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Harold Adolphus Philips
Born (1929-01-15)15 January 1929
Laventille, Trinidad
Died 5 July 2000(2000-07-05) (aged 71)
Toxteth, Liverpool
Cause of death house fire
Other names Lord Woodbine
Occupation Musician, music promoter

Harold Adolphus Philips (15 January 1929 – 5 July 2000), known as Lord Woodbine, was a Trinidadian calypsonian and music promoter. He is regarded by some as the musical mentor of The Beatles, and has been called the "sixth Beatle".[1][2]

Early life[edit]

Philips was born in Laventille, Trinidad. In 1943, at the age of 14, he lied about his age and joined the RAF. After World War II, he went back to Trinidad in 1947, where he started to sing calypso. He returned to England in 1948 on the HMT Empire Windrush, the ship which carried the first boatful of West Indian immigrants to post war Britain. The boat also transported two other calypso singers, Aldwyn Roberts (Lord Kitchener) and Egbert Moore (Lord Beginner).[3]

Philips lived in Clapham before moving to Wellington in Shropshire. His calypso band, Lord Woodbine and his Trinidadians, was one of the first to tour England.

The Jacaranda Club in Liverpool

Philips had a variety of jobs in the 1950s, and opened the New Colony Club in Liverpool. He also sang calypso and played the guitar. He played a tenor pan as part of the first professional steel band in England, the All Caribbean Steel Band, which was formed by Gerry Gobin in 1955, and played regularly at the Joker's Club and then the Jacaranda Club in Liverpool, owned by Allan Williams. Philips later played with the All Caribbean Steel Band in their television appearance on the Opportunity Knocks in July 1965. His music and its influence remain relatively obscure because little of his music was recorded.[3]

The Beatles[edit]

Philips was a promoter of The Beatles in their teenage years, then known as the Silver Beetles, and they also played at the Jacaranda Club. The nascent band was occasionally known as "Woodbine's Boys" due to their close relationship. The Beatles played at a new club, New Cabaret Artists' Club, that Philips and Williams opened in 1960, and he helped with their first visit to Hamburg in 1960. He was in favour of adding percussion to their four-guitar band and Pete Best joined John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison and Stuart Sutcliffe in August 1960. Philips drove the Beatles to Hamburg in a Volkswagen van. En route, they were photographed together at Arnhem Oosterbeek War Cemetery. He performed as Lord Woodbine on the same stage as the Beatles at their first performance in Hamburg in August 1960.[3]

Philips became the manager of another Liverpool club, the Blue Angel, in 1961, also owned by Williams. After an argument with Williams over fees, the Beatles engaged Brian Epstein as their manager in November 1961 and lost contact with Philips.[3]

Later and private life[edit]

Philips married Helen (Ena) Agoro in 1949, in Liverpool. She sang with another of his bands, the Cream of Trinidad. They lived in Toxteth, and had one son and seven daughters.[3]

He later ran second-hand shop. He and his wife died in a fire at their home in Toxteth.[4]

His daughter, Barbara Philips became a playwright, and wrote episodes for Brookside.[5]

In fiction[edit]

In the 1994 film Backbeat, Lord Woodbine was played by the actor Charlie Caine.[6]


  1. ^ Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, James McGrath, "Lord Woodbine: The forgotten sixth Beatle", The Independent, 1 July 2010
  2. ^ Alan Clayson, 'Lord Woodbine', The Guardian, 10 July 2000
  3. ^ a b c d e James McGrath, "Phillips, Harold Adolphus (1929–2000)=", Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, Oxford University Press, Sept 2012, accessed 16 Jan 2013
  4. ^ Obituary, The Times, 7 July 2000
  5. ^ Obituary, The Guardian, 10 July 2000
  6. ^ Charlie Caine on IMDb

External links[edit]


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