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Phish: The Biography

3.76 of 5 stars 3.76  ·  rating details  ·  297 ratings  ·  36 reviews
Phish rank among the greatest live bands in rock history, and a sizable subculture of Phishheads would argue there’s been none better. Formed in Burlington, Vermont, this determined foursome of high-IQ misfits developed their uniquely telepathic chemistry playing that college town’s club scene. Vermont’s best-kept secret rose to national prominence in the nineties, when th ...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published November 24th 2009 by Da Capo Press (first published January 1st 2009)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 412)
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Todd
I suppose I shouldn't have expected much from a tell-all biography, but my god Puterbagh's writing leaves much to be desired. Puterbagh had such a wealth of sources available to him that he could have written some truly meaningful analysis of the band, but instead falls into the gossipy traps that fans clamor for; this is especially true when addressing the drug use surrounding the band. The book is definitely written exclusively for the diehard Phan, with Puterbagh casually using Phishisms like ...more
H R Koelling
Where do I begin?

I saw my first Phish show, on a lark, on May 11, 1989, at a little dive bar called Pauly's Hotel in Albany, NY. I was 18 years old and still in high school. I remember going to school the next day and telling all of my friends about the band I saw the night before. I stumbled from class to class in a daze that day, unable to concentrate, as I kept thinking about what I'd witnessed the night before. I told everyone that Phish will play at the (then known as) Knick Arena in five y
...more
Marc
Nothing new here, but it's about as well written as anyone is going to do when trying to be poignant or accurate about a complete anomaly. Some new interviews and thoughts on latter year stuff that wasn't overly cheesy. Attempts to present a more global perspective on all of the weird stuff from late 90's and on that led to the ultimate debacle in 2004. Much better than the other bio's out there, but nothing that the typically obsessive fan wouldn't have otherwise seen/thought/heard already. Sti ...more
evan
It does a decent job of telling phish's story, but it really wasn't a great book. The writing was extremely uneven. The author was trying to tell a story in largely chronological order, but pull things from different periods times as they were relevant to a particular theme. Unfortunately, he wasn't very graceful about this, and so his writing was just very choppy and awkward.

The story spent a lot of time in the early years of phish and sped up a lot towards the end. This was odd because he beg
...more
Paul
Phish: The Biography was a quick, light read, so very enjoyable in that sense- I did, however, find Puterbaugh to be only a mediocre writer, perhaps even scatter-brained in his narrative. On top of that, a lot was left out, as I later learned, as the author likely wanted to preserve the tight friendships he had developed with the band members over the years. Examples: hard drug use was brushed over (save Trey, who was even given a pretty sympathetic treatment); the affair between Page's wife and ...more
Mat
Despite having read all there ever was to read abotu this band, this bio did a good job of keeping me netertained while recountingthe early years of the band and even revealing some interesting and new details from the inside about the really early years. The second half of thebook relating to the 1999-2009 was the reeason why i really bought and read this book and it didnt disappoint.

The author uses accounts from Phish's close entourage as well as testimonies from the band memebres themselves,
...more
Brian Wade
It seems Phish: The Biography would be better appreciated by an established Phan. Readers looking for a generic introduction to the band and music should look elsewhere.

I thought overall Puterbaugh does a great job composing the history of events from birth to fame to hiatus to breakup to 2009+. I would be suprised if even an ardent, die-hard fan read the book and did not learn something new or did not find at least a fresh approach to the band's story. It seems Phish: The Biography is fairly ex
...more
Bill B
This is worthwhile read for phans and non-fans...although I'd say that the text is chock full of "inside" speak, jargon, and ideas only familiar to those who are already phish phaithful. Most of this material is well known, not a whole lot of new information is revealed. (There really isn't a whole lot of new material to learn.) However, Puterbaugh does a great job of delivering the story of Phish in a pithy and interesting way. I liked the arrangement of the material, using all the great festiv ...more
Joel
Puterbaugh did a good job with one. Some rock bios can be pretty tough to plow through because of (often) subpar writing combined with fanboy adoration., Though Puterbaugh is clearly a fan, he's got the journalistic chops to keep it objective enough to not be overbearing. The only real drawback is that it got a bit repetitive at times toward the end with all of the repeated mentions of the dilemma of what to do with the large office staff. I know that was a huge problem for them, but it kind of ...more
Mike
Eh, this is a moderately interesting book whether you're a fan or not. There are some things in this book that I did not know, and I suppose as a fan you wouldn't mind re-learning them, but there are also some factual errors that I was able to spot and correct because I know so much (but which don't ruin the story if you're not a fan). My biggest problem with the book is that it sometimes makes it seem as if certain eras of Phish are not worth listening to, when in fact each fan is going to have ...more
Stacie
Covering Phish's career from inception to their 2009 comeback, Parke Puterbaugh tackles the phenomenon that is Phish in this well-written biography. An obvious phan, Puterbaugh still manages to remain objective in this entertaining and thoughtful account. Highlights include glimpses into the band's practice exercises that have led to their ability to cohesively improvise on stage; great interviews with cast and crew; and thoughtful insights into where it all went wrong for one of the most succes ...more
Jeremy
Mar 02, 2010 Jeremy rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: phish fans who want to get to know the band
Supposed to be an insider's portrait, but the author doesn't seem to understand the inside all that well. The glossing over of the years between 97-2000 will irritate anyone who is familiar with the amazing work the band put out in that time. The best part is the description of the last few years and the insightful interviews with Trey and Brad Sands in the appendix.

The book isn't nearly as successful as "the phish book" before it, and as a biography it only really skims the surface, with few a
...more
Adam
Sometimes you give a book a high rating "just because" and this is one of those times. Yes, there are a bunch of little factual errors that most fans will spot right away (i.e. Trey's middle name is Guiseppe, not Joseph) and just about any details of their private lives (divorce, etc.) are glossed over. But the details of the hiatus>return>breakup>reunion are pretty revealing and candid. Also good history of the band's early years. Puterbaugh is obviously a fan but his experience as a m ...more
Alex
Mar 18, 2010 Alex rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: music
A piece of work on one of my favorites bands; Puterbaugh has worked on and off with Phish since 95, and this book really reflects a lot of the interviews he conducted. It is divided into several sections, the early shows, growth spurt, the decadent years, and then bad years, before winding up things with reflections on the current reunion of 2009. There is not a lot of new information, but it was an excellent refresher on what makes this band so special. And there are some good interviews and so ...more
Paul Spehar
Learned quite a few new things about the band members and their music. I have been a fan of the Phish for many years, but had not read a book about them since Phishing Manual. I first became aware of this book during Festival 8 where I saw a few copies floating around.

I have not been in the practice of reading for many years. I was at the library frustrated that a few of the books I was interested in were not available without a wait. While wandering aimlessly around the stacks, I saw a few cop
...more
Adam Hegg
exactly what I wanted right now. Maybe not 5 star when I am not listening to shows whole marathon training bit there we are.
Paul Siegell
Hey hey, not to be a douche, but...
did any of you get to any of these?

* 06.25.00 ALLTEL PAVILION, NC: http://bit.ly/7YEG0t
* NYE 2003 @ MSG in NYC: http://bit.ly/56w93D
* The Afternoon Set of 12.31.99: http://bit.ly/4qtUdj
* COVENTRY: http://bit.ly/69cX1K

more > http://paulsiegell.blogspot.com
Carol
Puterbaugh did a good job focusing on what I wanted to know - origins of songs, how the band composes, how and why they broke up and got back together. It avoided much detail about the band's personal lives, which sets it apart from most rock biographies. A quick and enlightening read for any Phish fan.
Peacegal
It’s been said that writing about music is like dancing about architecture, and this metaphor especially applies to the hard-to-pin-down music of Phish.

This biography was “ok,” but rather dull. At times, the author gets too “gee whiz” for his own good. He also repeats himself frequently.
Sarah Reis
For Phish phans only - others won't get much out of it. I loved reading the history of one of my favorite bands and I have a list of live shows I need to download now. I found some bits repetitive but I got loads of insight into these great musicians.
Glen
This book is fantastic. Being fairly well versed in phish lore I didn't expect to learn nearly as much as I did from Puterbaugh's biography. This book is filled with facts and tidbits that only phish's inner circle could provide. Great read. Great band.
Kevin
If I wasn't a Phish fan, I probably wouldn't rate this as high but I found it very enjoyable and informative. The author had great access to the band and the crew, so there is a lot of good insight and interesting stories. Fun book.
Reverenddave
Disjointed, repetitive completely lacking any pretense of objectivity and offering very little in the way of real insight into its subject despite the author's apparent access, this book was quite a disappointment.
Dave Mason


A solid read. I am a fan. I own several albums, but have only seen them live once. As i was reading this, it made me want to see them again and again and again...
Jesse Lubinsky
Easy read. Nothing new covered here. Some minor interesting tidbits but on the whole, not really worth the time. The writing style was a bit confusing.
Rob Smith
Not a lot of new info for the obsessive fan, but I'm not sure the casual fan will care enough to read it.

Over all a fun and quick read, though.
Kyle Callahan
Some interesting tidbits about the darker side of things in the late nineties and through the break up, but not a whole lot of new information.
Joshua
I maybe learned two facts from the book - glad I read through it but thankful that it was a library book.
David Striepe
I'm about as big a Phish fan as they come, and this book was terrible. Schlocky, gossip-column writing.
Heather
as a fan, it was an interesting read. it's fun to be a fly on the wall of such great musicians.
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