The first child of Gaston and Amy, PBK was born on 13th December 1903 at 96 Haliburton Road, Isleworth, London. At the time, his mother and father were living under the name Brown so his birth was registered as Philip Brown. Later, they reverted to the name of Kahn and their first son became known as Philip Brown Kahn. Not long after, the family moved to 146 The Grove, Hammersmith, London.
Philip was only 7 years old when his father died, seven months before Philip’s brother Gaston Bernard was born. He attended the Sacred Heart Convent School followed by the Latymer School in Hammersmith before Amy decided in 1914 that south coast sea air would be more propitious for Philip’s health and the family moved to Weymouth, eventually settling at 4 Cassiobury Road.
As a student at Weymouth Secondary School, PBK excelled at academic studies and music. On leaving school in 1918, he took up an apprenticeship at the Whitehead Torpedo Works, but WW1 ended and the plant closed in 1921 before he could qualify. That was probably what propelled him towards a change of career to allow him to follow his first love – music. His first instrument was the cello, but he was also proficient on the saxophone, clarinet, banjo, violin and bass.
During the 1920s he developed his career as a professional musician. He appeared at a variety of venues in Dorset, including residencies in cinemas and dance halls. In 1927, he spent a while with the Sir Dan Godfrey (founder of the Bournemouth Municipal Orchestra) and his Orchestra in Bournemouth, thereby featuring in some of the first live broadcasts from the 2LO radio station.
By 1930 Philip was based in Southampton with a residency as Musical Director of the popular Bungalow Cafe, where he established the Phil Kahn Bungalow Orchestra. During the dirty 30s, as well as playing at many theatre venues all round the UK, Philip played abroad on Mediterranean and Norwegian cruise ships.
On 9th April 1932, he married Lilian Dora Fuller (born 27 October 1910 – died 14 September 1999) in Southampton and they had three children: Mavis (born 1933), Jennifer (born 1935) and David (born 1944).
During WW2, Philip was drafted in as a universal miller at Weir Precision Ltd by day, while at night he provided entertainment for war-beleaguered southern England. At the end of hostilities, PBK resumed his musical career, becoming a popular bandleader and musical director at the Banister Ballroom and other venues in Southampton and its environs. He became an energetic Secretary of the local branch of the Musician’s Union, looking after the interests of musicians on the many liners operating out of Southampton.
Perhaps because of the demands of the roving musician’s life, his marriage to Dora failed in 1956 and he left Southampton, returning to Weymouth with his new partner, Pianist Joan Perren. After a brief time trying to remain in the dance music business, which was fading away with the advent of rock-and-roll, he invested in a nursing home for old people, where he looked after his mother Amy in her final years until she died in 1960. The nursing home was not a financial sucess and so he sold it and moved to a small home at 4 Clearmount Road, Weymouth.
He then proceeded to live a very active and healthy old age, taking occasional jobs to augment his income. He gave up smoking and swam frequently. He became an active supporter of the campaign to recover from the army the beautiful cliff-top ranges around Tyneham. He kept in close touch with all the family and in 1982 visited his son David in Canada. His health began to fail around 1990 and he died of prostate cancer on 2nd March 1992 aged 88. Both Joan and Lilian attended the funeral, which passed entirely amicably. Joan died in 2001.