Percussionist Phil Kraus was born in New York City in 1918. He started studying xylophone at age 8. He won a full scholarship to the Juilliard School at 17. After graduation Phil worked in a radio band at WNEW and then joined the Army duringWorld War II, where he was recruited to play in the band for Irving Berlin's This is the Army, both on Broadway and in the movie version.
After the war, Phil Kraus became an in-demand studio musician, working on television, concerts, and recording sessions in New York. He played themarimba riff in Ben E. King's "Spanish Harlem," the guiro on "Stand by Me," and various percussion instruments for such artists as Billie Holiday, Carol King, and Ray Charles.
Phil Kraus played with groups led by Quincy Jones, Benny Goodman, and Doc Severinson; was in the bands of such TV shows as The Ernie Kovacs Show, The Perry Como Show, The Jackie Gleason Show, The Ed Sullivan Show, and Howdy Doody; and played on the soundtracks of such movies as Midnight Cowboy, Carrie, and The Godfather.
Phil Kraus recorded a few albums under his own name in the 1950s for the Golden Crest label, including The Percussive Phil Kraus and Conflict, both of which include original compositions by Kraus. He teamed with drummer Bobby Rosengarden for an album on the Time label called LikeóBongos. The two went on to record albums for RCA, Decca, and Project 3 during the 1960s. Phil Kraus worked with Dick Hyman and the Living Percussion on The Beat Goes On. He wrote five instructional books, including the three-volume Modern Mallet Method.
In 1978, Phil Kraus moved to Houston, Texas. He worked as personnel manager for the Houston Symphony, taught percussion at Rice University's Shepherd School of Music, and played in the Houston Pops.
Phil Kraus died January 13, 2012 in Houston, Texas. He was 93.