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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 May, 2004, 11:23 GMT 12:23 UK
Cult group Phish announce split
Page McConnell and Trey Anastasio
Keyboard player Page McConnell and guitarist Trey Anastasio
Popular American "jam band" Phish have announced they will split up at the end of their upcoming summer tour.

"We love Phish and the Phish audience too much to allow it to drag on beyond the point of vibrancy," wrote vocalist Trey Anastasio on the group's website.

The quartet formed in 1983 and were famed for their marathon performances and long, experimental jam sessions.

Seen by many as a younger version of The Grateful Dead, the band has a loyal cadre of fans known as "Phish-heads".

Anastasio said he and his fellow band members - drummer Jon Fishman, bassist Mike Gordon and keyboard player Page McConnell - felt that "Phish had run its course and that we should end it now while it's still on a high note".

'Amazing journey'

"We realised that we were faced with the opportunity to graciously step away in unison, united in our friendship and our feelings of gratitude," he wrote.

"It's been an amazing and incredible journey."

The band release their last album, Undermind, on 15 June and begin their farewell tour two days later in New York.

Phish sang the US national anthem at a basketball game in March
Phish were extremely popular on US college campuses, not least because they encouraged their fans to "bootleg" or tape their concerts.

The band temporarily separated in 2000 to concentrate on solo projects before reforming in 2002.

Their cult status was confirmed that same year when they made a guest appearance on hit cartoon show The Simpsons.

The band revelled in their offbeat status and eagerness to experiment. Fishman regularly played a vacuum cleaner on stage, and they were often accompanied by goggle-wearing singer Steve Pollak, dubbed the Dude of Life.

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