Acclaimed Jamaican Bass Guitarist, Phil Chen Passes Away

Jamaican Bass Guitarist, Phil Chen
Phil Chen

by Howard Campbell

[CALIFORNIA] – Phil Chen, an acclaimed Jamaican bass guitarist who played on Jeff Beck’s Blow by Blow album and Rod Stewart’s hit song Do Ya Think I’m Sexy, died in California on December 14.

His family confirmed his death on Facebook, writing: “With heavy hearts we share the news that Phil Chen passed away on the morning of Dec. 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.”

Chen was born in Kingston and attended St. George’s College, a high school run by Jesuits. His schoolmates included Byron Lee, founder of the Dragonaires band.

He was guitarist for The Vagabonds, a ska band led by his cousin Colton Chen, that moved to the United Kingdom in 1964. When Colton returned to Jamaica after a year, Chen switched to bass and became a prolific session player for rock artists.

The highlight of his studio work in the UK was playing on Blow by Blow, one of the most influential albums in rock music.

That opened doors for Chen to work with Stewart, Beck’s good friend. He toured with the singer for several years and played on hits like Do ya Think I’m Sexy, Hot Legs and Passion.

In recent years, Chen toured with guitarist Robbie Krieger’s version of The Doors.

For his contribution to music, the Jamaican government awarded Phil Chen the Order of Distinction, its sixth-highest honor, in 2014.


South Florida Caribbean News

The SFLCN.com Team provides news and information for the Caribbean-American community in South Florida and beyond.

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