Album: Sea of Love (1959)
Charted: 2
  • songfacts ®
  • Lyrics
  • Phil Phillips was born John Phillip Baptiste in Lake Charles, Louisiana, and in 1958 he was working there as a bellhop. There was a girl named Verdie Mae Thomas who he was trying to impress, and since he was good with a guitar, he decided to do it with a song. In the Billboard Book of One Hit Wonders, Phillips is quoted as saying: "I had my guitar, so I went and wrote this song, 'Sea of Love.' You see, she really didn't believe in me. But I felt if I could sing about it - a sea of love where it's quiet and peaceful - I could really show her how much I loved her and cared for her."

    A gas meter reader heard Baptiste practicing the song and told him to see a record producer named George Khoury, who had him record the song and convinced him to take the stage name "Phil Phillips." The song was released on Khoury's independent record label, and did so well in Louisiana that Mercury Records picked up the song to distribute nationally, where it became a big hit. Phillips claims he earned just $6,800 from the song, and he didn't even get the girl, which is OK by him. Said Phillips, "I married the right one though. It's a good thing I didn't marry that Verdie."
  • The famous harmony vocals on this song were performed by a group of friends Phillips brought to the studio. He had to teach them how to sing it.
  • Phillips goes down in history as a one hit wonder, although he did release 4 more singles. He later became a DJ at KJEF in Jennings, Louisiana.
  • Two other versions of this song entered the US Top-40. First, Del Shannon hit #33 in 1984, then The Honeydrippers took it to #2 in 1984. The Honeydrippers were a pet side project of Robert Plant's, scratching his itch to have an R&B band. They were made up of Led Zeppelin alumni Plant and Jimmy Page, Yardbirds alumnus Jeff Beck, Nile Rodgers from the band Chic (Yowza, yowza, yowza!), and Paul Shaffer. Yes, that would be Late Night with David Letterman, look-alike for Curb Your Enthusiasm's Larry David, that Paul Shaffer. He's on keyboards.
    Please allow us this tangent while we're on David Letterman and 1984: Letterman was a guest star in the Marvel comic series The Avengers in that year. Story here, with cover shot. The story even had Paul Shaffer wearing a Captain America shirt.
  • Robert Plant was actually quite horrified with this song's success for The Honeydrippers. The A-side was "Rockin' At Midnight," a cover of Elvis' "Good Rockin' Tonight," with "Sea of Love" as the B-side. But the single got flipped. Plant feared that this would destroy his reputation and he would be typecast as a crooner, so he deliberately cut off the career of the Honeydrippers. He was toying with the idea of bringing them back in the 21st century with Ahmet Ertegün, but at the latter's passing Plant put the idea on permanent hold.
  • Sea of Love was the name of a 1989 movie starring Al Pacino and Ellen Barkin. Phillips' version of the song was used in the film.
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Comments: 5

  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn December 15, 1984, a video of the Honey Dripper's "Sea of Love" was aired on the Dick Clark ABC-TV Saturday-afternoon program, 'American Bandstand'...
    At the time the song was at #5 on Billboard's Top 100 chart, two weeks later it would peak at #3 {for 1 week} and it spent eighteen weeks on the Top 100...
    And on December 9th, 1984 it reached #1 {for 1 week} on Billboard's Adult Contemporary Tracks chart.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn August 5, 1959, Phil Phillips performed "Sea of Love" on the Dick Clark ABC-TV weekday-afternoon program 'American Bandstand'...
    At the time the song was at #21 on Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart, three weeks later it would peak at #2* {for 2 weeks} and it spent 18 weeks on the Top 100...
    The Honeydrippers covered the song in 1984, their version peaked at #3 on the Top 100...
    Phil Phillips, born Philip Baptiste, will celebrate his 92nd birthday come next March 14th, 2018...
    *The two weeks that "Sea of Love" was at #2, the #1 record for both those weeks was "The Three Bells" by the Browns.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn July 31, 1965, the Hondells performed "Sea of Love*" on the Dick Clark ABC-TV network Saturday-afternoon program 'American Bandstand'...
    Their covered version didn't made Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; between 1964 and 1966 they had three Top 100 records, "Little Honda" {#9 in 1964}, "My Buddy Seat" {#87 in 1965} and a covered version the Lovin' Spoonful's "Younger Girl" {#52 in 1966}...
    * The original version of "Sea of Love" by Phil Phillips peaked at #2 {for 2 weeks} in 1959, and Del Shannon covered it in 1982, his version peaked at #33 {for 2 weeks}.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn February 3rd 1979, a sold-out concert at the Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, was held to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the plane crash that killed Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and the Big Bopper...
    Wolfman Jack hosted the show, and one of the acts* to perform was Del Shannon...
    It had been thirteen years since Del had his last charted record on Billboard's Hot Top 100; on May 1st, 1966 his covered version of Miss Toni Fisher's "The Big Hurt" entered the Top 100 at position #95, the following week it rose one position to #94 and that was it 2nd and last week on the chart...
    Two years later in 1981 his last charted record, "Sea of Love", debut on the Top 100 on December 6th, 1981 at #81 {See the next post below}...
    * Others acts on the bill were Jimmy Clanton, the Drifters, and a special appearance by original Cricket, Nikki Sullivan.
  • Barry from Sauquoit, NyOn January 16th 1982, Del Shannon performed "Sea of Love" on the ABC-TV program 'American Bandstand'...
    One month earlier December 6th, 1981 his covered version entered Billboard's Hot Top 100 chart; and on January 31st, 1982 it peaked at #33 (for 2 weeks) and spent 12 weeks on the Top 100...
    It was his 17th and last record to entered the Top 100 chart (three of them made the Top 10, with one peaking at #1, "Runaway", for 4 weeks in 1961)...
    R.I.P. Mr. Shannon, born Charles Weedon Westover, (1934 - 1990).
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