly and his contagious passion for music and positive energy on and off the stage will be remembered always.”

Posted by PhilChenBass on 

The bassist was born and raised in Kingston, Jamaica in 1940. He relocated to the UK in the '60s and found success as a session musician for the likes of Jeff Beck, Donovan, Pete Townshend and Rod Stewart. Chen played on a string of hit records from the '70s onwards, including Stewart’s Da Ya Think I’m Sexy and Young Turks.

Phil Chen

(Image credit: Scott Dudelson / Getty)

Later, he was recruited by Brian May for the guitarist’s 1983 Star Fleet Project EP, where he played alongside the Queen man and Eddie Van Halen. As the '80s and '90s passed, Chen continued to work with Beck, alongside Jackson Browne, The Eurythmics, John Fogerty, Bo Diddley and many more iconic names. 

From the early '00s, he regularly worked with former Doors members Ray Manzarek and Robby Krieger, the latter of whom he had played with in the Butts Band.

Drummer Carmine Appice said of Chen, “Very sad to find out my old friend and rhythm section partner in the Rod Stewart Group Phil Chen lost his battle with Cancer today. I loved Phil as a person and a great bass player. He will be missed.”

Posted by CarmineAppiceOfficial on 

Fans and friends have been sharing tales and memories of Chen’s generosity and inspiring career over on his Facebook page.

This article was updated December 16 to reflect the fact that Chen was 75 at the time of his death, not 80 as the piece initially stated.

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Matt is a freelance journalist who has spent the last decade interviewing musicians for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk, which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.