Phil Flowers was a versatile artist who sustained a career as a performer and recording artist for nearly 50 years. Born in Longwood, NC in 1934, he joined the Air Force in the early 1950s and was stationed in Washington, D.C. While in the Air Force, he joined their "Tops In Blues" musical revue. This experience groomed Flowers as a professional performer, giving him the opportunity to tour the country and rewarding him with a regular income. Flowers worked consistently in DC area clubs such as Benny's Rebel Room during the mid-1950s. And he worked on the downtown DC strip for almost a decade, backed by the drummer TNT Tribble. They often had gigs at the Hayloft on 14th St. N.W. and less frequently at Rands and The Spa.
In the late 1950s, Flowers worked with Lillian Claiborne of DC Records and Ben Adelman owner of Tru-tone recording studios and Empire Records. Flowers partnered with Claiborne and Adelman on their songwriting venture, LIL-PHIL-BEN Publications, from 1962 to 1964. (Flowers assumed pseudonyms such as “Skip Manning” and “Chris Allen” for his songwriting and recording work.)
Phil Flowers’ recordings – which were a variety of rock 'n' roll, pop, soul, and gospel - were released on labels including Mercury Records' Wing subsidiary, Hollywood and Empire Records, Domino, Almanac, Sway, Wham and Josie. Due to his ability to mimic other popular vocalists such as Fats Domino, Sam Cooke and Nat King Cole, Phil Flowers was known as "The Man with a Thousand Voices." Some even called him “The Black Elvis.” On his 1958 rocking tune “No Kissin’ At the Hop”, Flowers bears a striking resemblance to Little Richard and Chuck Berry.
In the early 1960s, he recorded the gospel LP, “Alpha and Omega” with his family. His song "Cry on My Shoulder" (1967) on DOT Records, which has a sound similar to Solomon Burke, garnered national attention and led to Flowers performing on the Dick Clark Show. In 1968, he released the LP 'Our Man in Washington,' which was well-received, although these records did not make the industry charts. Flowers' song "Slippin’ Through My Fingers" was recorded by British group The Chartbusters, and his tune "I May Never Pass This Way Again" was recorded by Glen Campbell.
Phil Flowers’ career highlights include performing at the White House in 1968 during the Lyndon Johnson administration. That same year after the April 4th assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Flowers – along with his group The Flower Shop - performed throughout the city at the request of DC Mayor Walter Washington in an effort to calm residents following the riots. (In the early 1970’s, he and The Flower Shop had songs out on Bell and A&M Records.)
Over the years, Flowers performed at Las Vegas’ The New Vegas Lounge in addition to locations abroad including Saudi Arabia, Bermuda, Puerto Rico, and Europe. Phil Flowers was living in Montgomery County, MD, when he died from cancer in January 2001 at age 66.
"Long Tall Sally is having a ball. She’s rocking with a cat about 3 feet tall"
- No Kissin' at the Hop