19 July 1941, Chicago, Illinois, USA. Although this excellent guitarist later became a respected session musician, his name is synonymous with You Cant Sit Down, a propulsive two-part instrumental recorded with his group, the Phil Upchurch Combo. The band, with Upchurch on guitar, comprised Cornell Muldrow (organ), David Brooks (saxophone), Mac Johnson (trumpet) and Joe Hoddrick (drums). Muldrow wrote the tune and had recorded an earlier version. You Cant Sit Down reached the US Top 30 in 1961 and the UK Top 40 on its reissue five years later. However, its influence was felt far beyond such placings, as the tune became a staple part of almost every budding US fraternity or bar band. Upchurch began playing in R&B backing bands, including those of the Kool Gents, the Dells, the Spaniels and for Dee Clark, who used You Cant Sit Down as a theme song.
He later appeared on releases by Bo Diddley, Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed and Howlin Wolf, and in the 70s guested on sessions for several fusion artists including Grover Washington Jnr. , George Benson (Breezin and In Flight) and the Crusaders. His own work was rather overshadowed by this workload while the artists inventive style was marred by an anonymity resulting from his many supporting roles. His most successful collaboration was with fellow Chicagoan, Tennyson Stephens, a keyboard player whose vocals were important to the duos success in the R&B market in the mid-70s. In the 90s he had mellowed and was playing smooth jazz guitar.
Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.