1983: Inception - Trey, majoring in philosophy, Fish, studying chemical engineering, & Mike, with a major in electrical engineering, are freshmen at the University of Vermont; Jeff Holdsworth, also an EE major, is a sophomore there. Trey hears Fish playing his drumkit from outside his dorm-room door. He also walks by Jeff's room and hears Jeff's '57 Les Paul (guitar). The three of them get together and Trey posts a sign: bass player needed. Mike answers the sign; they get together for a jam session, and Mike says, "Did I make it?" They practice in the dorm lounge and make a demo tape. They play their first gig as "Blackwood Convention" in the basement of a conservative dorm. They use a hockey stick as a mic stand, play "Proud Mary" twice, "Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress" once, and eventually are shut down so that a Michael Jackson tape can be played.
1984: Trey takes the second semester off and records "Bivouac Jaun" in his basement; many cuts of this 4-track project mixed with Mike's 4-track tapes and a few 4-track-in-the-bedroom tracks by the band end up on Phish's first studio project known as "The White Phish Tape". The first official gig as Phish is played in the basement of Slade Hall at UVM in October 1984 (many later gigs were also played there); their friend Anne Labruciano mixes 6 tracks of stereo sound, playing sound effects through 6 hidden speakers along with the music. Phish's first bar gig is upstairs at Nectar's in December. The Dude of Life appears; also Daubs (Marc Daubert) is the band's full time percussion player -- he co-wrote "The Curtain" (which used to have more words) with Trey.
1985: Mike's hall-mate Brian Long hooks Mike up with Goddard College people to play Goddard Springfest. Page, at Goddard, is the organizer. Brian becomes first fan of band, dancing alone while Phish plays Thursday nights at Doolins (a frat bar) for happy hour. Amy Skelton joins Brian at Doolins. Page and Phish like each others' playing at Springfest (Page has an R&B band). Page comes for a gig with Phish at the Wilks/Davis/Wing dorm barbecue on May 3rd, and he also joins the band in Burlington's North End for practices crammed into Fish's bedroom; the room is so small that the bed must be taken out during practice. Trey, Fish and two friends of Trey's from home go to Europe and play in the streets with a mini guitar made by Paul Languedoc (then at Time Guitars) and percussion during the summer. While in Europe, Trey writes You Enjoy Myself, Dog Log, the music to Harry Hood, and other songs. Page moves to Burlington from Goddard; he and Mike share an apartment. Trey and Fish call Mike from Europe to encourage Mike to come, and to emphasize that Page should not join the band ("We don't want keyboards, Phish is a two guitar band"). Mike stays in Burlington, and teaches Page early songs: McGrupp, Fluffhead, Slave, etc. Page feels confident that he will be in the band.In the fall, Page joins the band. Mike, Page, Fish and Brian Long live in a red house next to the Harry Hood milk factory. Brian writes the words to "Harry Hood" (Mr. A. Minor, a previous tenant, receives letters saying, "Thank you, Mr. Minor). In November the band plays in the Goddard cafeteria and Mike has a peak religious experience.
1986: With Zenzile, a South African revolutionary, the band plays at Hunt's (a local club). Zenzile yells rhetorical poetry. Jeff quits the band. He graduates soon after, travels for two years, and eventually becomes a born again Christian following Jimmy Swaggart. The band continues to do more gigs at Nectar's and other bars. Mike changes his major from Electrical Engineering to Filmmaking & Communications. Trey and Fish transfer to Goddard College (Page makes $50 for recruiting each of them). On October 15th, Paul does the band's sound for the first time, at Hunt's; 169 people attend. 1987: Mike graduates. Trey and Marley live in a cabin with no electricity and no running water for the summer, and Trey writes "Fee" as well as a second section to "The Curtain" (called "The Curtain With") which eventually becomes Rift. Trey continues to work with his mentor/composing teacher Ernie Stires, getting academic credit through Goddard, writing fugues and big band arrangements ("Flat Fee") which end up in Phish songs.
1988: The first Oh Kee Pah Ceremony takes place in the spring. In August, Phish is promised a two week tour booked by club owner Warren Stickney. Though Warren never calls back, the band drives from Vermont to Telluride, Colorado, to play in Warren's bar. Junta is recorded in Boston and sold at shows as a tape.
1989: Chris Kuroda begins working for the band in March of this year. In April, Phish participated in the Rock & Roll Rumble at the Front. Fish lowered himself, naked, from the rafters, to begin his vaccuum solo, but it wasn't plugged in. In August, the second Oh Kee Pah Ceremony occurs (source of Union Federal). For their first show at the Paradise in Boston, the venue is rented by the band since the club didn't feel they'd do well enough to book them for a show. Many friends come from Burlington by bus. 650 people sell out the club, with 200 more outside. Also this year, the band embarks on their first mini-tour into the southeast. Lawn Boy is recorded at Dan Archer's studio in Winooski, Vermont (with some free recording time from winning that Rock & Roll Rumble) and released on Absolute A-Go-Go (an independent label distributed by Rough Trade). At the end of December, New Year's Eve is observed at the World Trade Center in Boston.
1990: In February, the band embarks on their first tour to the south. Later in the spring, Phish tours Colorado, returning to play the Strand Theatre in Boston at the end of April, and continuing with three more weeks of shows in the northeast and a trip through the south before taking some time off to practice and write songs. (Before the fall, soundboard audio-taping patches are discontinued due to essential equipment having been unplugged by tapers attempting to tap in.) Lawn Boy is released in September, and the band tours some more through the Fall. Late in the year, the Phish.Net, an Internet-based alliance of Phish fans, begins to coalesce.
1991: There are no shows in January, but from the beginning of February through May, Phish tours in the northeast, southeast (including a few shows with the Aquarium Rescue Unit), Colorado, the west coast, the midwest, and in the northeast again.The remainder of May and June are spent recording at White Crow Studios in Burlington. The band adds a horn section, "The Giant Country Horns" (Carl Gerhard, Dave Grippo, and Russell Remington), for a jaunt in July, and occasionally thereafter. Toward the end of the summer, the band spends a couple weeks at White Crow recording with the Dude of Life. Amy's Farm is a successful free outdoor show at Amy Skelton's horse farm in Auburn, Maine, in early August. During the remainder of August Phish goes back into the studio to mix the new material. Rough Trade goes out of business and Lawn Boy (temporarily) goes out of print. Elektra signs the band in late November; most of the time from mid-September through the end of the year is spent touring.
1992: New Year's is held at the Auditorium in Worcester, Massachusetts. A Picture of Nectar is released on February 18th by Elektra, and Phish begins a national tour in March, including dates in the Pacific Northwest in late April, the upper midwest in early May and the northeast in mid-May, wrapping up at the Flynn Theatre in Burlington. After one month off, in June and July the band tours in Europe, opening for Violent Femmes; they then continue July with four shows on the first HORDE tour, and from the end of July into August they play at large outdoor amphitheatres supporting Santana. Elektra re-releases Lawn Boy on June 29th and Junta in late summer. In September and October Phish goes back into the studio to record Rift with Barry Beckett (the first time they've worked with a producer). There is additional touring following this through November and into December of this year.
1993: The New Year is ushered in at Matthews Arena in Boston. On February 2nd Rift is released, and Phish tour throughout the country from February into May. After a couple months of practicing and writing, the band hits the road again between mid-July and late August. To accommodate audience recording, designated taping areas begin to be created directly behind the soundboard and tapers' tickets are made available via mail-order. The Phish Newsletter becomes the DÃ¶niac Schvice (for obvious reasons). Phish spends the fall recording Hoist in Los Angeles (including guests Bela Fleck, Allison Krauss, the Tower of Power horn section and Jonathan Frakes); the band winds up the year in December with a short holiday tour culminating in the New Year's Eve concert at the Centrum in Worcester, featuring a giant clam.
1994: Hoist is released on March 29th, and Mike directs a video for the single track "Down with Disease" (this is Phish's only studio-style video). Mike also directs and edits a documentary of the process of recording Hoist, entitled Tracking. In April the band embarks on a national tour, continuing through mid-July. The G-Crew (short for the Green Crew), a volunteer coalition of Phish fans dedicated to minimizing the environmental impact of the crowds coming to shows, becomes a welcome presence in the parking lots. (If you want to find them, check at the WaterWheel table.) Crimes of the Mind, the album recorded with the Dude of Life back in 1991, is released on October 25th. In the fall Phish tour again; the "musical costume" tradition is established when the band solicits input from the fans and as a result plays the Beatles' White Album in its entirety as the second set of their three-set Halloween concert in Glens Falls, New York (concluding some time after 2 am). The tour continues through November to the end of the year, and is captured throughout on multi-track recording in preparation for the upcoming live album.
1995: Phish greets the New Year at the Boston Garden with assistance from Mike's grandmother as well as a giant hot-dog in which they fly, playing, across the Garden to the "cheap seats". "A Live One" (double CD recorded live, the Clifford Ball, 1994) is released on June 27th and the band goes back on the road in June and July; mail-order tickets now become available for regular seats as well as tapers. The fall tour commences in September on the west coast and the Halloween tradition continues with a performance by popular request of the Who's Quadrophenia at the Rosemont Horizon in Chicago.
1996: Fish is transformed into the baby New Year by a mad scientist at Madison Square Garden. The band goes into the studio in late February and begins recording a self-produced Blob of music. At the end of March they take a month off and appear at JazzFest in New Orleans on April 26th. They then return to the studio and can the Blob (except for two mintues); Steve
Lillywhite joins them in the studio to produce the album. The official Phish web site is launched on July 1st. At the beginning of July the band heads to Europe, playing some shows with Santana and others on their own, and in August they return to the US for 11 shows culminating with the Clifford Ball, a festival dedicated to the legendary aviator. The album Billy Breathes is released on October 15th and the band begins a 35 show US tour beginning in the east and including a stop at The Omni in Atlanta for the traditional Halloween concert. This year's "musical costume" is the band's choice: The Talking Heads' "Remain in Light". The band welcomes special guest percussionist Karl Perazzo for four shows, and the fall tour wraps up at the Aladdin Theatre in Las Vegas with yodelers and multiple Elvi.
1997: The band ushers in the new year at Boston's Fleet Center amidst a sea of falling balloons. In February and March, they return to Europe and to intimate clubs and theatres to play 14 headline shows. On March 18, Phish joins Ben and Jerry on Ben's birthday for a show at the Flynn Theatre in Burlington to benefit Lake Champlain cleanup and to celebrate the release of Ben and Jerry's new flavor, Phish Food. The band ventures again to Europe in June and July, for another 18 headline shows and outdoor festivals, with plans to follow up with a 19-show US tour in July and August. The US summer tour culminates with The Great Went, a multi-day event in Limestone, Maine attended by over 62,000.Phish's next album, Slip Stitch & Pass (a selection of songs from their March 1st performance in Hamburg, Germany) is released on October 28th. Fall tour begins November 13th in Las Vegas and concludes December 13th in Albany; on this tour, the Waterwheel Foundation, which was created to administer the proceeds from Phish Food (ice cream) for Lake Champlain cleanup, takes over the project of tabling at shows with information on environmental and social issues from Greenpeace, who ceased to do this sort of work. To complete the year the band plays a show in the DC area and then three at Madison Square Garden.
1998: Jon Fishman tours with Pork Tornado and Jazz Mandolin Project in January and February; in the meantime, Trey and Tom get together to write songs, which the band learns during practice time at the end
of March. In the following week the band hits the road for the short, spontaneous "Island Tour" (Long Island and Rhode Island), then returns north to go into the studio to record what will become The Story of the Ghost in late April. They stay there until early June - then at the end of the month, they head to Europe for a combination of solo shows and festival appearances in Denmark, Finland, the Czech Republic, and Spain. As soon as they get back to the US the summer tour begins in Portland, Oregon, and continues through the remainder of July into mid-August, winding up in Limestone, Maine with Lemonwheel. After a short break during September, the band participates in several special events in October, including the Farm Aid benefit in Chicago with Willie Nelson and Neil Young, and the Bridge School benefit with Neil as well. While in the Bay Area for that event, they also play an intimate solo show at the Fillmore Auditorium.
Prior to commencing the fall tour at the end of the month, the band appears on Sessions at West 54th (on PBS) as well as on the Late Show with David Letterman. After beginning at the Greek Theatre in LA, the tour proceeds to Las Vegas for Halloween at the Thomas and Mack Center and then continues back through the midwest to the east coast, culminating in a Thanksgiving run at the Worcester Centrum. Again, the band finishes the year with multiple nights - four this time - at Madison Square Garden.
1999: The early months of the year provide an opportunity to slow down a bit, and to engage again in solo pursuits, such as Trey's first appearance at the annual Tibet House benefit at Carnegie Hall in February. The intermittantly ubiquitous Pork Tornado appears in New England and southwards in April, and Page and Trey appear with Phil Lesh and other friends at the Warfield. In May, the Trey Anastasio Acoustic & Electric
band tours in the midwest and northeast. Practice time is scheduled for late June in preparation for Phish's summer tour which begins on the last day of the month. After passing through the south (with the fourth of July in Atlanta), the tour heads up the east coast, pausing in Volney, New York for the Oswego Airport Campout, then proceeds to Deer Creek by the end of the month. From there, the band and crew head directly to Japan for the Fuji Rock Festival. August passes by quickly, and by the second week in September, the fall tour is commencing on the west coast, followed by a swing to the south then up through the midwest to wrap up the first leg in New York (Nassau and Albany). Following a break in November, the tour resumes in the northeast for the first half of December. On the 30th and 31st, the band and audience celebrate New Year's
1999-2000 at the Big Cypress Seminole Indian Reservation in southern Florida (the largest paid concert event in the world that night) with an experience that stretches uninterrupted from midnight until dawn.