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Phil Seamen

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Biography

Phillip William “Phil” Seamen (1926–1972) was an English jazz drummer.

Seamen was born on 28th August 1926 in Burton-on-Trent, and began playing drums at the age of six, turning professional at the age of eighteen by joining Nat Gonella and his Georgians in 1944. He joined the Tommy Sampson Orchestra in 1948, and by 1949, Seamen and tenor saxist Danny Moss had formed a bebop quintet from within the ranks. which was featured on a radio broadcast by the orchestra in September 1949.

He then went on to play in the Joe Loss Orchestra for about fourteen months, the most popular dance band of the time, followed by the top job with Jack Parnell from 1951 until mid 1954. Seamen was much sought after during the 1950s, also playing in Kenny Graham’s Afro-Cubists projects from 1952 to 1958, with the Joe Harriott Quartet from 1954 onwards, the Ronnie Scott Orchestra and Sextet, and an ever extending list including Dizzy Reece, Victor Feldman, Jimmy Deuchar, Kenny Baker, Vic Ash, Don Rendell, Stan Tracey, Tubby Hayes, and Laurie Johnson, as well as blues stars Big Bill Broonzy and Josh White.

He married the young West End dancer Leonie Franklin in 1956, whom he had met while with Parnell, working together in the show Jazz Wagon. On 8th February 1957 Seamen was finally on his way to America, about to fulfill a lifelong dream. The Ronnie Scott Sextet were going over on the Queen Mary to do a tour as part of a Musicians’ Union exchange deal, but Seamen was stopped at Customs and arrested for possession of drugs.

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