A Rockapaedia Obituary

Phil May

Band: The Pretty Things

photo of Phil May

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    Phil May died aged seventy-five on 15th May 2020, in a hospital in King's Lynn, Norfolk, United Kingdom, from complications following hip surgery after a cycling accident. Phil was survived by his partner and two children.

    Phil May was born Philip Wadey in Dartford, Kent, United Kingdom and was raised by his aunt and uncle, whose surname was May. In childhood he was sent back to live with his mother and stepfather, whose surname was Kattner, but later decided to change his name back to May.

    Phil May formed the Pretty Things at Sidcup Art College in 1963 with guitarist Dick Taylor, who had recently left the fledgling Rolling Stones. With Phil May as lead singer, the band became part of the British blues rock scene and quickly gained a recording contract. They became popular and had hit singles including the UK Top Ten hit, "Don't Bring Me Down".

    In the late 1960's, The Pretty Things started to branch out into psychedelia and Phil May became a prominent counterculture figure, known for his claim of having "the longest hair in Britain" - also for drug-taking and bisexuality. The Pretty Thing's nineteen sixty-eight album "S.F. Sorrow", which was released on the Motown imprint Rare Earth, was regarded as the first rock opera. The songs and lyrics were based on stories written by Phil May, which were often written whilst the album was being recorded. Phil May later admitted that his usage of LSD had a major impact on the album, saying that it was like a sharpening of the imagination for him and that he did not think S.F. Sorrow would have been possible without LSD. image of Phil May
     Phil May remained with the Pretty Things until they retired in 2018, following a final concert with guests including David Gilmour and Van Morrison. In 1976 a new group called the Fallen Angels, led by guitarist Mickey Finn, with Greg Ridley from Spooky Tooth and Humble Pie, Twink from the Pretty Things, and Bob Weston from Fleetwood Mac set out to record an album and for vocals recruited Phil May. However, after they had recorded only eight partially complete songs, everyone but Phil May abandoned the project and Phil May recruited some more players to complete the album which was only released in the Netherlands.


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music:' - S.F. Sorrow - album - by The Pretty Things