Phillip Chapman Lesh (born March 15, 1940 in Berkeley, California) is a musician and a founding member of the Grateful Dead, with whom he played bass guitar throughout their 30-year career.
After the band's disbanding in 1995, Lesh continued the tradition of Grateful Dead family music with side project Phil Lesh and Friends, which paid homage to the Dead's music by playing their originals, common covers, and the songs of the members of his band. Phil & Friends helped keep a legitimate entity for the band's music to continue but have been on hiatus since 2008. Recently, Lesh has been performing with Furthur alongside former Dead bandmate Bob Weir.
Although Lesh started out as a violin player, in high school he switched to trumpet. Studying under Bob Hansen, he had a keen interest in avant-garde classical music and free jazz; he also studied under the Italian modernist Luciano Berio at Mills College (classmates included minimalist composer Steve Reich, and future Dead keyboardist Tom Constanten). While still a college student he met then-bluegrass banjo player Jerry Garcia. Despite antipodal musical interests, they formed a friendship and eventually Lesh was talked into becoming the bass guitarist for Garcia's new rock group, then known as the Warlocks. According to Lesh, the first song he rehearsed with the band was "I Know You Rider". He joined them for their third or fourth gig (memories vary) and stayed until the end. Lesh noticed that another group had made a record under the name Warlocks when he found their single on Columbia Records at a record store . It turns out that the band "The Warlocks" on that single also ended up changing their name to The Velvet Underground. He suggested to the other band members that they change their name.