Phil Keaggy was the first professional player of national renown to perform with Jim's guitars. Phil commissioned and helped design the first cedar-topped SJ cutaway model back in the early 80s. He then obtained a second SJ that he recently gave as a gift to a fellow contemporary Christian musician. In his 1992 Phil Keaggy Acoustic Guitar Style instructional video, Phil plays both of these guitars, and describes them as "two of the best guitars ever made."
Five of Phil's albums feature his Olson playing especially prominently: The Wind and the Wheat (acoustic and electric instrumentals in the jazz fusion/New Age genre), Beyond Nature (brilliant acoustic instrumentals, many with strong Celtic or classical influences), Way Back Home (acoustic folk songs), Acoustic Sketches (acoustic instrumentals and improvisations), and On the Fly (electric and acoustic instrumentals). See the Soundbites page for some examples of Phil's Olson playing drawn from these recordings. Beyond Nature in particular is an oft-cited favorite recording of Olson fans; you can read some comments from the recording engineer, jb, at our Beyond Nature Sessions page.
Phil recently teamed up with fellow Olson artists Scott Dente and Wes King to record Invention, an album of vocal and instrumental works featuring all three players on electric and acoustic guitars as well as vocals. Phil Wes talk about their Olson guitars in the interview, Coffee Talk: Phil Keaggy and Wes King.
You'll find lots of information about Phil and his recordings at the three main Keaggy web sites:
- Phil Keaggy The official PK page
- Way Back Home The first Phil Keaggy home page
- PKFans.com Links to tons of PK resources
Phil is still playing that very first cedar-top SJ; it has a cutaway, Indian rosewood back and sides, and dove inlays on the fretboard (pointing toward the bridge). It remains his "all-time favorite" acoustic guitar, and is still his main performance instrument after all these years. Here are a few of our favorite photos of Phil and his Olson. More coming....
Jim Olson made a left-handed Olson SJ cutaway as a gift to Paul McCartney, to be delivered by Phil who has been a devoted admirer of "Macca's" music since his childhood. Phil presented the guitar to Paul when Phil played at the wedding of a friend of Linda McCartney. The two of them got to jam together on mirror-image Olsons!