Phil Kelsey

Under Appreciated

That is not how everyone does it though, and a lot of people apparently like that sort of thing, since they are everywhere on the Internet.  The most prominent post on Phil and the Frantics is a really snide piece by Mark Prindle from entitled “Frantically Ripping Off Everybody They Can”.  (One nice thing about there being a Wikipedia article is that it usually comes up at or near the top of a Google search rather than junk like this).  The article calls the band “Phil and the F--kups” (and that was just in the second paragraph) and names the front man Phil “Philthy Animal” Kelsey.  (“Philthy Animal” is a real person by the way; that is the nickname of Phil Taylor, the longtime drummer for the British hard rock band Motörhead that also features Lemmy).  Needless to say, the Prindle piece has almost no reliable information; it doesn’t even get the name of their hit song right. 
Phil Kelsey was born in Dallas into a musical family; his parents had connections to both jazz and gospel music.  His family moved to Phoenix, Arizona when he was in grade school.  By the 7th grade, he was already in his first band and played at school dances.  For his last two years in high school, he headed the Four Gents, a 1950’s-style rock combo. 
Phil and the Frantics came later and consisted of Phil Kelsey (saxophone and vocals), Bill Powell (guitar), Rick Rose (keyboards), John Lambert (bass), and Steve Forman (drums).  Forman left the band to join the Eclectic Mouse and was replaced by a new drummer, Joe Martinez
Phil Kelsey was a hustler, and his band was playing at the Arizona State Fair by 1963.  They even had their own nightclub called The Cave, where his band was the headliner.  The band attracted the attention of a local character named Jim Musil, Jr., who had a lot of friends in Los Angeles, including the now infamous Phil Spector.  Jim Musil, Sr. owned several night spots and leased one of them to Phil Kelsey, who reopened it as the Frantic Den in 1965; but problems with the Fire Marshal led to their relocation to the club downstairs called JD’s
Phil and the Frantics were a real hit in their new digs; Phil recalls:  “We were really surprised.  It was real mania, the kids were going crazy.  So they had us back again, with advertising this time, and we drew three times the crowd.” 
After John Lambert and Bill Powell left the band, Phil Kelsey later put together a third line-up of the Frantics; but by then, their sound was out of step with the current scene. 
Phil Kelsey and Steve Dodge – who had been the lead guitarist for another popular local band, the Vibratos – drifted around PhoenixLos Angeles and Las Vegas; they called themselves Phil Mark Five and, with the addition of Bobby Blood on trumpet, formed a band called the Babies (not the same band as the 1970’s British band the Babys).  They landed a record deal with ABC-Dunhill Records in 1969 and also toured with several major acts of that period, including Three Dog Night and Blues Image.  The band released three 45’s, though none went anywhere, and they later learned that the album would not come out after all. 
Afterward, Phil Kelsey operated more behind the scenes, becoming a session musician and songwriter.  He worked with Earth, Wind and FireBilly Preston and Brenton Wood, among others. 
(August 2012)
Last edited: March 22, 2021