Greg Phillinganes began playing a neighbor's piano by ear at the age of two, beginning lessons a few years later after his mother purchased a piano for him. He was discovered by Stevie Wonder after drummer Ricky Lawson gave Stevie a cassette of instrumental renditions of his own songs done by Phillinganes.
The year 1978 began a three-decade-long involvement with Michael Jackson and The Jacksons for Phillinganes. He contributed to every one of Michael Jackson's solo albums and cites the title track from 1982's Thriller as a classic example of his work.
Amidst his solo recordings and touring with Clapton throughout the 1980s and the early 1990s, Phillinganes became well known as a prominent session musician for a multitude of different artists, performing on many hit albums of the time, working and touring with the likes of Donna Summer, the Bee Gees, Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, and Aretha Franklin. His session work has continued into the present.
Phillinganes won a 2015 Creative Arts Emmy Award for Outstanding Music Direction for his role as musical director for the television special "Stevie Wonder: Songs in The Key Of Life”, and was the music director for the 2016 Grammy Awards.