Phish Performs ‘Bill Bailey’ With Dr. Jack McConnell On Fall Tour 2010

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This year marks 25 years since Phish’s historic Fall Tour 1995. In recognition of that noteworthy tour and to make up for the lack of shows this fall, JamBase presents a daily retrospective highlighting a noteworthy moment from a Phish fall tour concert that took place on that date over the past 25 years. The 25 Years Of Phish Fall Tour series runs each day between the start of Phish Fall Tour 1995 on September 27 through that tour’s finale on December 17.

Phish held a concert in Austin, Texas on October 15, 1995 (between two shows that featured Medeski, Martin & Wood sit-ins) and an unannounced show occurred on October 15, 1998 at the intimate Fillmore in San Francisco. The band has twice hosted concerts on October 15 at North Charleston Coliseum in North Charleston, South Carolina, first in 2010 and again in 2016.

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It is their show on October 15, 2010 that was selected for today’s 25 Years Of Phish Fall Tour entry. That performance featured keyboardist Page McConnell’s father, Dr. Jack McConnell, joining the band on stage for the penultimate time out of several appearances dating back to 1993.

Dr. McConnell had just turned 93-years-old when he died on February 6, 2018 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. McConnell’s distinguished career in medicine included directing the development of Tylenol at McNeil Laboratories, as well as Johnson & Johnson’s program for the first commercial MRI in the United States. Dr. McConnell also assisted lawmakers in drafting the bill authorizing the Human Genome Project.

After retiring to Hilton Head, South Carolina after decades residing in Basking Ridge, New Jersey, Dr. McConnnell founded the Volunteers in Medicine Clinic, “Serving the health and wellness needs of the medically underserved living or working on Hilton Head and Daufuskie Islands. “ Dr. McConnell also established the Volunteers in Medicine Institute, which has “guided and supported more than 100 communities around the country in starting similar clinics.”

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When Dr. McConnell passed away, Phish posted a note in his memory that read:

Dr. Jack McConnell (1925-2018). The world has lost a brilliant physician, a talented entertainer, a noted philanthropist, loving family man and an all-around great guy.

Jack performed with the band on multiple occasions, always featuring his signature song “Bill Bailey, Won’t You Please Come Home?”. You can watch his last (and what he considered his finest) performance with Phish from 2010 in N. Charleston [below]. He loved meeting and interacting with all the fans and singing with the band was one of the great joys of his life.

Contributions in his memory can be directed to volunteersinmedicine.org, an organization he started that helps provide health care to underserved populations all across the country.

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As the note mentioned, Dr. McConnell’s guest spot on October 15, 2010 was his last performance with band, but he appeared onstage with the group once more on Father’s Day 2011 — along with the fathers of the other three band members — portraying the role of Jimmy’s dad during “Harpua.”

The note also mentioned that the Fall 2010 guest spot, not far from where he relocated, was what Dr. McConnell considered his “finest performance” of “Bill Bailey, Won’t You Please Come Home?” which he covered with Phish a total of six times. The song is a traditional Dixieland jazz standard composed by Hughie Cannon and originally published in 1902. Not only did Dr. McConnell handle lead vocals, the Phish dad showed off his tap-dancing skills to the adoring North Charleston audience.

Guitarist Trey Anastasio introduced Dr. McConnell before his 2010 guest spot. Trey brought the at-the-time 85-year-old Dr. McConnell to the stage by stating:

We’re gonna bring somebody out now, just showing our family connection to the area here. We’re going to bring out a special South Carolina native, an incredible musician. We like to think of him as the world’s greatest tap dancer. He happens to live right nearby here. He also happens to be Page’s dad. Let’s hear it for Jack McConnell!

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Watch Dr. McConnell’s final performance of “Bill Bailey, Won’t You Please Come Home?” Phish’s October 15 Fall Tour 2010 stop in North Charleston, South Carolina:

JamBase Live Video Archive
JamBase Live Video Archive