Phish Brings Out Dude Of Life In New Haven On Fall Tour 1998
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 (read a note on Fall 1997 here). 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 and The Dude of Life (Steve Pollak) have a long history that predates the formation of the band in 1983. Pollak and Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio were high school classmates at The Taft School in Watertown, Connecticut and for one semester at the University Of Vermont. While attending Taft, Trey and The Dude were members of the band Space Antelope whose repertoire included the original “Run Like A Space Antelope” with lyrics by Tom Marshall that later evolved (dropping the “Space”) into one of Phish’s earliest and most played songs.
More 25 Years Of Phish Fall Tour on JamBase
The Dude Of Life wrote or co-wrote several other Phish classics like “Suzy Greenberg,” “Dinner & Movie,” “Slave to the Traffic Light” and “Fluffhead.” Phish backed The Dude on his 1994 album, Crimes Of The Mind, and Trey, drummer Jon Fishman and bassist Mike Gordon contributed to its 1999 follow-up Under the Sound Umbrella.
The Dude first sat-in with Phish on December 1, 1984, at their first concert at Nectar’s in Burlington, Vermont. He continued fronting the band, typically on Crimes Of The Mind, through the mid-1990s. But by the time Phish was on their Fall Tour 1998, it had been four years since The Dude Of Life guested with the group.
In the 1999 Phish Book by Richard Gehr and the band, both Trey and keyboardist shared thoughts on performing with The Dude Of Life:
Trey: After we collaborated at UVM, he transferred to SUNY Purchase in New York. Down there he wrote all these great songs that ended up on Crimes Of The Mind. The coolest thing about Crimes was the pressure was off us; it wasn’t a Phish album. It was arranged and recorded quickly, and it still sounds fresh to me. I love the buildup in “TV Show,” the outro to “Swiss Miss Girl,” and some of our weird crossing harmonies. Sometimes I think we would have been a great backup band, because we don’t have a real front person. Really, it’s just incredible playing with Steve. He’s a natural-born entertainer and one of the funniest and most genuine people I’ve ever met.
Page: This guy came out wearing a gas mask and running around like a wild man the first time we played Johnson State College. It was the Dude of Life, who I’d heard about for ages but had never met. He sang “Suzy Greenberg” and it was great. He’s a talented and funny guy, with a knack for writing catchy songs, but most of the times we’ve played with him it hasn’t worked that well for me. It’s like seeing another act in the middle of our show. When he gets onstage, he wants to be completely out front, working the crowd, which comes naturally to him. He’s a friend of Trey’s, though, so the last time he wanted to play with us I ended up making the dreaded “call from Page” you don’t want to get when you’re in the Phish organization. I’m not that hard a guy. I just don’t have a problem doing what’s best for the band.
The Johnson State College show was on February 13, 1987, and featured The Dude leading the band on “Sanity,” “Fluffhead,” “Harry Hood” and the first known public performance of “Suzy Greenberg.”
Page’s feelings toward The Dude may have evolved between talking to Gehr and Phish’s Fall Tour 1998 as they brought out their old cohort during the encore on November 24 at New Haven Veterans Memorial Coliseum in New Haven, Connecticut. The Dude sang lead on “Suzy Greenberg,” belting out alternate lyrics to the song he wrote about a college classmate. He stuck around for “Tweezer Reprise” once again amending the words usually sung.
The Dude was part of Phish’s 30th anniversary run in November 2003. His most recent sit-in with Phish came in July 2012.
Watch The Dude Of Life and Phish performing “Suzy Greenberg” and “Tweezer Reprise” on November 24, 1998 below: