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Phish: The Biography

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Phish rank among the greatest live bands in rock history, and a sizable subculture of Phishheads would argue there's been none better. Formed in Burlington, Vermont, this determined foursome of high-IQ misfits developed their uniquely telepathic chemistry playing that college town's club scene. Vermont's best-kept secret rose to national prominence in the nineties, when th Phish rank among the greatest live bands in rock history, and a sizable subculture of Phishheads would argue there's been none better. Formed in Burlington, Vermont, this determined foursome of high-IQ misfits developed their uniquely telepathic chemistry playing that college town's club scene. Vermont's best-kept secret rose to national prominence in the nineties, when they became the most obvious heirs to the Grateful Dead's legacy as onstage improvisers and touring Pied Pipers. With a raft of self-imposed challenges, Phish mapped out much new territory, as well. Wildly eclectic, endlessly resourceful, and ever unpredictable, Phish were at the forefront of the jam-band movement, an organic alternative to the mainstream status quo that caught the ears and imagination of millions. Drawing upon nearly 15 years of exclusive interviews with the members of Phish and those in their employ, veteran music journalist Parke Puterbaugh delivers an insightful and authoritative biography of this beloved band and their quixotic career. Phish: The Biography thoroughly traces the quartet's history from their formative years to their spectacular success as a prolific touring phenomenon. Puterbaugh examines the colorful chemistry - the unique mix of personalities, backgrounds and talents - that inspired the members of Phish to push their four-way experiment to the limit. He documents their rigorous work ethic, boundless creativity, and all of the resulting innovations, including a series of one-band festivals that served as the blueprint for Bonnaroo and a slew of latter-day rock festivals. Moreover, he details how Phish distilled classical discipline, jazz improvisation, and rock instrumentation and attitude into an intoxicating brew that kept hordes of fans coming back show after show, encouraging them to digest and debate every note and nuance. The book also candidly addresses the bumps in the road that followed Phish's ascent to popularity, as rock's hardest-working band also became one of its hardest-partying entities. Mounting excesses and internal dissent led to a two-year hiatus, a dramatic breakup, and a well-documented drug bust and courageous recovery from addiction for guitarist Trey Anastasio. The tale concludes with Phish's triumphant reunion in 2009, marking one of the greatest comebacks in music history. An intimate and fascinating portrait, Phish: The Biography is the definitive story of these Vermont jamband legends.


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Phish rank among the greatest live bands in rock history, and a sizable subculture of Phishheads would argue there's been none better. Formed in Burlington, Vermont, this determined foursome of high-IQ misfits developed their uniquely telepathic chemistry playing that college town's club scene. Vermont's best-kept secret rose to national prominence in the nineties, when th Phish rank among the greatest live bands in rock history, and a sizable subculture of Phishheads would argue there's been none better. Formed in Burlington, Vermont, this determined foursome of high-IQ misfits developed their uniquely telepathic chemistry playing that college town's club scene. Vermont's best-kept secret rose to national prominence in the nineties, when they became the most obvious heirs to the Grateful Dead's legacy as onstage improvisers and touring Pied Pipers. With a raft of self-imposed challenges, Phish mapped out much new territory, as well. Wildly eclectic, endlessly resourceful, and ever unpredictable, Phish were at the forefront of the jam-band movement, an organic alternative to the mainstream status quo that caught the ears and imagination of millions. Drawing upon nearly 15 years of exclusive interviews with the members of Phish and those in their employ, veteran music journalist Parke Puterbaugh delivers an insightful and authoritative biography of this beloved band and their quixotic career. Phish: The Biography thoroughly traces the quartet's history from their formative years to their spectacular success as a prolific touring phenomenon. Puterbaugh examines the colorful chemistry - the unique mix of personalities, backgrounds and talents - that inspired the members of Phish to push their four-way experiment to the limit. He documents their rigorous work ethic, boundless creativity, and all of the resulting innovations, including a series of one-band festivals that served as the blueprint for Bonnaroo and a slew of latter-day rock festivals. Moreover, he details how Phish distilled classical discipline, jazz improvisation, and rock instrumentation and attitude into an intoxicating brew that kept hordes of fans coming back show after show, encouraging them to digest and debate every note and nuance. The book also candidly addresses the bumps in the road that followed Phish's ascent to popularity, as rock's hardest-working band also became one of its hardest-partying entities. Mounting excesses and internal dissent led to a two-year hiatus, a dramatic breakup, and a well-documented drug bust and courageous recovery from addiction for guitarist Trey Anastasio. The tale concludes with Phish's triumphant reunion in 2009, marking one of the greatest comebacks in music history. An intimate and fascinating portrait, Phish: The Biography is the definitive story of these Vermont jamband legends.

30 review for Phish: The Biography

  1. 5 out of 5

    Todd

    I suppose I shouldn't have expected much from a tell-all biography, but my god Puterbagh's writing leaves much to be desired. Puterbagh had such a wealth of sources available to him that he could have written some truly meaningful analysis of the band, but instead falls into the gossipy traps that fans clamor for; this is especially true when addressing the drug use surrounding the band. The book is definitely written exclusively for the diehard Phan, with Puterbagh casually using Phishisms like I suppose I shouldn't have expected much from a tell-all biography, but my god Puterbagh's writing leaves much to be desired. Puterbagh had such a wealth of sources available to him that he could have written some truly meaningful analysis of the band, but instead falls into the gossipy traps that fans clamor for; this is especially true when addressing the drug use surrounding the band. The book is definitely written exclusively for the diehard Phan, with Puterbagh casually using Phishisms like "cow funk" when describing a jam. Yeah, I know what that is because I've listened to 1997 Phish; but it's hard to view the book objectively when it's littered with stereotypical hippie-speak. The narrative is also filled with these little detours and diversions that really hurt the flow of the book. For example, in the middle of discussing the album Farmhouse, Puterbagh suddenly jumps into a discussion of cover songs, only to return several pages later back to Farmhouse. My last criticism is that he completely passes over the Phish Destroys America tour. Puterbagh does not shy away from his belief that Phish obtained perfection in 1994, and it was ALL downhill after Clifford Ball. As for fall 1997, he pretty much writes it off as being too "ambient" and "trance-like." Perhaps I'm being too hard on Puterbaugh, the book definitely delivers when it comes to providing an insider's account of the band's highs and lows throughout their career; I can't fault him for that. The flaws in the writing itself probably mean, however, that I will not be returning to Phish: The Biography anytime soon.

  2. 4 out of 5

    H R Koelling

    Where do I begin? I saw my first Phish show, on a lark, on May 11, 1989, at a little dive bar called Pauly's Hotel in Albany, NY. I was 18 years old and still in high school. I remember going to school the next day and telling all of my friends about the band I saw the night before. I stumbled from class to class in a daze that day, unable to concentrate, as I kept thinking about what I'd witnessed the night before. I told everyone that Phish will play at the (then known as) Knick Arena in five y Where do I begin? I saw my first Phish show, on a lark, on May 11, 1989, at a little dive bar called Pauly's Hotel in Albany, NY. I was 18 years old and still in high school. I remember going to school the next day and telling all of my friends about the band I saw the night before. I stumbled from class to class in a daze that day, unable to concentrate, as I kept thinking about what I'd witnessed the night before. I told everyone that Phish will play at the (then known as) Knick Arena in five years. But the truth was, I lied: it took them five and a half years to make it to the Knick. I could tell from that very first show, in that very tiny venue, like so many other people who were lucky to catch the Phish bug early on, that these guys had what Duke Ellington called - je ne sais quoi. I have to admit that, although I may be regarded as an early Phish Phan, I certainly also admit that I jumped off the bandwagon when the intimacy of the shows disappeared, which for me meant I attended my last domestic Phish show sometime in the early 90s; except for a trip to the Clifford Ball in 1996. The crowds grew too large, I couldn't get up to the front of the stage to watch Trey's mouth get all googly, and the people in attendance weren't there to listen to the music, they just wanted to party. I did my share of partying, too, but the vibe changed as the crowds grew. The security at the bigger venues was a drag, too. I haven't read any of the other Phish bios or books, so this was a bit of a trip down memory lane for me. And I'm still not sure that Mr. Puterbaugh really spent adequate time writing about their early years, but other Phish bios have probably gone down this road before. Granted, the author wasn't even aware of the band until Phish really started to get famous in the mid-90s, but I wish there was more coverage of the band's early formative years. But I also realize that the story of Phish is really the story of the band AFTER the Clifford Ball. That's when they grew in popularity and that's when things really started to click on a national level. I realized, after reading this book, what drew me to this band and their music, which is what I hope everyone garners from this book: Trey, Mike, Page and John are genuine; they are nice guys; they are intelligent; they work very hard; they are humble; they love what they are doing; and most importantly, they are good friends who really enjoy each others' company. Another important thing I learned from this book is that great music flows from great people. Not only are the individual members of Phish great musicians, but they are also great human beings. Although Trey is portrayed as one of the nicest, but also hardest working people in the music business, he is never portrayed as arrogant, indifferent or at any time a jerk. He is a force of nature, but also a wonderful human being who I feel lucky to have shared some amazing musical moments while growing up in early 90s America. And this also reminds me of what I think is the greatest insight this book had to offer, which can be read in the first Appendix. This contains, what amounts to me, the best encapsulation of what Phish represented back in their heyday. In the author's personal interview with Trey during May 2009 Trey says something to the effect that, "I feel very lucky to have channeled the music that was perfect for the time it was performed." He's right. And that's part of what makes all great music successful. Phish had the right sound and the right attitude at the right time. I'm glad I also grew up at the right time to hear these guys play, and to share in the memorable moments that made this music some of the best of the last decade of the 20th century.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Cliff Hays

    A very well written and researched glimpse into the behind-the-scenes world of Phish. If you are curious as to how four individually awesome musicians were able to find such amazing chemistry together I definitely recommend this one. It is also great in that it chronicles many of their live shows as well as the making of all of their albums (up to 2009).

  4. 5 out of 5

    Brandon Jones

    This book would have been vastly more interesting if it was the first book on the band I'd read and if I hadn't read countless articles about them. I found that it was more of a recounting of things I already knew, which isn't really the author's fault. I do wonder if it was my first foray into the Phish world if I would have left this book fairly confused on the timelines due to Puterbaugh's tendency to jump around in the story a lot. With that said, I did enjoy the book but I enjoy everything This book would have been vastly more interesting if it was the first book on the band I'd read and if I hadn't read countless articles about them. I found that it was more of a recounting of things I already knew, which isn't really the author's fault. I do wonder if it was my first foray into the Phish world if I would have left this book fairly confused on the timelines due to Puterbaugh's tendency to jump around in the story a lot. With that said, I did enjoy the book but I enjoy everything Phish related so that might not be the fairest of reviews.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    Phish: The Biography was a quick, light read, so very enjoyable in that sense- I did, however, find Puterbaugh to be only a mediocre writer, perhaps even scatter-brained in his narrative. On top of that, a lot was left out, as I later learned, as the author likely wanted to preserve the tight friendships he had developed with the band members over the years. Examples: hard drug use was brushed over (save Trey, who was even given a pretty sympathetic treatment); the affair between Page's wife and Phish: The Biography was a quick, light read, so very enjoyable in that sense- I did, however, find Puterbaugh to be only a mediocre writer, perhaps even scatter-brained in his narrative. On top of that, a lot was left out, as I later learned, as the author likely wanted to preserve the tight friendships he had developed with the band members over the years. Examples: hard drug use was brushed over (save Trey, who was even given a pretty sympathetic treatment); the affair between Page's wife and the DryGoods guy (which probably had a lot more to do with the band-office tension than was admitted); excessive blame placed on that tension, as opposed to drug use; and Mike's pedophilia case (which I like to pretend didn't happen anyway, since Mike is the coolest). I can't deny, however, that the book was relatively insightful, and that I learned a lot from it. The insider interviews and detailed stories from the early days were really interesting, and added a lot of perspective to a new(er) fan's attitude toward the band. So ultimately, I can't pan it too much since it gave me a greater appreciation for their career, their inventiveness and ambition, and theit body of music overall. I'd recommend it to a Phan, or maybe someone with an interest in the career arc of a highly important/influential band. Probably not for just casual readers, though

  6. 5 out of 5

    Erin Cataldi

    Definitely an eye opening and informative book. I'll admit that I knew next to nothing about the band's actual history. I've listened to all the studio albums (and many live ones), seen them live once and read JAMerica; which is all I knew about them before I read this. Written for the laymen and the curious this book tracked their beginning, their rise, their breakup and eventual reunion in 2009. Written through the adoring eyes of a fan, it still remains honest and critical about many moments Definitely an eye opening and informative book. I'll admit that I knew next to nothing about the band's actual history. I've listened to all the studio albums (and many live ones), seen them live once and read JAMerica; which is all I knew about them before I read this. Written for the laymen and the curious this book tracked their beginning, their rise, their breakup and eventual reunion in 2009. Written through the adoring eyes of a fan, it still remains honest and critical about many moments in the band's career. Reading this definitely makes me appreciate the creative process behind Phish's songs and makes me like them even more. I'm sad I came on the scene late, but better late than never.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Marc

    Nothing new here, but it's about as well written as anyone is going to do when trying to be poignant or accurate about a complete anomaly. Some new interviews and thoughts on latter year stuff that wasn't overly cheesy. Attempts to present a more global perspective on all of the weird stuff from late 90's and on that led to the ultimate debacle in 2004. Much better than the other bio's out there, but nothing that the typically obsessive fan wouldn't have otherwise seen/thought/heard already. Sti Nothing new here, but it's about as well written as anyone is going to do when trying to be poignant or accurate about a complete anomaly. Some new interviews and thoughts on latter year stuff that wasn't overly cheesy. Attempts to present a more global perspective on all of the weird stuff from late 90's and on that led to the ultimate debacle in 2004. Much better than the other bio's out there, but nothing that the typically obsessive fan wouldn't have otherwise seen/thought/heard already. Still really enjoyable if you love them.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jon

    Although I had some minor complaints, this does give a pretty good overview of Phish from their inception to the return from the second hiatus. There wasn't a whole lot new I learned about the early years, but this did give me more insight into the depressing break-up. Someday a more full tale will be told about Phish, though hopefully not for many more years, until that day this makes for a decent place to go.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Josh Firer

    I was surprised to learn how seriously Phish worked to develop some of their famous techniques. Their ability to improvise as a group came out of dedicated and creative practice. Who knew they actually trained as a barbershop quartet!? I learned more from this book about the group, especially their early years, than I expected to.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Brian Toro

    Must read for any Phish phan, or lover of music! This book takes a great dive into the bands beginnings, peaks and valleys, breakup, and rekindling.

  11. 5 out of 5

    James

    I came late to the party. Last year, I asked the Alexa to play songs by Phish. I don't know why. After a few songs, I thought, "These guys are pretty good." After a few more, I thought, "These guys are very good." A year later, I'm totally hooked, listening to them pretty much all the time, and am hoping to see the for the first time this summer. I only offer that dull lead-in to establish myself as someone who didn't know anything--or not much of anything--about the band before reading this boo I came late to the party. Last year, I asked the Alexa to play songs by Phish. I don't know why. After a few songs, I thought, "These guys are pretty good." After a few more, I thought, "These guys are very good." A year later, I'm totally hooked, listening to them pretty much all the time, and am hoping to see the for the first time this summer. I only offer that dull lead-in to establish myself as someone who didn't know anything--or not much of anything--about the band before reading this book. I imagine that long-time Phisheads will find this old news. For me, it was fine: Puterbaugh tells the origin story and is good with how the financial burdens and hangers-on affected the band, the breakup, and reunion. I never got a great sense of their personalities other than Trey=leader, Fish=wild, Page=quiet, Mike=funny. But it's a fast enough read and did its job. My thoughts are frozen, like everything else.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jason

    Been listening to Phish since 1992 and seen 30+ shows. Found this to be an enjoyable read - mostly anecdotes about the band through the years. Wish it was written 5+ years later to get a better sense of their most recent reincarnation, but that is certainly not the author’s fault. It’s not hard hitting—while the bands drug use and its role in the hiatus break up is addressed, there aren’t a ton of specifics. Fun, easy read.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Dana Fernety

    I confess I like Phish more as a concept than as a band. Reading this book was a way to learn about Phish. It helped a great deal. This is a thorough, straightforward telling of the band’s story. The writing is crisp, though it often reads as a long article in Rolling Stone. This book opens the door to an iconic band.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Court Hansen

    It’s a quick read, but like a lot of music bios written by longtime associates of the band, there’s a little too much superficial praise and just relaying the setlists of particular shows. Still, there are a lot of good direct quotes from the band and their team.

  15. 4 out of 5

    evan

    It does a decent job of telling phish's story, but it really wasn't a great book. The writing was extremely uneven. The author was trying to tell a story in largely chronological order, but pull things from different periods times as they were relevant to a particular theme. Unfortunately, he wasn't very graceful about this, and so his writing was just very choppy and awkward. The story spent a lot of time in the early years of phish and sped up a lot towards the end. This was odd because he beg It does a decent job of telling phish's story, but it really wasn't a great book. The writing was extremely uneven. The author was trying to tell a story in largely chronological order, but pull things from different periods times as they were relevant to a particular theme. Unfortunately, he wasn't very graceful about this, and so his writing was just very choppy and awkward. The story spent a lot of time in the early years of phish and sped up a lot towards the end. This was odd because he began to interivew phish himself around 1995, so from there on, he should have a lot more detail to share from his own account. Instead, he just started skimming through the years. There were also moments of being extremely judgmental in odd ways: completely dissing The Disco Biscuits for a few pages for no good reason, and referring to the 1997-1998 years as being lackluster, even though most people in the phish community regard 1997 as one of the highlight years. Also for all the "scandalous" things he touches on he skims over so much of it that it just seems sort of annoying; "I'll tell you details, but not really". There were things I didn't know, and it got me listening to a lot (too much?) of phish in recent weeks in a way I hadn't in awhile, so that was enjoyable. Reminded me of why I fell in love with them in the first place.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Mat

    Despite having read all there ever was to read abotu this band, this bio did a good job of keeping me netertained while recountingthe early years of the band and even revealing some interesting and new details from the inside about the really early years. The second half of thebook relating to the 1999-2009 was the reeason why i really bought and read this book and it didnt disappoint. The author uses accounts from Phish's close entourage as well as testimonies from the band memebres themselves, Despite having read all there ever was to read abotu this band, this bio did a good job of keeping me netertained while recountingthe early years of the band and even revealing some interesting and new details from the inside about the really early years. The second half of thebook relating to the 1999-2009 was the reeason why i really bought and read this book and it didnt disappoint. The author uses accounts from Phish's close entourage as well as testimonies from the band memebres themselves, either direct or via interviews, to weave a semi-formal account of the dark years that is difficult to refute. Finally enough light is shed onto all these years to dispense with the rash rumors and more or less officialize what really happened and why. Of course, the subjectiveness of the author means he does a good job laying out the circumstances of Phish's downfall ina forgiving way. I would assume that since most readers will be similarly inclined to understand, sympathize and forgive when presented with the case made by Puterbaugh. Would an impartial non-phan? probably too. Thankfully, the fact that the band came abck together so triumphantly in 2009 makes the reading a lot more enjoyable. Had it been published in 2008 it would have been a real bummer :)

  17. 5 out of 5

    Brian Wade

    It seems Phish: The Biography would be better appreciated by an established Phan. Readers looking for a generic introduction to the band and music should look elsewhere. I thought overall Puterbaugh does a great job composing the history of events from birth to fame to hiatus to breakup to 2009+. I would be suprised if even an ardent, die-hard fan read the book and did not learn something new or did not find at least a fresh approach to the band's story. It seems Phish: The Biography is fairly ex It seems Phish: The Biography would be better appreciated by an established Phan. Readers looking for a generic introduction to the band and music should look elsewhere. I thought overall Puterbaugh does a great job composing the history of events from birth to fame to hiatus to breakup to 2009+. I would be suprised if even an ardent, die-hard fan read the book and did not learn something new or did not find at least a fresh approach to the band's story. It seems Phish: The Biography is fairly exhaustive. The details on album development and creation were interesting. I also appreciated the candid interviews from crew and office staff. Don't wait to read this one. If you have any interest, go ahead and pick it up now. Considering Phish's expansive history, perhaps the coolest thing about Puterbaugh's book (at least for now) is that it is an updated account of the band and members including substantial coverage of the breakup and recent reunion.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Bill B

    This is worthwhile read for phans and non-fans...although I'd say that the text is chock full of "inside" speak, jargon, and ideas only familiar to those who are already phish phaithful. Most of this material is well known, not a whole lot of new information is revealed. (There really isn't a whole lot of new material to learn.) However, Puterbaugh does a great job of delivering the story of Phish in a pithy and interesting way. I liked the arrangement of the material, using all the great festiv This is worthwhile read for phans and non-fans...although I'd say that the text is chock full of "inside" speak, jargon, and ideas only familiar to those who are already phish phaithful. Most of this material is well known, not a whole lot of new information is revealed. (There really isn't a whole lot of new material to learn.) However, Puterbaugh does a great job of delivering the story of Phish in a pithy and interesting way. I liked the arrangement of the material, using all the great festival gigs and mileposts and reporting how Phish lost their way in between the Clifford Ball and Coventry. I could have used some more extensive views and commentary from the crew, though. I found their comments to be mere window dressing rather than illuminating. Still, a good read that helped re-stoke my interest in the music of Phish as of late, and get over my bitterness after the Coventry debacle.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mike

    Eh, this is a moderately interesting book whether you're a fan or not. There are some things in this book that I did not know, and I suppose as a fan you wouldn't mind re-learning them, but there are also some factual errors that I was able to spot and correct because I know so much (but which don't ruin the story if you're not a fan). My biggest problem with the book is that it sometimes makes it seem as if certain eras of Phish are not worth listening to, when in fact each fan is going to have Eh, this is a moderately interesting book whether you're a fan or not. There are some things in this book that I did not know, and I suppose as a fan you wouldn't mind re-learning them, but there are also some factual errors that I was able to spot and correct because I know so much (but which don't ruin the story if you're not a fan). My biggest problem with the book is that it sometimes makes it seem as if certain eras of Phish are not worth listening to, when in fact each fan is going to have their own opinion on this matter, and I certainly don't need a book telling me this. It _does_ have a good amount of dirt though (though not as much as I wanted) and that's unusual in an 'authorized' biography. Wait for it in paperback if you have to have it, or better yet just go listen to Phish.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Joel

    Puterbaugh did a good job with one. Some rock bios can be pretty tough to plow through because of (often) subpar writing combined with fanboy adoration., Though Puterbaugh is clearly a fan, he's got the journalistic chops to keep it objective enough to not be overbearing. The only real drawback is that it got a bit repetitive at times toward the end with all of the repeated mentions of the dilemma of what to do with the large office staff. I know that was a huge problem for them, but it kind of Puterbaugh did a good job with one. Some rock bios can be pretty tough to plow through because of (often) subpar writing combined with fanboy adoration., Though Puterbaugh is clearly a fan, he's got the journalistic chops to keep it objective enough to not be overbearing. The only real drawback is that it got a bit repetitive at times toward the end with all of the repeated mentions of the dilemma of what to do with the large office staff. I know that was a huge problem for them, but it kind of went on and on to me. Additionally, it was also kind of cool seeing 7-8 of the shows I actually attended mentioned in the book. That really brought it to life for me. On a personal note, I know that a lot of my friends that I've made over the last few years have no idea that I was such a huge Phish fan in college, so I'm prepared for the crap y'all are going to give me.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jeremy

    Supposed to be an insider's portrait, but the author doesn't seem to understand the inside all that well. The glossing over of the years between 97-2000 will irritate anyone who is familiar with the amazing work the band put out in that time. The best part is the description of the last few years and the insightful interviews with Trey and Brad Sands in the appendix. The book isn't nearly as successful as "the phish book" before it, and as a biography it only really skims the surface, with few a Supposed to be an insider's portrait, but the author doesn't seem to understand the inside all that well. The glossing over of the years between 97-2000 will irritate anyone who is familiar with the amazing work the band put out in that time. The best part is the description of the last few years and the insightful interviews with Trey and Brad Sands in the appendix. The book isn't nearly as successful as "the phish book" before it, and as a biography it only really skims the surface, with few actually new details emerging. There are also quite a few editing and continuity issues. The book was obviously rushed out to coincide with Phish's reemergence, and in fact was delayed a few times.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Stacie

    Covering Phish's career from inception to their 2009 comeback, Parke Puterbaugh tackles the phenomenon that is Phish in this well-written biography. An obvious phan, Puterbaugh still manages to remain objective in this entertaining and thoughtful account. Highlights include glimpses into the band's practice exercises that have led to their ability to cohesively improvise on stage; great interviews with cast and crew; and thoughtful insights into where it all went wrong for one of the most succes Covering Phish's career from inception to their 2009 comeback, Parke Puterbaugh tackles the phenomenon that is Phish in this well-written biography. An obvious phan, Puterbaugh still manages to remain objective in this entertaining and thoughtful account. Highlights include glimpses into the band's practice exercises that have led to their ability to cohesively improvise on stage; great interviews with cast and crew; and thoughtful insights into where it all went wrong for one of the most successful touring bands ever -- and where it all went right. Reading this now, at the end of an incredible year of music (the band sounds better now than they have in years) made this biography even more enjoyable. A must-read for Phish fans; music lovers of all kinds can appreciate too.

  23. 5 out of 5

    David Ward

    Phish: The Biography by Park Puterbaugh (Da Capo Press 2009) (780.92). This is the back story of the Vermont jam band Phish. Other than the stories about the band's frontman and founding member Trey Anastasio, I found this tale to be tedious and uncompelling. The guys in Phish were the first post-Grateful Dead band to pick up the jam-band yoke and run with it. In fact, Trey Anastasio was tapped by the Grateful Dead to fill the lead guitar and lead singer roles vacated by Jerry Garcia's death dur Phish: The Biography by Park Puterbaugh (Da Capo Press 2009) (780.92). This is the back story of the Vermont jam band Phish. Other than the stories about the band's frontman and founding member Trey Anastasio, I found this tale to be tedious and uncompelling. The guys in Phish were the first post-Grateful Dead band to pick up the jam-band yoke and run with it. In fact, Trey Anastasio was tapped by the Grateful Dead to fill the lead guitar and lead singer roles vacated by Jerry Garcia's death during the Dead's “Fare Thee Well” tour in June and July of 2015. He performed to great acclaim according to the Deadheads! My rating: 7/10, finished 7/6/15.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    Sometimes you give a book a high rating "just because" and this is one of those times. Yes, there are a bunch of little factual errors that most fans will spot right away (i.e. Trey's middle name is Guiseppe, not Joseph) and just about any details of their private lives (divorce, etc.) are glossed over. But the details of the hiatus>return>breakup>reunion are pretty revealing and candid. Also good history of the band's early years. Puterbaugh is obviously a fan but his experience as a m Sometimes you give a book a high rating "just because" and this is one of those times. Yes, there are a bunch of little factual errors that most fans will spot right away (i.e. Trey's middle name is Guiseppe, not Joseph) and just about any details of their private lives (divorce, etc.) are glossed over. But the details of the hiatus>return>breakup>reunion are pretty revealing and candid. Also good history of the band's early years. Puterbaugh is obviously a fan but his experience as a music journalist allows him to effectively make the case for Phish as a truly great and important rock and roll band, not just a cult item or novelty.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Paul Spehar

    Learned quite a few new things about the band members and their music. I have been a fan of the Phish for many years, but had not read a book about them since Phishing Manual. I first became aware of this book during Festival 8 where I saw a few copies floating around. I have not been in the practice of reading for many years. I was at the library frustrated that a few of the books I was interested in were not available without a wait. While wandering aimlessly around the stacks, I saw a few cop Learned quite a few new things about the band members and their music. I have been a fan of the Phish for many years, but had not read a book about them since Phishing Manual. I first became aware of this book during Festival 8 where I saw a few copies floating around. I have not been in the practice of reading for many years. I was at the library frustrated that a few of the books I was interested in were not available without a wait. While wandering aimlessly around the stacks, I saw a few copies of this and knew I should grab one. Hopefully I am on a reading role now.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    A piece of work on one of my favorites bands; Puterbaugh has worked on and off with Phish since 95, and this book really reflects a lot of the interviews he conducted. It is divided into several sections, the early shows, growth spurt, the decadent years, and then bad years, before winding up things with reflections on the current reunion of 2009. There is not a lot of new information, but it was an excellent refresher on what makes this band so special. And there are some good interviews and so A piece of work on one of my favorites bands; Puterbaugh has worked on and off with Phish since 95, and this book really reflects a lot of the interviews he conducted. It is divided into several sections, the early shows, growth spurt, the decadent years, and then bad years, before winding up things with reflections on the current reunion of 2009. There is not a lot of new information, but it was an excellent refresher on what makes this band so special. And there are some good interviews and some real honesty about what caused the downward spiral and ultimately the break up. 3.5

  27. 4 out of 5

    Carol

    Puterbaugh did a good job focusing on what I wanted to know - origins of songs, how the band composes, how and why they broke up and got back together. It avoided much detail about the band's personal lives, which sets it apart from most rock biographies. A quick and enlightening read for any Phish fan.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Paul Siegell

    Hey hey, not to be a douche, but... did any of you get to any of these? * 06.25.00 ALLTEL PAVILION, NC: http://bit.ly/7YEG0t * NYE 2003 @ MSG in NYC: http://bit.ly/56w93D * The Afternoon Set of 12.31.99: http://bit.ly/4qtUdj * COVENTRY: http://bit.ly/69cX1K more > http://paulsiegell.blogspot.com

  29. 4 out of 5

    Peacegal

    It’s been said that writing about music is like dancing about architecture, and this metaphor especially applies to the hard-to-pin-down music of Phish. This biography was “ok,” but rather dull. At times, the author gets too “gee whiz” for his own good. He also repeats himself frequently.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Reverenddave

    Disjointed, repetitive completely lacking any pretense of objectivity and offering very little in the way of real insight into its subject despite the author's apparent access, this book was quite a disappointment.

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