Phish emerged in 1983 from the wreckage of several Vermont college bands. The improvisational quartet was co-founded by music composition student Trey Anastasio, whose senior thesis, an elaborate song cycle entitled “The Man Who Stepped Into Yesterday,” became the core of Phish’s early repertoire. Uniquely combining a fondness for bluegrass, barbershop quartets, progressive rock’s big gestures, and the open-ended jamming of groups like The Grateful Dead and Quicksilver Messenger Service, Phish built a passionate following in New England, releasing their self-distributed cassette-only album, Junta, in 1988. Their small indie label folded shortly after the release of their second album, Lawn Boy, and Elektra seized the moment, reissuing their previous albums along with their RIAA gold-certified label debut, A Picture Of Nectar, in early 1992.
With committed major label backing, Phish ventured outside their New England stronghold and soon developed America’s most devoted fanbase, a loyal legion of fervent “Phishheads,” spellbound by the band’s inimitable blend of psychedelia, blues, jazz, country, funk, and whatever else might strike their fancy.
Despite little mainstream radio airplay, Phish unfurled a long string of gold-and-platinum-certified albums, including 2000’s Farmhouse, which included the band’s one-and-only “hit” single, “Heavy Things.” Phish’s journey culminated with 2004’s Undermind, after which the cult quartet called it quits “forever” with an emotional summer festival in Coventry, Vermont. However, Phish had a change of heart and returned to recording and touring together in 2009, now with no end in sight.