Bassist Ricky Phillips joined the band Styx in 2003. He says that coming into what many see as a simple pop band changed his playing and made him a better musician. KMUW's Jedd Beaudoin recently spoke with Phillips and has more.

Ricky Phillips began his recording career in the early 1980s with The Babys. The group flirted with major commercial success during its short life and spent a good deal of time on the road with the likes of Cheap Trick. Occasionally, Phillips would run into members of Styx.

Through the years, including the time he spent with Bad English, Phillips maintained those friendships and, in 2003, he received a call from Styx guitarist and vocalist Tommy Shaw. The pair chatted and Shaw suggested that the band would be happy to hire Phillips as bassist and guitarist without audition. But, he added, they couldn’t do that. If Phillips was going to be in the band, he had to prove himself in one more way.

“Tommy said, ‘We have to get into a room and sing. This has to sound like Styx,’” Phillips recalls. “As much singing as I’ve done over the years, I’ve learned that a group of guys will sound completely different when you take out one person and put another one in.”

Phillips was lucky, he says...

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