Fishman Artist // Phil LeshPhil Lesh's began playing the trumpet when he was fourteen years old, having grown up being exposed to jazz greats such as John Coltrane and Miles Davis. Lesh enrolled at UC Berkeley to become a music major, but he and a friend, Tom Constanten, quickly became appalled by the music department's tendency to discourage individual creativity.
Midway through his first semester at Berkeley, Lesh dropped out of college. Lesh enrolled himself in composer, Luciano Berio's class at Mill's College where he was finally given the opportunity to compose his own music. The following summer, Lesh returned to California where he met Garcia and Pigpen in Palo Alto. Once, in Kepler's bookstore, Lesh heard Garcia play banjo and Lesh asked him to play on the radio show that Lesh was an engineer for. Quickly, the two became friends.
One night in 1965, Lesh, Garcia, and Weir all happened to be at the same party in Palo Alto. While in Garcia's car, smoking pot, Lesh mentioned that he was interested in taking up an electric instrument, maybe the bass. Lesh attended the Warlocks next gig and was invited to play bass with them. After playing a few more gigs, the combination of talent became indelible.
He made a significant contribution to If I Could Only Remember My Name, David Crosby's 1971 solo debut. In 1975, Lesh completed Seastones, an experimental collaboration with electronics wizard Ned Lagin. Described as "cybernetic bio-music" by a contemporary newsletter, the set used a battery of technological gadgets and computers to create impressionistic patterns of sound. Jerry Garcia, Grace Slick and David Crosby appeared on the project, but their contributions were masked by layers of treated effects. Lesh and Lagin also made live appearances showcasing similar material, but the bassist pursued a more orthodox sideline with Too Loose To Truck, a bar-band specializing in cover versions. Despite these outside activities, Lesh's strongest work has been made within the core of the parent group, none better highlighted than on "Dark Star" from Live Dead.