Chris McGregor, the revered stage production and lighting designer who has been responsible for many elaborate Phish “gags” over the past three decades, has died. He was 61.
McGregor was perhaps best known for his work with avant-garde collective The Residents, who confirmed his passing in a news post on the band’s website. “A virtuoso lighting designer as well as a great guy, Chris unfortunately and unexpectedly suffered a heart attack and died Monday, July 31. He will be greatly missed.”
Chris McGregor’s work with The Residents caught the attention of a young Trey Anastasio, who met him in person in 1993 when Phish performed at Laguna Seca Daze festival in Monterey, CA. Anastasio and Phish went on to enlist McGregor’s expertise to bring to life various grand ideas throughout the next 30+ years, beginning with the band’s “Aquarium” New Year’s Eve spectacle in Worcester, MA. He also designed the flying hotdog that Phish rode through Boston Garden on New Year’s Eve 1994, which now hangs proudly in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, OH.
Phish “Suck To Blow” New Year’s Gag (Designed by Chris McGregor) – 12/31/14
Read the obituary for Chris McGregor posted by Phish below. Thank you for all the magic, Chris. You’ll be missed.
RIP Chris McGregor (1962-2023), production designer, creative visionary and dear friend to the Phish band members.
A backstage run-in with Trey and Fish at the Laguna Seca festival in the spring of 1993 led to one of Phish’s most enduring creative relationships.
Known originally for his pioneering work with The Residents, the legendary music and art collective, Chris first worked with Phish on their 1993 New Year’s Eve “Aquarium” set at The Centrum in Worcester.
Over the next two decades, Chris was responsible for such iconic Phish moments such as the “Baby New Year”/“Time Factory” gag in 1995, the late-night Tower Set at the IT festival in 2003, the “Chilling, Thrilling” haunted house for the 2014 Halloween set in Las Vegas, and the “From Suck to Blow” gag at 2014’s New Year’s Eve show in Miami, among others. He also fabricated the chessboard for the band’s tour-long chess match against the audience in Fall 1995, as well as Fish’s Elvis cape at the Aladdin in Vegas in 1996.
But of course Chris was most notable for designing a 16’ flying hot dog that flew through Boston Garden with the band aboard on New Year’s Eve 1994. The hot dog would make its return at Big Cypress in 1999, and for the Meatstick New Year’s gag in 2010, and now hangs on permanent display in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.
Chris’ influence on Phish cannot be underestimated. We will all miss his wit, his humor and his vision, and are so grateful for having had the chance to work closely with him for so many years.