A singer/songwriter/activist, Utah Phillips walked the walk of the working man. A teenage runaway, Phillips lived as a railroad hobo first gaining musical attention for songs he wrote that were recorded by Rosalie Sorrels and then his 1973 hit “Moose Turd Pie,” a story of life as a railroad laborer. An Army veteran who sang for peace, he took all of his vast life experience and put it into his music. He spent the past 21 years living with his family in Nevada City, California, where he was known as a community activist. His humor, sincerity and honesty kept Phillips connected with younger generations of folk artists, including the late Kate Wolf and Ani DiFranco, a collaboration that earned the pair a Grammy nomination.
Phillips died Friday (5/23) at 73 of complications from the chronic heart disease that he has suffered with since 2004. His ongoing health problems caused him to give up touring in 2007.
From the 2007 Strawberry Festival: