‘American Idol’ winner Phillip Phillips wants to blaze his own trail
By Cindy PearLman July 5, 2012 8:56PM
Phillip Phillips, John Fogerty
American idol lIve!
When: 7 p.m. Saturday
Where: Allstate Arena, 6920 N. Mannheim Rd., Rosemont
Info: (800) 745-3000; www.ticketmaster.com
Updated: August 7, 2012 6:17AM
As he nears a tour stop at the Allstate Arena on Saturday, “American Idol” winner Phillip Phillips is thinking ahead.
“Ma’am, can I ask you a question?” he poses. “Where do you think I could get some really great pizza in Chicago? I’d appreciate any advice.”
Pizza! Phillips just got a clean bill of health from his docs after kidney problems. Should deep dish really be in his future?
“I have never been to Chicago before and I have to have pizza. I can eat pizza. I haven’t gotten any tests back saying that I can’t have pizza,” insists the 21-year-old, calling from the bus hauling the top 10 singers from the 2011 season.
That Phillips is on tour is impressive. After his audition, he found out that he had two large kidney stones and had to endure excruciating pain and seven medical procedures while on the show. This culminated in a five-hour surgery June 7 to get rid of other stones and fix the damage.
The Georgia native says, “I’m doing pretty good. They say I’m fixed now. I’m just trying not to push too hard. I take it easy and save it all for the stage.”
How did he compete on “Idol” in that condition?
“Yeah, I was in pain every week. I had to save up my energy for the performance night,” he says. “But I had great doctors who helped me through it.”
Did he ever think of quitting the competition? “There were a couple of times I thought I’d have to quit. It hurt that much. I’d be lying if I didn’t say it got pretty bad.
“I’m just glad I didn’t quit.”
When he won “Idol,” Phillips was so overwhelmed with emotion, he couldn’t sing his final song.
He burst into tears and ran offstage to hug his folks. “I honestly didn’t expect to win. I never took any of it for granted. Each week, I thought I would be the one voted off,” he says.
“There were a couple of times when I really thought I should have been in the bottom three, but the fans came through for me. Winning caught me off guard, and that night it hit me how far I had come.”
Phillips hasn’t been home since his victory. “I’d like to go home for a couple of days,” he says, “and have my dad ask me to take out the trash.”
For now, it’s time for him to see the world. “I’ve only been to Tennessee and North and South Carolina. I have no idea where to go in Chicago. Maybe you could help me out?”
Already fans are mobbing him. “People just rush up. It’s fun. They just want a picture.
“Hey, I would go up to someone. I saw Robin Williams in a hotel when we were down to the top three on ‘Idol,’ ” he recalls in an excited voice, “and I said, ‘Shoot, I gotta get a picture with him.’ I ran up and Robin Williams said yes.”
In his spare time, he’s working on his CD that will be out in November or December. “It’s going pretty good with my album. It’s rock, jazz and acoustic stuff.
“I’m trying to write music and rest when I can. I also want to get out and check out a few places when I’m on the road.”
With a sigh, he adds, “It’s all kind of crazy how your life just changes on a dime.”
His musical role model? So far ... nobody.
“I just want to have a career that’s like … my own thing,” he says with a laugh. “I’m not trying to win Grammys. I just want to make enough money to make a living as a singer and have a family in the future.”
Will he ever become a pompous rock star demanding only green M&Ms in his dressing room?
Phillips laughs. “My family won’t allow me to be that way.
“You know, ma’am, as long as I’m able to play music in front of people for a living, well, that’s enough rock star life for me.”
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