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Phil Lesh Appreciation Society: Enter the Philzone...

Discussion in 'Bassists [BG]' started by spacebassed, Jan 4, 2013.

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  1. spacebassed


    Jan 31, 2009
    (Photo by Jay Blakesberg)

    Welcome to the Talkbass Phil Lesh Appreciation Society, the home of all things Phil. Feel free to post about tone, theory, technique, instruments, gear, shows, photos, setlists, experiences, the Grateful Dead, ANYTHING... as long as it pertains to Phil in some way.

    (photo by Jay Blakesberg)

    Phillip Chapman Lesh was born March 15, 1940 in Berkely California. He 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 - studying avant-garde composition and electronic music - 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.

    Phil circa 1965 w/The Warlocks (photo by Herb Greene)

    Phil w/ his Alembic modified Gibson EB3

    Phil w/ his Alembic modified Guild Starfire "The Godfather/Big Brown." Also pictured are his McIntosh 2300's and Fender Dual Showman stack (photo by Stephen Barncard)

    Phil w/ his Alembic Osage Orange "Mission Control" and McIntosh 2300's in front of "The Wall of Sound" (photo by James R.Anderson)

    Phil's current rig: Modulus Quantum 6 TBX and Meyer Sound cabinets (photo by Dylan Carney)
  2. spacebassed


    Jan 31, 2009
    Guild Starfire prior to modification ("Big Red"):


    Inside the Alembic Osage Orange:

  3. edwinhurwitz

    edwinhurwitz Supporting Member

    May 13, 2003
    Boulder, CO
    Endorsing Artist: DR Strings, SMS, D-TAR
    Sign me up!
  4. edwinhurwitz

    edwinhurwitz Supporting Member

    May 13, 2003
    Boulder, CO
    Endorsing Artist: DR Strings, SMS, D-TAR
    PS I think that last shot is the one I scanned from the piece of the 35mm film I got with my GD Movie order.
  5. spacebassed


    Jan 31, 2009
    Edwin, I already had #2 reserved for you.:D

    Phil Lesh Appreciation Society:
    1. spacebassed
    2. edwinhurwitz
    3. bassman10096
    4. PaulMacCnj
    5. Zootsuitbass
    6. MtJam
    7. MrBEAR
    8. FretlessMainly
    9. StrangerDanger
    10. JFMusic
    11. DJ Bebop
    12. BluesWalker
    13. TwentyHz
    14. bassRunner
    15. Basshappi
    16. Musicphan
    17. Philonius
    18. RDagBasses
    19. Nathan Levine
    20. bmb73
    21. HolmeBass
    22. twhitedc
    23. RCCollins
    24. N.F.A.
    25. Bassman8416
    26. TigerInATrance
    27. Passinwind
    28. sven kalmar
    29. kbodonne
    30. micgtr71
    31. ChrisPbass
    32. joe vegas
    33. Todd GT5
    34. Big Brother
    35. Dave Klausner
    36. OOTB68
    37. walkinbluez
    38. MLysh
    39. Rev J
    40. jhuss88
    41. baba
    42. preside
    43. zfunkman
    44. StephenR
    45. geeza
    46. BoxofRain
    47. sleepy_monkey
    48. shakman
    49. The Bartender
    50. Modulicious
    51. Slowburn
    52. conebeckham
    53. jcpassport1
    54. Dee-man
    55. oldleftybass
    56. Popps
    57. EMF
    58. Harpo61
    59. Mound of Sound
    60. enjoytheband
    61. mhandley16
  6. Great Thread! Please sign me up.
  7. Basshappi


    Feb 12, 2007
    I am not a fan of the Grateful Dead but I have always had tremendous respect for Phil Lesh. Both he and Jack Cassidy have probably contributed more to the early advancements in bass electronics and amplification than any two other bassplayers but have received little in the way of recognition for their pioneering efforts.
  8. spacebassed


    Jan 31, 2009
    The following is the transcript of a letter written to Grateful Dead manager Danny Rifkin from Warner Bros. exec Joe Smith regarding the recording of "Anthem of the Sun":


    December 27, 1967

    Mr. Danny Rifkin
    710 Ashbury Street
    San Francisco, California

    Dear Danny:

    Dave Hassinger is back from his New York trip and the tapes are being sent from New York. We plan to release the LP in February and must have all art work in her almost immediately. There is no time for delays or indecision as we must have the package on the market as quickly as possible.

    The recording in New York turned out to be very difficult. Lack of preparation, direction and cooperation from the very beginning have made this album the most unreasonable project with which we have ever involved ourselves.

    Your group has many problems, it would appear, and I would believe that Hassinger has no further interest or desire to work with them under conditions similar to this last fiasco. It's apparent that nobody in your organization has enough influence over Phil Lesh to evoke anything resembling normal behavior. You are now branded as an undesirable group in almost every recording studio in Los Angeles. I haven't got all the New York reports in as yet, but the guys ran through engineers like a steamroller.

    It all adds up to a lack of professionalism. The Grateful Dead is not one of the top acts in the business as yet. With their attitudes and their inability to take care of business when it's time to do so would lead us to believe that they never will be truly important. No matter how talented your group is, they're going to have to put something of themselves into the business before they go anywhere.

    Recording dates have been firmly fixed for January 3rd and two days thereafter. We expect that you will be on hand to complete this drawn out project and get the art work going. Your artistic control is subject to reasonable restrictions and I believe that the time and expense involved along with your own freedom has been more than reasonable. Now let's get the album out on the streets without anymore fun and games.

    Best regards,


    Joseph B. Smith

    Stondis likes this.
  9. spacebassed


    Jan 31, 2009
    Very true, most folks don't realize just how much of an impact the Grateful Dead had on the way we hear music today. Particularly their pioneering efforts in concert sound/line array systems and bass tone shaping. Several of the companies that came out of the scene have become industry leaders - Alembic and Meyer Sound probably being the biggest two. We likely wouldn't be enjoying the great live sound we do at concerts today if it wasn't for the Grateful Dead constantly pushing the envelope and striving for improvements.

    would you like a number, Basshappi?
  10. Zootsuitbass


    Mar 13, 2011
    In on the "and"

    Love me some phil,,, first bassist I ever noticed.
  11. spacebassed


    Jan 31, 2009
    The Story of "Box of Rain":

    An interesting note, Phil Lesh did not play bass on the studio version of "Box of Rain" (American Beauty), it was played by Dave Torbert (New Riders of the Purple Sage). Phil did, however, play acoustic guitar on the track.
  12. MtJam

    MtJam Supporting Member

    Jan 14, 2009
    Please sign me up for this, too! Phil has been a huge musical influence for me for many, many years.

    Thanks for creating this society!
  13. I'll take a seat on this trip please.
  14. FretlessMainly


    Nov 17, 2010
    I'm not normally interested in joining the clubs around here, but I'll certainly make an exception in this case. One of the most original and creative musicians of all time and someone who has an uncanny ability to hold the whole band on a string for as long as he so desires; finally choosing the most opportune time to let go of that string and release the whole monster to do as it will.

    I don't dig Phil because I'm a bass player, I'm a bass player because I dig Phil.

    While his best work is in the live recordings (which is the case for the whole band for the most part), check out the note choices in the intro to this one:
  15. StrangerDanger

    StrangerDanger Neo Maxie Zoom Dweebie Supporting Member

    Jan 3, 2010
    North DFW, TX
    I'll take lucky number 9. FOTM was the first song I learned on bass. Phil Bombs are teh best.
  16. spacebassed


    Jan 31, 2009
    Well Said. Counting out that 7 for "Estimated Prophet" is a trip, isn't it.
  17. JFMusic


    Dec 14, 2011
    Plymouth, MA
    Excellent idea - sign me up!
  18. I want to be part of this long strange trip :)
  19. BluesWalker

    BluesWalker Supporting Member

    Jun 17, 2008
    San Diego, CA

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