Musician Phil Pollard dies in Richmond

Phil Pollard

Phil Pollard

Phil Pollard, a staple of the Knoxville music scene, has died.

Pollard was best known for his work in Phil Pollard and his Band of Humans, The Bearded, The Slomski Brothers, The Lonetones and Sara Schwabe and her Yankee Jass Band. He was a multi-instrumentalist, best known as a percussionist.

A longtime Knoxville resident, Pollard, his wife, Dawn, and the couple's three children, moved to Richmond, Va., several years ago, but still traveled to Knoxville to perform on a regular basis. Pollard was planning on performing with his Band of Humans at the Knoxville Museum of Art's "Alive After Five" series on Nov. 4.

Pollard suffered a stroke on Thursday while at the Richmond Waldorf School where he worked as a second grade teacher and went into cardiac arrest onto the way to the hospital. Pollard had answered birthday well-wishers earlier in the day on Facebook. He died at 1:58 p.m. Saturday. Pollard's sister, Marielle Pollard Madden, posted a statement on Facebook on Friday:

"We are preparing to say goodbye. He has suffered several strokes and will not recover. He is surrounded by his family and many dear friends. He is comfortable and not in any pain. Please pray for peace for Phillip Andrew Pollard."

Social media outlets were then filled with well-wishes, tributes and remembrances of Pollard.

In a 2006 News Sentinel interview, Pollard explained his music in the Band of Humans: "We've coined the expression 'litrock.' Our goal is to spread literature and the musical arts to people and remind them of how big a thing it can be spiritually and intellectually."

Steph Gunnoe, who performed with Pollard in the Lonetones, said Pollard was just as beloved as a teacher as he was as a musician.

"Our children were his students (in Knoxville) and he was a huge force for our kids," said Gunnoe. "This is a huge loss for a lot of kids."

In Knoxville, Pollard had taught at the Mountain Song School, a private school that used the Waldorf teaching method, and freshman English at Roane State Community College.

Matt Morelock, who performed with Pollard both in Band of Humans and the Bearded, said Pollard's influence was enormous.

"He was walking enthusiasm. The embodiment of joy. He changed my life forever."

Morelock said Pollard's philosophy in music and life seemed to be about the same:

"Don't take yourself too seriously. Put absurdity in everything."

Sean McCollugh, who performed with Pollard in the Lonetones and before that in Evergreen Street, said most people knew Pollard as a musician, comedian and just a fun guy:

"He was also a great father, a great teacher and a great friend."

Funeral information is pending.

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Comments » 1

friendofphil writes:

A Celebration of Phil’s life will be held Tuesday, Nov 1, at 1 pm at Westover Baptist Church, 1000 Westover Hills Blvd. Richmond, VA. 23225

An education fund has been established for Phil and Dawn’s three children. Those wishing to contribute can send checks made out to Ivan Beltz with POLLARD GIRLS EDUCATION FUND in the memo line. Mail the checks to Ivan Beltz 3528 Navigator Pointe, Knoxville, TN 37922.

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