a Project of the Mockingbird Foundation

Performances Song History

The Chicken

Music/Lyrics: Alfred “Pee Wee” Ellis

Vocals: Instrumental

Original Artist: James Brown

Original Album: Single; B-side to the "The Popcorn" (1968)

Debut: 1988-03-11

Historian: Phillip Zerbo (pzerbo)

Played seemingly on a whim, this classic James Brown instrumental jam opened up the 3/11/88 show on an atypically funky note, leading all-too-agreeably into “Funky Bitch.” Prefacing the song, Trey remarked on the ideal nature of the James Brown tune as a show-opener, providing the impetus for the rest of the band to join him on a fun-but-White rendition.

Though seemingly destined to grace the Phish stage only once, members of Phish have performed the song in numerous other contexts. Trey and the Vermont Jazz All-Stars gave the tune a whirl on 6/8/99 and 11/16/00. Fishman surely worked up a cold sweat on the tune sitting in with the Grippo Funk Band at Burlington’s Red Square on 10/23/00. Mike – juiced up by his own band’s performance earlier in the evening at Boulder’s Fox Theatre – sat in on this song during a late night set with “ZKJ’s Word of Mouth Experience” on 10/7/03.

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