“With heavy hearts we share the news that Phil Chen passed away on the morning of Dec. 14, 2021, after a long battle with cancer,” read a statement on Chen’s official Facebook page. “He spent his final days surrounded by family and close friends, and cherished time with his grandchildren, who always brightened his day. He will be missed greatly and his contagious passion for music and positive energy on and off the stage will be remembered always.
“‘Master your music, your future is immeasurable,’” the statement continued. “We thank you for your outpouring of love and support during this difficult time.”
Born on Dec. 25, 1940, in Kingston, Jamaica, Chen moved to England in the late ’60s and worked with many high-profile musicians over the next decade. He played on Beck’s classic 1975 album Blow by Blow (credited as “Phil Chenn”), Donovan’s Cosmic Wheels and several Stewart albums, including Blondes Have More Fun, which included the smash hit “Da Ya Think I’m Sexy?”
Chen also joined the Butts Band, formed by ex-Doors drummer John Densmore and guitarist Robby Krieger, in 1973. He remained with them for one year and played on their eponymous 1973 debut. Chen’s association with former Doors members continued for decades, as he joined Manzarek–Krieger in 2004 and performed with the duo until 2013.
Drummer Carmine Appice, who played in Stewart’s band with Chen, also paid tribute to the bassist in a Facebook post. “Very sad to find out my old friend and rhythm section partner in the Rod Stewart Group, Phil Chen, lost his battle with cancer today,” Appice wrote. “I loved Phil as a person and a great bass player. He will be missed.”
In Memoriam: 2021 Deaths
Remembering the musicians, actors, producers and others who have died in 2021.