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Phish: The Biography Paperback – October 26, 2010


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Phish: The Biography + The Phish Companion: A Guide to the Band and their Music + This Has All Been Wonderful: A Travel Monologue From Summer 1994: The Year Phish Became Phish
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Da Capo Press; First Trade Paper Edition edition (October 26, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306819201
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306819209
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #32,189 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In the wake of Phish's wildly successful summer reunion tour, journalist and Rolling Stone contributor Puterbaugh delivers a consistently lucid and revelatory look at the 26-year-long career of the legendary jam band. Puterbaugh's solid and intelligent take on how Phish blends both seriousness and whimsy into rock, jazz, funk, country and experimental music (sometimes in the same song) will satisfy newcomers as well as the band's obsessively knowledgeable fans. In the process, Puterbaugh definitely demolishes the media's reflexively drawn comparisons of Phish to the Grateful Dead just because both played long improvisational concerts for hardcore fans. Much of the book's success stems from Puterbaugh's experience as in-house PR writer for the band from 1995 until its 2004 breakup. His insider access allows him to get never-before-published comments and insights from the band, its management, archivists, crew and close friends. His solid reporting produces the best account so far of Phish's college-era birth and growth in Burlington, Vt. And his exclusive interview with Trey Anastasio provides a frank look at how the guitarist's drug addiction brought down the band, how his recovery led to their reunion and why there's no reason that Phish couldn't go on for quite some time. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Publishers Weekly
“A consistently lucid and revelatory look” at the band, and complimenting “Puterbaugh’s solid and intelligent take” that “will satisfy newcomers as well as the band’s obsessively knowledgeable fans.”

Kirkus
“An even-keeled evaluation of an important American band—a must for Phishheads.”

Booklist Online
“Puterbaugh serves up everything one could want to know about jam-band supreme Phish…Valuable enough as a comprehensive Phish file, this book is greatly enhanced by Puterbaugh’s depth of knowledge.”

Relix
“What sets [the book] apart are rare, first-hand accounts and details provided by Phish’s inner circle…Phish: The Biography’s entertaining stories and colorful pictures of key events in the band’s remarkable history make it a must-read for fans.” 

Glide Magazine
“[A] good read for those who love the band.”

New York Post, 12/6/09
“Check out this authoritative Phish-ography…From the guys’ early days at a Princeton prep school and the University of Vermont to success, fame, drug busts, breakup and reunion, it’s all covered.”

Rolling Stone, 1/21/2010
“The real story...Though he’s clearly a fan…Puterbaugh is frank.”

New York Times Book Review, 2/28/10
“The important story is how Phish…prophetically anticipated the zeitgeist of today….Knowing Phish’s story will enrich anyone’s understanding of the American scene over the past quarter century.”

Cleveland Scene, 2/19/10
“[This] book is stuffed with insider details.”

Vermont Life, Spring 2010
“Puterbaugh’s book provides a fascinating glimpse at how a successful band implodes in spite of its noble intentions.”
--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

I would recommend this to any music fan.
Jack D
Completely mind blowing how a book this bad could be published, and god forbid, sold.
Traci Burton
I really enjoyed and burned thru in a couple sittings.
Aikotripp

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Stephen F. Capone Jr. on December 25, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Very well written and interesting take on the history of our favorite band. I'm a 10 year and 100+ shows-attended fan and there was plenty of newly-presented information in this enjoyable read. Of course, I like to read anything I can about phish, but this is one of the only times I've read a book about phish without getting the distinct feeling that I'm reading the work of "some guy who likes phish but can't write"...

This book is no masterpiece in literature, but it's interesting, fairly well written, and so probably worth your time - if you like the band or are interested in rock history, of course.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By marisaleigh on November 16, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Certainly not an earth shattering tell-all book, but an interesting read that does bring some insight on the dynamics that lead to the bands breakup in 2004. If you are a hardcore fan, you will not likely learn much you don't already know, but will appreciate some of the commentary from the likes of Tom Marshall, Amy Skelton, Paluska, etc.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Col. Forbin on February 24, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Got the book over Christmas and finished it in about 4 days. As others have mentioned, there is quite a bit of info that was already known, but what do you expect from such an obsessive fanbase? Despite having read most of the available published works dealing with "The Phish", there were plenty of stories in the book that I hadn't heard. The book was very readable and I'd certainly recommend it for any phan.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Dirty Dutch on July 14, 2010
Format: Hardcover
I enjoyed this and burned through it pretty quickly, but as many have noted, most of the content can be found scouring the Internet for early articles and interviews on the band, of which there are many. The biggest problem, however, was that the writer basically worked for the band, and while I can't say he really pulled any punches regarding the break up, drug use, the bust, etc., it just feels too warm and fuzzy, nerdy even in his admiration for the band. He tries to tell or re-tell 'funny' stories about the members and how they interact that just come off as lame. Not much musical analysis, other than the well-worn path of their improv exercises. I dunno, it also just felt incomplete, especially towards the end, but I did like how it's pretty current through last year. But while I'd still recommend it to fans, in the end it's just a well-placed fan/employee's perspective, with plenty of hyperbole regarding how great they were. Somebody mentioned Blair Jackson's 'Garcia' book, which had the nice touch of brief reviews of all the band's/Jerry's releases at the time (including the vast amount of live stuff), which showed that he knew what he was talking about; I get the sense that this guy couldn't go that deep in his analysis. And I'm sorry, Billy Breathes is far from their best work, and for me, honestly the beginning of the end, when they started trying to sound normal and ended up with mostly mediocre material. Finally, the quality of writing was really unexceptional. For a comparison, I've been reading many books in the 33 1/3 series, which, writing quality-wise, is light years ahead of this. Far from the best rock and roll book out there (see Neil Young's Shakey and the Levon Helm book about the Band for two of the best).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Susek on January 23, 2011
Format: Paperback
Just finished Phish: The Biography. There are several books out there about Phish and this one is by far the most comprehensive (includes reunion tour information). My favorite element was using the book as a frame of reference to all the different eras of shows I've been to. Knowing what was going on with the band helped me understand why the live playing and recordings changed over the years. To paraphrase, "Every note in an arena lasts 2 seconds..." which is (in part) why the jams became more ambient at times in the mid-late 90's. Never thought of that.

There was one omission I wish he covered. Puterbaugh covers the "Dead/Phish" connection well. However, I wish he mentioned 8/14/97 when Ken Keasey and the Merry Pranksters joined Phish onstage (Col. Forbin found Ken Keasey instead of Icculus that night). Keasey spoke of how the "Bozo's" (wookies?) were lost since the Dead weren't playing and had shown up at Phish concerts. While I don't think that event defined the connection, I think it was way more significant than Phish covering Terrapin, or Mike being a Deadhead...at least from a fan's perspective.

Thanks for a great book.
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10 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Anthony on November 21, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Go to the library and read a few pages before you buy. This is not a serious biography but a very flawed book written by a fan. I was hoping for something of the caliber of Blair Jackson's "Garcia." This book fell very far short. As a biography it fails to take a critical look at their music. It is filled with numerous factual errors. Fact checking was not a priority. Too bad this band does not yet have the biography they deserve.

One example of what I mean by uncritical: Early in the book the author gushes about a early festival that Phish played, and calls the weekend Utopian. He glosses over the fact that a concertgoer died that weekend. A concert where someone dies can hardly be a Utopian example of what the band is capable of. The book is filled with such oversights. Fact checking? The author does not know where big cypress was played, mistaking the locale by 800 miles! All he had to do was look at a map! Or just ask a real phan.

You might also be distressed when you read the Grateful Dead bashing in the first few pages. The author show a kind of contempt for Jerry Garcia that is very disturbing.

Edit: When I first wrote this biography, the author engaged in a bit of a flame war with me regarding my opinion. He wanted me to remove my review. He told me the factual mistakes were fixed in the second publishing. He told me he would send me the corrected version of the book and I gave him my address. I never received the corrected version of the book, but the author has my address.
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