James Phillips: Famous For Not Being Famous

James Phillips’s music was born at the same time as the Soweto Riots and then fused in a strangely comfortable way with the punk music explosion.

His songwriting bloomed through the apartheid regime’s darkest years and into the dawning of the new South Africa. Despite his often arrogant and undisciplined way of approaching his life, the legacy he leaves is that of one of the most aware, articulate and passionate artists to have been produced by this strange land.

Lloyd Gedye’s review
Cult-rocker James Phillips legacy is captured in this great 50-minute documentary by director Lloyd Ross.
Ross is the perfect person to put together this film, seeing as he was a friend to Phillips and released some of his best work on his legendary independent label Shifty Records. The film traces Phillips narrative from the birth of East rand punk with Corporal Punishment, through the Voelvry tour of 1989 until his premature death in 1995 at the age of 36. The documentary also features some great live performances by peers Koos Kombuis, Matthew Van Der Want, Urban Creep, Robin Auld and Phillip’s Afrikaans alter ego Bernoldus Niemand.

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