Charlie "Sugartime" Phillips Biography
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El Paso, Texas 79915

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NOTE: We would like to give a special thanks to Charlie Philips for letting us reprint this story and for the use of the pictures. Also a special thanks to Jon Sisco for letting us reproduce the story that  he wrote for Charlie “SUGARTIME” Philips’ insert for the “FULL CIRCLE” CD.         THANKS

C. Phillips Logo
C. Phillips Logo
C. Phillips Logo


It has been written that a man’s life is made up of different phases and stages of his life that are made up of circles that seemingly overlap one another; even though it may take years for a man to complete the “full circle” of his ambitions and dreams regarding his life and career.

By the early 1970’s a tall boyish looking country singer named Charlie Phillips who was barely out of his twenties, had established himself as a nationally known recording artist. He had enjoyed 18 Nationally Charted Country Music records via recording sessions held in Clovis, New Mexico, New York City, Nashville and Hollywood prior to returning to the legendary Norman Petty Studios to complete the Full Circle of his recording career.

Please take some time to browse  the page . This will take you on a wonderful trip through time and Charlie Phillips recording history.

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: Sugartime music group

  • Produced by Jon Sisco for SUGARTIME MUSIC GROUP
  • Music: Recorded: Norman Petty Studios, Clovis New Mexico .
  • Engineers: Norman Petty & Billy Stull
  • Audio to Digital Transfer, Restoration & Mixing; The 4th Creation Recording Studios, Conroe, Texas. Engineer: Carey Wise
  • Mastered By: Bily Stull, Masterpiece Mastering, South Padre Island, Texas
  • Web Design & Content Mastering: Lynn Weiss, Flip Flop Web Design, Queen Creek, AZ.
  • Special Thanks to Geri and Gary "Pops" Thurlow for editing and  this site.



This country boy from Farwell, Texas, which is on the Texas-New Mexico border, had written a song called “SUGARTIME”, while riding a tractor on a hot, dusty field on his family’s farm. Young Charlie was filled with youthful enthusiasm ,as he felt that he had written a “hit” song at the age of eighteen. He took his song to an innovative record producer named Norman Petty who was located in Clovis, New Mexico.

Norman Petty recognized the commercial appeal of “Sugartime”, and agreed to record young Charlie as the vocalist. Petty scheduled the recording session and insisted on using a studio group that he had put together. Upon arriving at the recording session Phillips was greeted by session leader, Buddy Holly, Who Had already established himself as a recording artist.

After the usual introductions, the group quickly got down to going through the material they were going to record at the session. Charlie soon learned that Holly had a dry sense of humor, after he hummed the opening guitar notes that he wanted to be used on the introduction of “SUGARTIME” to Holly. Instead of playing the notes that Phillips had sang to him on his lead guitar, Holly grinned to everyone and proudly said “ I can do that”, at which time he vocally mimicked young Charlie’s notes. Everyone had a big laugh with Holly’s attempt at comic relief . It was decided that the “A” side of the record , would be a country weeper called ”ONE FADED ROSE”., upon which Buddy Holly played both lead guitar and sang vocal harmony with Charlie. “SUGARTIME” was considered to be the “B” side of the record !!!

At the commencement of the session, Petty had to tell the loud voiced lad to quit singing so loudly, as he did not have to try to sing over the sound of a farm tractor’s motor. Norman assured young Phillips that he could control the volume and level of his powerful voice with his mixing console. Charlie now recalls no one but Norman Petty liked his lengthy vocal intro on the word “Well” at the start of “SUGARTIME” . After some discussion, Norman and Charlie prevailed with their wishes on the opening musical bars of “SUGARTIME”. Petty soon placed Charlie Phillips ‘s master recording with Coral Records. It quickly charted on the national C&W record charts , establishing young Charlie as a new country music star.

Due to the acceptance of “SUGARTIME” in the country music genre, Norman Petty convinced the powers in control of Coral Records to cover the record for the “Pop” music market. Bob Thiele quickly had his highly successful record act , the McGuire sisters, record a cover version of “SUGARTIME, which used the same intro notes that Charlie had asked Buddy Holly to play on Phillip’s original version of the song. The McGuire Sisters also utilized Phillip’s extended “Well” on the on the opening vocal intro.

The McGuire’s recording of “SUGARTIME” skyrocketed to the number one position on the Billboard national popular music charts throughout the world, and quickly became a multi-million record seller. This recorded success immediately established young Phillips as the writer of a song that he would be forever identified with for the rest of his musical career. “SUGARTIME” is now recognized as a popular music standard of contemporary music from the 20th century. It has been used on countless radio and TV national commercials that have hawked everything from breakfast cereals to vitamin supplements.


Charlie celebrating with McGuire Sisters

Charlie Celebrating With The McGuire Sisters


Charlie's last recording session @ Petty's

Last Recording Session At Petty Studios

In an effort to cash in on Charlie’s new found success , Coral quickly scheduled his next recording sessions in New York City to be conducted by Milton Delugg, the head of the “Tonight Show” orchestra at that time. The first release was successful with the release of Charlie’s rerecording of his composition “BE MY BRIDE” racing up the country music charts. Subsequent New York sessions failed to garnish any major chart actions, which quickly soured young Charlie on the “Big Apple” style of recording country music.

As soon as his recording commitment to New York’s Coral label were fulfilled, the “Sugartimer” headed back to Norman Petty’s Clovis, New Mexico studio where he got serious about recording country music.

The new Petty sessions resulted in Charlie being signed to Columbia records where he enjoyed chart action on “WELCOME TO MY WEDDING” and a sequel to his monster song “SUGARTIME“, which was called “NO MORE SUGARTIME”. While working on these sessions with Norman Petty, they came up with the idea for “SUGARTIME TWIST”, which Petty immediately pitched to the McGuire Sisters, who scored a top twenty popular music hit on Phillip’s former label, Coral Records.

BeMyBride Phillips
Charlie 'Sugartime' Phillips 1960s


The Nashville power brokers at Columbia records made the decision that they wanted all of Charlie’s future recordings made under their supervision in the country music capital, utilizing the best of the best in Nashville’s so called “A Team” which was composed of such musical luminaries as Floyd Cramer, Grady Martin, and others of Nashville’s session elitist. These sessions were extremely well produced , which resulted in their very first collaboration, “I GUESS I’LL NEVER LEARN” reaching the coveted NUMBER ONE position on the country music charts..

Subsequent chart record action included “CANCEL THE CALL”, “PLEASE HELP ME BELIEVE” “TIL SUNDAY” and others . Charlie has stated that every song he recorded for


Columbia records charted during his five year tenure in Nashville. Phillips felt they were giving him mediocre songs to record, which resulted in lower positions on the national country music charts. This lack of quality material led to dissatisfaction by Charlie, which made him become discouraged with his prospects in Nashville.

To add to his concerns about the material that was being assigned to him by the A&R people in Nashville, he was highly upset that they turned down his manager’s composition of ‘WELCOME TO MY WORLD”, on which he had recorded the very first “demo” session of for presentation to Columbia records. After the song was rejected for recording consideration by the Columbia big wigs, the legendary Jim Reeves heard Charlie’s original demo session of the song. As they say the rest is history, as Jim Reeves recording of the song became a country music classic in the ensuing years. Charlie's original acetate demo of "Welcome To My World" is included in the new CD compilation "Full Circle".

During the time he was under contract to Columbia, Charley was highly active in the radio broadcasting business due to his involvement with Buddy Holly’s former manager, “Pappy” Dave Stone, in his new home town of Amarillo, Texas. His other interest were very lucrative for Phillips, which made his annual trek to Nashville to record less important in the overall grand scheme of his life’s endeavors. It was at this time that he decided to

become more pro-active in the production of his records. He decided that he would self produce his own future recordings upon the completion of his Columbia contract.

After signing with Dewey Groom’s fabled Longhorn record label, Charlie once again journeyed to the Norman Petty Studios to record his self produced recording of “THE BIG BALL IS IN COW TOWN”, which immediately returned him to the country music charts. The record is almost considered to be the national anthem of the rodeo dance crowd. Along with “SUGARTIME” and “I GUESS I’LL NEVER LEARN”, not a night goes by that Charlie does not have to sing “THE BIG BALL IS IN COW TOWN”.


Due to national chart success of his independent Lone Star recordings, Hollywood came calling . Red Stegall ,who had just enjoyed the success of Ray Charles having a massive pop hit record of his song entitled “HERE WE GO AGAIN”, contacted Charlie and persuaded him to come to Hollywood to record for Jimmy Bowen’s production company that was releasing all of it’s product on Frank Sinatra’s Reprise label. The sessions had such noted session players as Leon Russell and Glen Campbell, who sang the harmony vocals and played lead guitar on the sessions. The song entitled “SOUVENIERS OF SORROW” was released and immediately raced up the country music charts and had all the appearances of being a top ten record for the “Farwell Flash”. But it was not to be !!!

TheBigBall Phillips
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There were only two country artist signed to Reprise, via Jimmy Bowen, who has was responsible for Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra’s moribund recording careers to be resurrected on Sinatra’s Reprise Record label.

For reasons seemingly known only to Mr. Sinatra, he ordered Jimmy Bowen to cancel the recording contracts of Charlie Phillips and Hank Thompson who were contracted to Reprise Records. It was his mandate that he did not record or release hillbilly records on his prized record label. Despite having a record that was unquestionably a country music smash record, as it was charting in all major markets, Sinatra ordered it pulled from distribution and sent Charlie his release from his Reprise contract.

After the Reprise debacle, Charlie was even more disillusioned with the record business, so he concentrated his energies on his real estate investments and radio station work where he was recognized as one of the top country music disc jockeys in the nation . Charlie had been named in a national survey as “MR D.J. USA”, which was the ultimate accolade for his broadcasting endeavors. At this point in the middle 1970’s all recording activities by Charlie were put on hold due to his lack of interest in the required politics.

During these recording locust years for Charlie, Norman Petty had also been concentrating on his radio stations that he had invested heavily in the early 1970’s. In fact he was doing little recording in his world famous studios, as the day to day operation of his radio business was practically consuming all of his energies, which left little time for his creative side to make new hit recordings in Clovis, New Mexico.It was during this hectic time that Norman approached Charlie about taking over the management of his AM/FM radio stations and convert it to a country music format in Clovis.

After seriously considering Petty’s offer for him to move to Clovis and take over the operation of the radio stations, Charley decided to stay where he was due to his real estate and radio interest. Their paths would not cross again until both of them had divested themselves of their radio commitments in the late 1970’s. At this point in time, Norman Petty had sold all of his interest in his radio station operation, which enabled him to invest in the latest state of the art twenty four track recording equipment which he had installed at his opulent Mesa Theater concert hall and recording complex.

Charlie's Record Company Ad Promo


After Charlie and this writer journeyed to Clovis to meet with Norman Petty, an agreement was struck that would have Charlie recording once again under the supervision of Petty. As Phillips told Norman, “the only real money that he had ever made was on his recordings made at Petty’s Clovis studios.” Petty was in accord with Charlie about the money they had made from their efforts, and in fact stated that he made more money on “SUGARTIME” as the publisher through his NOR-VA-JAK publishing company, than any of the other songs that he had ever been associated with, including any Buddy Holly song.

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With a newly found passion for recording again, both Charlie and Norman’s spirits were soaring as they anticipated their return to the highly competitive recording scene. It was also decided that Jon Sisco would be the producer of all the sessions, with the valuable assistance of Billy Stull, who also owned a small studio in Amarillo at the time. Stull was the session leader and had a major hand in arranging all the songs, as well as assisting Norman Petty with the final mixes on the record sessions. No one knew it at the time, that Billy Stull would soon be the heir apparent to the legendary Petty recording studios.

The songs recorded on this compilation were recorded between 1980 and early 1983, until the time that Norman was stricken with leukemia . Due to his diminished health situation, no further recording sessions were conducted at Petty’s recording studios. The Clovis sessions resulted in four songs , “GOING AWAY”, “LOVE QUEEN “,“SHAMBLES OF MY HOME”, and a new version of “SOUVENIERS OF SORROW” being released worldwide on Mike Curb's and Ray Ruff’s OAK RECORDS out of Hollywood.

The recollections of these sessions for this writer are many, as I recall Norman’s constant amazement at the power and range of Phillip’s four full octave vocal range, which enabled Charlie to sing all of his own background harmony parts, from high tenor to the bass parts of a vocal quartet. Norman would always grin when he referred to Charlie as “One Take Charlie” due to his uncanny ability to capture his vocal part on the first recording take. Because of his perfect pitch, and his ability to imprint what he had just sung, Charlie could quickly lay down his accompanying harmony vocal parts.

On some of these sessions he was singing anywhere from two to four different vocal parts, at which Norman would shake his head and say “It sounds like the CHARLIE PHILLIPS SINGERS are in very fine voice tonight”. Several times while recording Charlie’s vocals, Norman would impart to those in attendance that Phillips had the most powerful voice of any one he had ever recorded , due to his immense vocal range.


On many of the recorded songs, Norman would have that special gleam of his in his eyes and would comment that this song would be a good candidate for the “CLOVIS SYMPHONY” to play on. The Clovis Symphony was a rather reclusive entity, in that it always seemed to convene after midnight, when no one else was around to offer any input or observation of what they played on a song. The reality was the Clovis Symphony was none other than Norman Petty playing his various assortment of synthesizers ,on which he could very effectively emulate the sound and arrangements of full string sections.

Prior to Norman Petty untimely death, at age 57, in August of 1984, six completed masters had been recorded and mixed by the Charlie Phillips team, while some dozen more had the production on them completed, but they had never been finalized with a mix down of the finished product. Some of the titles that were recorded at the last sessions were, “BROTHER JUKEBOX”, “LONELY WOMEN”, “MORE AND MORE”, which years later became hit records for Mark Chestnut, Steve Wariner and Charlie Pride, while Charlie Phillips’ unmixed versions languished in Petty's tape vaults.

In recent years several international reissue record companies have mined the Norman Petty vaults for anything that was recorded at Petty’s world famous Clovis studio. There has been literally scores of CD’s re-released all over the world. Several different reissue labels have inquired to Charlie as to whether or not he had a copy of his landmark recording of “SUGARTIME” and “ONE FADED ROSE” which featured Buddy Holly. When told that he had a copy of the original master that Norman had given to him in the early 1980’s they were ecstatic. Upon learning that there was enough material in Petty’s vaults to complete a full CD if it was mixed down, they insisted that it be finished so they could release it worldwide.

After some two decades “the last Norman Petty sessions” have been completed, where they display the full depth and dynamics of Charlie Phillip’s vocal range. I hope the listeners enjoy these recordings as much as the participants did in putting together this labor of love. Each one of us has a special place assigned in our hearts for the many fabulous hours that we toiled in Clovis during those halcyon days of 1980 through 1983 with our friend , the legendary Norman Petty.


Phillips completed the full circle of his recording career with his return to Clovis, where he started out as a teenager filled with dreams of his finding fame and fortune as a country music recording artist. It has been written that you can’t go home again. Charlie Phillips did ! His recording odyssey of some twenty five years took him to the finest recording studios in the world located in New York City, Nashville, and Hollywood, which resulted in over eighteen (18) recordings that charted on the national `country music charts, but his last recordings were done at Norman Petty’s legendary Clovis studio.

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Charlie's Personal Appearance bill-2 Charlie's personal Appearance bill
Charlie DJing at KZIP station
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C. Phillips

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All Rights Reserved: Sugartime Music Group © 2009

All Rights Reserved: Sugartime Music Group © 2009

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