Phil Miller, Canterbury Scene Influence, Dead at 68
Influential British prog musician Phil Miller has died at the age of 68.
The guitarist was best known for his work with Hatfield and the North, National Health, Matching Mole and Delivery, along with his own band, In Cahoots, and a series of further collaborations.
Miller gained attention for creating a blend of the blues, jazz and rock genres. He became a leading light of the Canterbury scene through his work with Hatfield and the North and National Health, often regarded as central to the movement, alongside Soft Machine, Caravan and Gong.
His first band, Delivery, formed in 1966, included saxophonist Lol Coxhill and singer Carol Grimes, plus keyboardist Steve Miller, his brother, who later joined Caravan. Drummers Pip Pyle and Laurie Allan went on to join Gong. In 1971, Phil Miller moved on to Matching Mole, which was formed by Soft Machine member Robert Wyatt.
Hatfield and the North originally existed from 1971 until 1975, while a number reunions took place in the past decade. National Health came next, in 1975, and originally included drummer Bill Bruford. Miller later created In Cahoots as a vehicle for his own work. He notched up nearly 40 album credits spanning Delivery’s only release, 1970’s Fools Meeting, and Mind Over Matter, the most recent In Cahoots LP from 2011.
Despite the strong Canterbury connection, TeamRock reported that he’d always been “bemused” with the reference. “It’s a bit artificial, although I use the term myself just because it helps some people understand roughly the stylistic area that the music is in," he said in 2015. "People like to have pigeonholes in which to put things. I’m sure I do myself. It’s human nature.”
Tributes came from a range of artists from across the prog genre. King Crimson’s Jakko Jakszyk tweeted, “I'm sorry to tell that Benji called a few hours back to sadly inform me that the great Phil Miller has left us! Very sad.” Former Gong man Steve Hillage called the news “desperately sad” and added, “I miss you Phil.” Current Gong member Kavus Torabi called Miller “one of my favorites."
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