He's the dude, but not the one that abides. The Dude of Life, whose real name is Steve Pollak, became friends with Trey in high school. The two played together in the band Space Antelope, and collaborated on several songs. When Phish was formed, the two friends kept in touch. The Dude’s association with the band stretches as far back as 12/1/84, the earliest show known to circulate heavily, where he lent his unique vocal stylings to “Skippy the Wondermouse.” Some of the Dude’s lyrical work - including “Dinner and a Movie,” “Fluffhead,” “Suzy Greenberg” and “Run Like an Antelope” - still appears in Phish’s repertoire.
The band responded by backing the Dude on his debut album, Crimes of the Mind. The album was recorded in the summer of 1991 but not released until 1994. When the Dude joins the band on-stage it is often to perform one of the songs from the album, including “Dahlia,” “TV Show,” “Family Picture,” “Self” and the title track.
While he usually joins the band to sing one of his own songs, or one of the Phish songs to which he contributed lyrics, the Dude also has led the band through an interesting “Mike’s Song” (5/12/91, with additional verses) and a fan-favorite, one-time-only performance of “Diamond Girl” on New Year’s Eve 1992.
In later years, his appearances became more sporadic. When the Dude joined the band for the encore on 11/24/98 in New Haven, CT, it was his first time on a Phish stage in over four years. He did not appear again for five more years, until the encore of 11/28/03, the first show of the Fall 2003 Anniversary Run. Fans at 12/13/97 thought they might see him when the band started chanting “Bring the Dude,” but it was not to be.