The Dude of Life

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The Dude of Life
Steve Pollak

Steve Pollak, best known by his stage name The Dude of Life,[1] is a musician and lyricist.[2]

Early life[edit]

Steve Pollak is from White Plains.[3] He attended high school in the early 1980s.[2] He earned the alias Dude of Life in high school while playing with the teenage band Space Antelope, along with fellow student Trey Anastasio.[2] While going to boarding school at Taft in Watertown, Connecticut, he got the name from classmates when he appeared in a friend's dorm with orange goggles and draped in a tapestry, and saying otherworldly things.[3] In his band Space Antelope, they wrote their own music and covered Grateful Dead songs.[3]

The Dude of Life became involved with Trey Anastasio when they attended The Taft School (where they fronted a band called Space Antelope) and later at the University of Vermont. They continued jamming together at the University of Vermont.[3] Pollak attended SUNY Purchase after one semester at the University of Vermont, and majored in literature. He afterwards worked a series of odd jobs, such as a salesman.[3] l


He has co-written numerous Phish songs, including "Suzy Greenberg", "Run like an Antelope",[2] "Fluffhead", "Sanity", "Dinner and a Movie",[4] "Crimes of the Mind", and "Slave to the Traffic Light".

"Fluffhead" was inspired by Pollak's older brother, who died of cancer.[3]

Recent songs he co-wrote with Anastasio include "Show of Life", "Architect", and "Dr. Gabel."[4]

The Dude of Life has appeared on stage at Phish concerts numerous times. During appearances at Phish shows as well as his own shows, he threw out rubber animals with Sharpie inscriptions by him as well as Phish band members and associates.[3]

In 2013, he released an original song he co-wrote with Anastasio called "Edie's Dream." It was inspired by Edie Sedgwick.[4]

Solo career[edit]

The Dude of Life has released two studio albums: Crimes of the Mind (recorded in 1991), which featured Phish as his backing band, and the 1999 release Under the Sound Umbrella with a different backing band, featuring appearances by Trey Anastasio, Mike Gordon and Jon Fishman.

In February 1994 he played at the Paradise in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with appearances by members of Phish.[5]

For Under the Sound Umbrella, backing band was the Great Red Shark, which included Cliff Mays on guitar, Mark Thors on keyboard, Paul Gassman on bass, and Jim Weingast on drums.[2]

Entertainment Weekly gave Crimes of the Mind a review, and said it was "inconsequential silliness". It gave it a score of B-.[6]

In writing about Under the Sound Umbrella, William Ruhlmann at Allmusic said that it has "quirky lyrics that border on novelties" with a style reminiscent of the Beatles and David Bowie.[7]

The "Under the Sound Umbrella" tour found The Dude of Life performing at venues like The Comfort Zone in Toronto, Ontario, MusikFest in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, and Alexanders in New Jerusalem, Pennsylvania where he performed alongside bands Captain Zig, Emergent Evolution, and Bohemian Sunrise.

In 2015, he and Charles de Saint Phalle collaborated on original music and sound effects for Lightscapes at Van Cortlandt Manor in Croton-on-Hudson, an installation with sculpture, light and music.[8]


He lives in Croton-on-Hudson[3] with his wife Leslie.[3] As of 2008, Steve Pollak was teaching elementary school in the Bronx, New York. He is married and has three children.[9]



  1. ^ [compiled by] the Mockingbird Foundation (2004). The Phish companion : a guide to the band and their music (2nd ed.). San Francisco, CA: Backbeat Books. pp. 509-. ISBN 9780879307998.
  2. ^ a b c d e Ankeny, Jason. "The Dude of Life". Allmusic. Retrieved August 5, 2018.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i Tucker, Becca (February 13, 2008). "The Dude of Life". Straus Media.
  4. ^ a b c "The Dude of Life Shares a New Trey Anastasio Song". Relix. January 31, 2013.
  5. ^ Jacobs, John (February 8, 1994). "Phish members join Dude of Life in hybrid concert". The Tech. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  6. ^ Sinclair, Tom (December 16, 1994). "Crimes of the Mind". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved August 5, 2018. Inconsequential silliness is the order of the day on Crimes of the Mind, an album of throwaway collaborations between the Vermont-based band Phish and someone called the Dude of Life, apparently an old friend. The nice part is that the Dude’s ditties force Phish to keep its penchant for kitchen-sink jamming in check.
  7. ^ Ruhlmann, William. "Under the Sound Umbrella". AllMusic. Retrieved August 5, 2018. He writes quirky lyrics that border on novelties, such as "Tow Truck Driver," in which the singer describes shooting the man who towed his car off his front lawn, and "Paparazzi," which advises that, if you become famous, you should let them take your picture because you can't outrun them. The Dude sets such sentiments to music that is sometimes reminiscent of late-period Beatles (those rock songs that John Lennon wrote for The Beatles, Abbey Road, and Let It Be) and early David Bowie (Space Oddity, Hunky Dory), and sometimes just generic rock and funk. Derivative? Sure. A spin-off of a more popular entity? Okay. But the Dude is not without his own odd perspective on things. Look, it would not be entirely accurate to say that he is to Phish what Warren Zevon was to Jackson Browne, but .... You get the idea.
  8. ^ Barry, John W. (May 19, 2015). "Phish's Dude of Life now a dude of light". Poughkeepsie Journal. Retrieved August 7, 2018.
  9. ^ Becca Tucker (2008). "The Dude of Life". Archived from the original on 2013-10-28.

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