Philip Jeays

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One of the most extraordinary singer/songwriters in recent British memory, Philip Jeays was born in Taunton, Somerset, in 1962, although he did not consider music as a career until the early '80s, when…
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One of the most extraordinary singer/songwriters in recent British memory, Philip Jeays was born in Taunton, Somerset, in 1962, although he did not consider music as a career until the early '80s, when a three-year stay in France introduced him to the work of the late Jacques Brel. Returning to England in 1983, he took his formal music lessons from his mother, herself a trained Royal Academy of Music opera singer, and began writing his first songs.

Over the next decade,Jeays played around the London folk and poetry circuit, building a small but loyal following with a remarkable repertoire of songs cast firmly in the French tradition of chanson, but geared wholly to his own Englishness: a hybrid that only sometime-humorist Jake Thackeray had truly mastered in the past.

In 1996, Jeays was performing at the London's Canal Café Theatre when he was spotted by Tom Robinson, who offered him some support gigs. Months later, he made his debut at the Edinburgh Festival, winning a Spirit of the Fringe Award. The following year brought an appearance at Canada's Vancouver International Comedy Festival where, despite not actually being a comedy act, Jeays' physical performing style and droll lyrics were nevertheless a major success. Further Edinburgh Festival appearances in 1998 and 1999 were followed by the self-release of Jeays' debut CD, October. Recording with his then-regular band of David Harrod (piano), John Peacock (guitar), William George Q (bass), and Jezza Campbell (drums), two further albums, Cupid Is a Drunkard (in 2000 -- again on the heels of the Edinburgh Festival) and The Ballad of Ruben Garcia (2002) duly followed, while Jeays also began supplementing his live work with regular British radio appearances. With accordion and organist Janet Beale replacing Q, his fourth album, Fame, was released in the middle of 2003.