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Gregory Arthur Phillinganes (born May 12, 1956) is an American keyboardist, singer-songwriter, and musical director based in Los Angeles, California. A prolific
session musician Session musicians, studio musicians, or backing musicians are musicians hired to perform in recording sessions or live performances. The term sideman is also used in the case of live performances. Session musicians are usually not permanent mem ...
, Phillinganes has contributed the role of keyboards to numerous albums representing a broad array of artists and genres. He has toured with notable artists, such as
Stevie Wonder Stevland Hardaway Morris (born Judkins; born May 13, 1950), known professionally as Stevie Wonder, is an American singer, songwriter, musician and record producer. A prominent figure in popular music during the second half of the 20th century, ...

Stevie Wonder
,
Eric Clapton Eric Patrick Clapton, (born 1945) is an English Rock music, rock and blues guitarist, singer, and songwriter. He is the only List of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees#Multiple inductees, three-time inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fam ...
, David Gilmour and Toto, served as musical director for
Michael Jackson Michael Joseph Jackson (August 29, 1958June 25, 2009) was an American singer, songwriter, and dancer. Dubbed the "Honorific nicknames in popular music, King of Pop", he is regarded as one of the Cultural impact of Michael Jackson, most sign ...

Michael Jackson
, and has released two solo studio albums.


Biography

Gregory Arthur Phillinganes was born on May 12, 1956, in Detroit, Michigan. He began playing a neighbor's piano by ear at the age of two, beginning lessons a few years later after his mother purchased a piano for him. He took lessons from two different instructors before his mother brought him to Misha Kotler, a Detroit Symphony Orchestra pianist who introduced the discipline and technique Phillinganes required to excel. Phillinganes credits Kotler with showing him proper hand posture and for influencing him to play with "a sense of dexterity and definition". Phillinganes was discovered by
Stevie Wonder Stevland Hardaway Morris (born Judkins; born May 13, 1950), known professionally as Stevie Wonder, is an American singer, songwriter, musician and record producer. A prominent figure in popular music during the second half of the 20th century, ...

Stevie Wonder
after drummer Ricky Lawson gave him a cassette of instrumental renditions of his own songs done by Phillinganes. Phillinganes auditioned for Wonder's band, Wonderlove, and subsequently played with them from 1976 to 1981. The year 1978 began a three-decade-long involvement with
Michael Jackson Michael Joseph Jackson (August 29, 1958June 25, 2009) was an American singer, songwriter, and dancer. Dubbed the "Honorific nicknames in popular music, King of Pop", he is regarded as one of the Cultural impact of Michael Jackson, most sign ...

Michael Jackson
and The Jacksons for Phillinganes. He arranged The Jacksons' 1978 album '' Destiny'' and played keyboard on the 1980s '' Triumph'' album. In the process, he became close with the Jackson family, accompanying them to Walt Disney World and referring to Katherine Jackson as "mom". He contributed to every one of Michael Jackson's solo albums, and cites the title track from 1982's '' Thriller'' as a classic example of his work. In an interview with ''
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'', Phillinganes recalled, "I did the synth bass part, those high-pitched synth parts, I did the
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eyboardpart and even did the pipe organ that Vincent Price does his rap over. It was crazy! When I listen to it now, I just think about all the fun we had creating all those layers in the studio." Although paid as a session musician for his contributions to ''Thriller'', the best-selling album of all time, Phillinganes noted that he and the other participating musicians do not receive royalties. He was the musical director for Michael Jackson's ''Bad (tour), Bad'' and ''Dangerous World Tour, Dangerous'' concert tours, as well as the Michael Jackson: 30th Anniversary Special. He describes his involvement with the 30th Anniversary Special as particularly emotional considering his long history with the family. Phillinganes has spoken at length about how much of his life he had spent with the Jacksons, and Michael in particular. In 1981, Phillinganes released his first solo album, ''Significant Gains''. ''The Boston Globe'' reviewer Richard Cromonic noted that Stevie Wonder's influence on the album's sound is pronounced, and praised the creativity of the compositions. He criticized the lyrics as being less creative, and said that ''Significant Gains'' might be too close to Wonder's sound, calling it "blatant emulation". While the album itself was not very successful, the song "Baby, I Do Love You" was a minor R&B hit. Three years later, Phillinganes released his follow-up album ''Pulse (Greg Phillinganes album), Pulse'', which featured another minor hit (and perhaps his best-known solo hit), a cover of Yellow Magic Orchestra's song "Behind the Mask (Yellow Magic Orchestra song), Behind the Mask" (with additional lyrics written by Michael Jackson). This single was more successful on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play, dance music charts. When he later joined
Eric Clapton Eric Patrick Clapton, (born 1945) is an English Rock music, rock and blues guitarist, singer, and songwriter. He is the only List of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees#Multiple inductees, three-time inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fam ...
's backing band, Phillinganes introduced the tune to Clapton, who covered it on his 1986 ''August (Eric Clapton album), August'' album. Amidst his solo recordings and touring with Clapton throughout the 1980s and the early 1990s, he became well known as a prominent session musician for a multitude of different artists, performing on many hit albums of the time. His session work has continued into the present. In addition to Stevie Wonder, Greg Phillinganes has worked and toured with other musicians including George Harrison, the Bee Gees, Donna Summer, Anita Baker, George Benson, Karen Carpenter, Eric Clapton, Donald Fagen, Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle, Michael Jackson, Richard Marx, Paul McCartney, Al Jarreau, Quincy Jones, and Stevie Nicks among others. In 1995 he played on the Joan Armatrading album ''What's Inside''. Starting in 2005, Phillinganes filled in for the semi-retired David Paich on tour with the band Toto. He subsequently became a full-time member of the band and contributed to their album ''Falling in Between''. He continued to tour as a member of Toto until the band became inactive in 2008. When Toto reformed in 2010 to resume touring and working on new material, Phillinganes had been replaced in the lineup by original keyboardist Steve Porcaro. Phillinganes served as the musical director for Cirque du Soleil's ''Michael Jackson: The Immortal World Tour'' for its entire run from 2011 to 2014. Phillinganes was Musical Director for the 2014 Women of Soul performance at The Whitehouse featuring, amongst others Aretha Franklin, Patti LaBelle, Ariana Grande and Jill Scott. In 2014 and 2015 he performed with Stevie Wonder again in the Songs in the Key of Life Tour, also serving "as the tour's Music Director." He toured with the European leg of David Gilmour's Rattle That Lock tour. Phillinganes won a 2015 Creative Arts Emmy Award for Outstanding Music Direction for his role as musical director for the television special "Stevie Wonder: Songs In The Key Of Life" and was music director for the 2016 Grammy Awards.


Selected Discography

Solo * ''Significant Gains (album), Significant Gains'' (1981) * ''Pulse (Greg Phillinganes album), Pulse'' (1984) With
Michael Jackson Michael Joseph Jackson (August 29, 1958June 25, 2009) was an American singer, songwriter, and dancer. Dubbed the "Honorific nicknames in popular music, King of Pop", he is regarded as one of the Cultural impact of Michael Jackson, most sign ...

Michael Jackson
* ''Off the Wall'' (1979) * '' Thriller'' (1982) * ''Bad (album), Bad'' (1987) * ''Dangerous (Michael Jackson album), Dangerous'' (1991) With David Gilmour * ''Live at Pompeii'' (2017) With Laura Branigan * ''Laura Branigan (album), Laura Branigan'' (1990) With Donna Summer * ''Donna Summer (album), Donna Summer'' (1982) With Sheryl Crow * ''Threads (Sheryl Crow album), Threads'' (2019) With Mick Jagger * ''Primitive Cool'' (1987) With Deniece Williams * ''When Love Comes Calling (Deniece Williams album), When Love Comes Calling'' (1978) * ''Special Love'' (1989) With Thelma Houston * ''Ready to Roll'' (1978) With Dionne Warwick * ''Finder of Lost Loves (album), Finder of Lost Loves'' (1985) * ''Reservations for Two'' (1987) With Richard Marx * ''Rush Street (album), Rush Street'' (1991) * ''Flesh and Bone (Richard Marx album), Flesh and Bone'' (1997) * ''Days in Avalon'' (2000) With Toni Braxton * ''Secrets (Toni Braxton album), Secrets'' (1996) * ''The Heat (Toni Braxton album), The Heat'' (2000) * ''Libra (Toni Braxton album), Libra'' (2005) With Stephen Bishop (singer), Stephen Bishop * ''Bish (album), Bish'' (1978) With Brenda Russell * ''Kiss Me with the Wind'' (1990) * ''Paris Rain'' (2000) With Paul Simon * ''Hearts and Bones'' (1983) * ''The Rhythm of the Saints'' (1990) With Michael Bublé * ''Call Me Irresponsible (album), Call Me Irresponsible'' (2007) With Bill Withers * ''Watching You Watching Me'' (1985) With Michael McDonald (musician), Michael McDonald * ''If That's What It Takes (album), If That's What It Takes'' (1982) * ''Blink of an Eye (Michael McDonald album), Blink of an Eye'' (1993) With Barbra Streisand * ''Back to Broadway'' (1993) * ''Higher Ground (Barbra Streisand album), Higher Ground'' (1997) With Rod Stewart * ''Soulbook'' (2009) With Leo Sayer * ''Leo Sayer (album), Leo Sayer'' (1978) With Elvis Costello * ''Painted From Memory'' (1998) With Stevie Nicks * ''Rock a Little'' (1985) With Willie Nelson * ''The Great Divide (Willie Nelson album), The Great Divide'' (2002) With Anita Baker * ''Rapture (Anita Baker album), Rapture'' (1986) * ''Compositions (album), Compositions'' (1990) * ''Rhythm of Love (Anita Baker album), Rhythm of Love'' (1994) With Ronan Keating * ''When Ronan Met Burt'' (2011) With Faith Evans * ''Keep the Faith (Faith Evans album), Keep the Faith'' (1998) With Paul Young * ''The Crossing (Paul Young album), The Crossing'' (1993) With Melissa Manchester * ''Don't Cry Out Loud (Melissa Manchester album), Don't Cry Out Loud'' (1978) With Natalie Cole * ''Dangerous (Natalie Cole album), Dangerous'' (1985) * ''Everlasting (Natalie Cole album), Everlasting'' (1987) With Mariah Carey * ''Merry Christmas (Mariah Carey album), Merry Christmas'' (1994) With Al Jarreau * ''High Crime (album), High Crime'' (1984) * ''My Old Friend: Celebrating George Duke'' (2014) With Leonard Cohen * ''The Future (Leonard Cohen album), The Future'' (1992) With Chaka Khan * ''What Cha' Gonna Do for Me'' (1981) With Patti Austin * ''Patti Austin (album), Patti Austin'' (1984) * ''The Real Me (Patti Austin album), The Real Me'' (1988) * ''Love Is Gonna Getcha (Patti Austin album), Love Is Gonna Getcha'' (1990) * ''Carry On'' (1991) * ''That Secret Place'' (1994) * ''On the Way to Love'' (2001) * ''Sound Advice'' (2011) With Bryan Ferry * ''Taxi (Bryan Ferry album), Taxi'' (1993) With Ray Parker Jr. * ''After Dark (Ray Parker Jr. album), After Dark'' (1987) With Minnie Riperton * ''Love Lives Forever'' (1980) With Wynonna Judd * ''What the World Needs Now Is Love (Wynonna Judd album), What the World Needs Now Is Love'' (2003) With Joan Armatrading * ''What's Inside'' (1995) With Olivia Newton-John * ''Soul Kiss'' (1985) With Richie Sambora * ''Undiscovered Soul'' (1998) With Boz Scaggs * ''Fade into Light'' (1996) * ''Dig (Boz Scaggs album), Dig'' (2001) With Cheryl Lynn * ''In Love (Cheryl Lynn album), In Love'' (1979) With Jennifer Holliday * ''Feel My Soul'' (1983) With Roberta Flack * ''Oasis (Roberta Flack album), Oasis'' (1988) * ''Set the Night to Music (album), Set the Night to Music'' (1991) With Michael Bolton * ''Timeless: The Classics'' (1992) * ''Timeless: The Classics Vol. 2'' (1999) With Ilse DeLange * ''Clean Up'' (2003) With James Taylor * ''October Road (James Taylor album), October Road'' (2002) With Jennifer Rush * ''Heart Over Mind (Jennifer Rush album), Heart Over Mind'' (1987) With Eddie Money * ''Life for the Talking'' (1979) With Diane Schuur * ''Friends For Schuur'' (2000) With Philip Bailey * ''Triumph (Philip Bailey album), Triumph'' (1986) With Kenny Loggins * ''Vox Humana (Kenny Loggins album), Vox Humana'' (1985) * ''Leap of Faith (Kenny Loggins album), Leap of Faith'' (1991) * ''The Unimaginable Life'' (1997) With Patti LaBelle * ''Winner in You'' (1986) * ''Burnin' (Patti LaBelle album), Burnin (1991) * ''Timeless Journey'' (2004) With Terence Trent D'Arby * ''Symphony or Damn'' (1993) With Peabo Bryson and Roberta Flack * ''Born to Love (Peabo Bryson and Roberta Flack album), Born to Love'' (1983) With Neil Diamond * ''Primitive (Neil Diamond album), Primitive'' (1984) * ''Headed for the Future'' (1986) * ''Melody Road (album), Melody Road'' (2014) With Donald Fagen * ''The Nightfly'' (1982) With Earth, Wind & Fire * ''Raise!, I've Had Enough'' (1981) With Rickie Lee Jones * ''The Magazine (album), The Magazine'' (1984) * ''Flying Cowboys'' (1989) * ''The Evening of My Best Day'' (2003) With Lionel Richie * ''Lionel Richie (album), Lionel Richie'' (1982) * ''Can't Slow Down (Lionel Richie album), Can't Slow Down'' (1983) * ''Dancing on the Ceiling '' (1986) With Joe Cocker * ''Civilized Man'' (1984) * ''Night Calls (album), Night Calls'' (1991) With Stephanie Mills * ''Merciless (Stephanie Mills album), Merciless'' (1983) With Peter Allen (musician), Peter Allen * ''I Could Have Been a Sailor'' (1979) With Syreeta Wright * ''One to One (Syreeta album), One to One'' (1977) With The Jacksons * '' Destiny'' (1978) * '' Triumph'' (1980) With George Benson * ''Give Me the Night (album), Give Me the Night'' (1980) * ''In Your Eyes (George Benson album), In Your Eyes'' (1983) * ''While the City Sleeps...'' (1986) * ''Songs and Stories'' (2009) With Toto * ''Falling in Between'' (2006) With Aretha Franklin * ''Love All the Hurt Away'' (1981) With Bruno Mars * ''24K Magic (album), 24K Magic'' (2016) With Donald Byrd * ''Thank You...For F.U.M.L. (Funking Up My Life)'' (1978) With
Eric Clapton Eric Patrick Clapton, (born 1945) is an English Rock music, rock and blues guitarist, singer, and songwriter. He is the only List of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees#Multiple inductees, three-time inductee to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fam ...
* ''Behind the Sun (Eric Clapton album), Behind the Sun'' (1985) * ''August (Eric Clapton album), August'' (1986) * ''Journeyman (album), Journeyman'' (1989) * ''Pilgrim (Eric Clapton album), Pilgrim'' (1998) With
Stevie Wonder Stevland Hardaway Morris (born Judkins; born May 13, 1950), known professionally as Stevie Wonder, is an American singer, songwriter, musician and record producer. A prominent figure in popular music during the second half of the 20th century, ...

Stevie Wonder
* ''Songs in the Key of Life'' (1976) * ''Conversation Peace'' (1995) * ''A Time to Love (album), A Time to Love'' (2005) With The Pointer Sisters * ''Special Things'' (1980) * ''Black & White (Pointer Sisters album), Black & White'' (1981) * ''So Excited!'' (1982) * ''Break Out (Pointer Sisters album), Break Out'' (1983)


References

Cited sources Other sources * * * *


External links


Greg Phillinganes
NAMM Oral History Interview (2015) {{DEFAULTSORT:Phillinganes, Greg 1956 births 20th-century American musicians 20th-century male musicians 21st-century American keyboardists 21st-century American male musicians African-American rock musicians African-American pianists American organists American session musicians Cass Technical High School alumni Living people Musicians from Detroit People from Detroit Toto (band) members 20th-century American keyboardists