Phil Williams passes

Vivian and Phil Williams

Phil Williams, pioneering musician, promoter, and record company owner in the Pacific Northwest, died on February 16. He had been ill for some time and was 80 years when he passed.

His was a familiar face in bluegrass circles, performing since the mid-1960s with a variety of groups, often with his wife, champion fiddler Vivian Williams. They left behind many recordings with the Tall Timer Boys, and as a duo performing as Vivian and Phil Williams.

Together they also ran Voyager Records starting in 1967, releasing their own recordings and collections of traditional and historical fiddle music of the United States. Voyager published a range of instructional materials as well, including tune books and workshop materials for teaching mandolin and fiddle.

Phil developed a reputation as a first-rate audio engineer, and published a number of articles in professional journals.

He was also a co-founder of the Northwest Folklife Festival, which has drawn large crowds to Seattle each year since 1971.

People in the Northwest region will remember Phil for his tremendous generosity and love for the music and the people who played it.

The Voyager Records web site retains a wealth of information on Vivian and Phil, and their extensive work preserving the music of the Northwestern folk and fiddle traditions. Vivian continues to manage the company.

Vivian tells us that she won’t hold a traditional funeral, but will schedule a memorial event later in the spring to celebrate Phil’s life, and his passion for traditional string music and dancing.

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About the Author

John Lawless

John had served as primary author and editor for The Bluegrass Blog from its launch in 2006 until being folded into Bluegrass Today in September of 2011. He continues in that capacity here, managing a strong team of columnists and correspondents.