Ricky Phillips was born in Iowa but raised in Northern California. He comes from a musical family and both of his parents were actively involved in their local theater."My family sang in the car...everywhere we went...My dad would start...then my mom...and my brother, and I would come up with harmony parts and go for it", recalls Phillips. He started piano at the age of 6 and remembers he and his brother hanging around the theater and acting at an early age. "Mike was a great actor and passed me up on the piano in no time. I'd rather be out playing Little League or jamming to my dad's records than "Worlox" learning lines or reading music. I think I had 7 piano teachers over the years and I hated them all." A few years later, he began sneaking out his dad's Martin guitar. He taught himself Beatles, Stones and whatever else he could lift off the radio. By the age of twelve, he began forming his first band with childhood friend Steve Gunner. They called themselves The Warlox. For a few years, Phillips was consumed by the guitar until one week his bass player decided to leave his bass at Rick's house where they were rehearsing. "I was beginning to notice (Paul) McCartney's melodic lines were my favorite parts of the songs and was blown away by the aggressive style of John Entwhistle...so I played this guys bass...like...all week end. My hands were shot and the blisters were pretty bad, but I was hooked."
Phillips continued pursuing his love of the guitar through school but eventually quit in his senior year at San Francisco State to play full time. He spent the next few years playing 4 and 5 sets a night in rock clubs around the US and Canada. "That was my real education...on a lot of levels," quips Phillips. "I was looking at graduating and all I really wanted to do was play music. I had to at least give it a shot."
At a certain point, he knew he had to make his move to either New York or Los Angeles. He ended up in Los Angeles with a suitcase, a bass, a guitar and 20 borrowed dollars in his pocket. He auditioned for a high profile LA band and got the gig. That gig got him the exposure he needed. Marc Salter, who was working for the British band The Babys, saw Ricky play. John Waite was replacing himself as The Babys' bass player so he could concentrate purely on fronting the band. Salter tracked Ricky down and brought Waite to meet him in a Hollywood music store where Ricky had begun working for $100 a week. Phillips recalls, "I grabbed a bass off the wall...price tag swinging and walked across the street where they'd been holding auditions for three weeks. We played two new songs 'HEAD FIRST' and 'RUN TO MEXICO' and then Waite, Cain, and myself sang the chorus to 'ISN'T IT TIME' and something else... I don't remember what... They left the room for five minutes and came back with their manager Chip Rachlin and asked me to join the band."
After 3 years, and three great albums, The Babys all went their separate ways and Rick began writing, doing sessions and extensive touring as a sideman. He landed some of his music in the film, The Terminator, which opened the door to more film and television work. Eventually, at a vineyard in Saratoga California, he and Jonathan Cain would decide to put another band together, which would become Bad English. In essence it was the merging of The Babys and Journey, with a platinum selling debut album garnishing #1 and #3 CHR hits, a #1 Rock Chart hit, and 3 other top 40 hits. Rick's next venture was with Jimmy Page and David Coverdale. Another platinum release called was Coverdale/Page. During the recording of this record, Ricky was building a studio in North Hollywood for his writing and production projects. The first CD he produced and engineered in this studio was the critically acclaimed Frederiksen/Phillips CD. A duo with ex-Toto singer Fergie Frederiksen which featured guests from YES, Chicago, Journey, Mr. Mister, Tower of Power, Mr. Big, CCR, and an array of fellow session players. Ricky also produced Fergie's solo release, Equilibrium and the band Elements of Friction.
In 2003, Ricky became a member of Styx replacing Glen Burtnik.