Phish Welcomes Primus’ Les Claypool & Larry LaLonde, Elvis Impersonators In Las Vegas On Fall Tour 1996
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.
On December 6, 1996, Phish made their debut in Las Vegas by performing a show at The Aladdin Theatre. As is often the case in Sin City, it was a wild night at the Aladdin with Primus bassist Les Claypool and guitarist joining Phish for a nearly 40-minute encore. The shenanigans were punctuated with a squad of Elvis Presley impersonators — including drummer Jon Fishman — getting in on the wild action.
Claypool had sat-in with Phish back in May 1994 but it was LaLonde’s first experience on stage with Phish. Neither has performed with Phish since the Vegas ‘96 collaboration, but Claypool and Phish guitarist Trey Anastasio went on to form Oysterhead in 2001 with Police drummer Stewart Copeland.
More 25 Years Of Phish Fall Tour on JamBase
Back in 2016, JamBase marked the 20th anniversary of the Primus/Phish collaboration and invasion of Elvis impersonators in Las Vegas. A portion of that article, written by Scott Bernstein, is reprinted below:
When Phish fans talk about the best encore in band history the discussion usually includes what went down in Las Vegas on December 6, 1996. The bulk of the 40-minute encore is based around “Harpua,” a song that gives guitarist Trey Anastasio a chance to tell a story. On this night the core band was joined by Primus bassist Les Claypool and guitarist Larry LaLonde for a tale of protagonist Jimmy’s trip to Las Vegas. At one point Les leads the ensemble through his “Wildwood Weed” rap before Anastasio talks up Jimmy and his cat Poster Nutbag’s visit to Sin City. Trey explains that on the way to Vegas Jimmy sets up camp in the middle of the desert and starts yodeling at which point vocalists Heather August and Anamieke Carrozza and pedal steel guitarist John McEuen emerged to perform Patsy Montana’s “I Want To Be A Cowboy’s Sweetheart.” Then, in order for Jimmy to be allowed to enter Las Vegas he had to beat four Elvis Presley impersonators at their own game. Drummer Jon Fishman stepped into the role of Jimmy and came out with a cape to join in with the impersonators on “Suspicious Minds.”
After the outrageous “Suspicious Minds” featuring Jon Fishman and four Elvis impersonators Phish went on to finish “Harpua.” As if the encore wasn’t crazy enough, the quartet, Claypool, LaLonde, the Elvis impersonators and actor Courtney Gains launched into “Suzy Greenberg.” The ensemble worked “Suzy Greenberg” into a “Susie Q” jam after being prompted by one of the Elvis impersonators. In 2007 Phish released a recording of the entire show as well as a bonus DVD as Vegas ’96.
Stream Phish’s official Vegas ’96 release and watch the encore below: