Since winning Season 11 of American Idol last May, Georgia boy Phillip Phillips traded in a 9 to 5 at his family's pawn shop for playing sold-out gigs. As if you needed another reason to love this twangy cutie, we dug up 15 endearing facts about Phillips.
While past winners of American Idol have attempted to sing while choking back tears, Phillips opted to just give into his emotion. "I didn't really want to sing or anything," he told Digital Spy. "I was just so shocked, and I started thinking about the whole Top 12 and started thinking about how far I'd come. It was just so crazy and just amazing... it got me a little emotional."
He has excellent taste in music
Not only does Phillips create and make amazing music, but the Georgia native also boasts — in our opinion — some pretty phenomenal favorite musicians. If you watched his season of Idol, you know he's a huge Dave Matthews fan, but he actually cites Jonny Lang as his favorite singer. He also admires John Butler, Damien Rice, Mumford & Sons, Lynyrd Skynyrd and Tool.
He's just a good ol' Southern boy at heart
Following the major success of his first single, "Home," everyone wanted to know what it was that Phillips missed the most about his own home while on tour. And, as with any good ol' Southern boy, food was the answer. "I miss my mom's home cookin'," he told Omg!. "Some chicken and dumplings, chicken potpie, cube steak. Oh, meatloaf."
He watched Idol before he was on it
When all is said and done, we owe Season 10 American Idol contestant Casey Abrams a big thanks for bringing us Phillip Phillips. "He's a very good jazz player, and played stand-up bass on the show," Phillips said of Abrams to Broadway World. "He brought something different so that gave me the idea to try out."
He's got some wild stories
We would've loved to have been a fly on the wall for some of Phillips' escapades in his youth. Admitting to Us Weekly that he "got away with quite a bit" when he was in high school, Phillips fondly recalls a favorite pastime. "It's nice to go skinny-dipping, but it is not good when you're just by yourself. But I've gone skinny-dipping with other people before. There have been a lot of things [I've done] I can't even think of!"
He doesn't let bum kidneys keep him down
After Phillips' Top 13 performance on Idol, his noticeable absence resulted in Ryan Seacrest explaining to the audience that the talented young singer was rushed to a doctor for emergency care involving kidney stones. Phillips, who had eight related medical procedures while on the show, later divulged that he suffers from a congenital kidney condition.
He earned a shout-out from Dave Matthews
Phillips' Idol performances — including his cover of Dave Matthews Band's " The Stone" — frequently drew comparisons to one of his idols, Dave Matthews. When Matthews was asked how he felt about the "imitation," he responded, "More power to him; I don't mind. He should kick my a**, [then] maybe I can retire and he can take over my band."
As heartbreaking as it is for young, single fans to hear Phillips is dating nursing student Hannah Blackwell, they should take solace in the knowledge she's a genuinely nice girl — the two met in 2010 when they were both volunteering at a women's and children's shelter. Aww!
He gives credit where credit is due
When it comes to keeping his ego in check, Phillips fully discloses that it's the love (and candor!) of his friends and family that helps him stay grounded. "You gotta be kind to people," he told Crave Online. "That's how I grew up, and I have too many people — friends and family — that would probably kick my butt if I tried to get cocky or anything."
His second single is as addictive as his first
"Gone Gone Gone," Phillips' follow-up to "Home," was released in February and we still can't stop singing its praises — nor can critics. As stated by Simon Cleary of musicinsideu.com in our favorite review, "Not many people still dare to believe this kind of love exists anymore. Even fewer believe it's possible for them to live true love. Phillips' got the courage to believe, and to live, and to love."
He still gets stage fright
You'd think at this point, this small-town boy turned big success would be used to playing in front of sold-out crowds. He contends, however, that he fights off jitters every time he sets foot on a stage. "I get scared to death playing in front of an audience, because you never know how it's going to go," he admitted to Grammy.com.
With his first single, "Home," being such a smashing hit, Phillips could easily float along accepting accolades and never mentioning one big, rarely mentioned truth: he didn't write it. "I wanted to do my own songs that I'd written, but with the short amount of time and recording live and everything, I went with it," he said in an interview with Baeble Music. "It was a good song — not something I would really write, but it's a good song by a good writer."
He's still essentially the same dude
Remember on Idol when the judges would give Phillips a hard time about his raggedy old T-shirts and tennis shoes? He's still proud he didn't give in to the pressure. "It's really good to just not let people try to change you," he's said. "It gets tough with a lot of people coming [your] way, telling you what you should do and shouldn't do. But you know yourself better than anyone else, so you know what's best for you. I'm quite proud of how I stuck to my guns."
He gets along with his brother-in-law
Some people rant and rave about their in-laws in a bad way, but Phillips rants and raves about his brother-in-law in the best possible way. Ben Neil started dating Phillips' sister when Phillips was only 12 or 13 years old, and is the person responsible for teaching Phillips how to play the guitar. "He's my biggest inspiration playing music," Phillips told Broadway World.
He's kind of a nerd boy
So, he's clearly got that oh-so-cute, aww-shucks dorkiness about him. And, as it turns out, he really is one of those guys who appreciates nerdy things like quantum mechanics and thermodynamics — he graduated from Albany Technical College with a major in Industrial Technology.