Guitarists Trey Anastasio and Jess Holdsworth, bassist Mike Gordon and drummer Jon Fishman founded Phish in 1983 at the University of Vermont. They recruited percussionist Marc Daubert in 1984, and for a time were billing themselves as a Grateful Dead cover band.
Daubert exited the band in 1985, and Page McConnell joined as a keyboardist that same year. Holdsworth left the group after graduation in 1986, and the lineup of Anastasio, Gordon, McConnell and Fishman has remained intact ever since — with the exception of one or two breakups and a hiatus here and there.
Phish's original material and playing style was heavily influenced by the Dead — an eclectic, free-form mix of folk, jazz, country, bluegrass and pop, shaped and reshaped by improvisation in their live performances.
Their presence on the 1990s-2000s music scene has, in the minds of many fans, served to fill the void created by the death of Grateful Dead leader Jerry Garcia in 1995.