Mike Gordon Finally Got Barbara Eden From ‘I Dream of Jeannie’ to a Phish Show

Matt Inman on July 31, 2018

Rene Heumer (via Mike Gordon on Twitter)

Ahead of Phish’s show in Texas tonight, we’re glancing back to what seems to have been a wonderful moment at the band’s stop in the Los Angeles area this past weekend, when they played two gigs at The Forum in Inglewood and welcomed actress Barbara Eden backstage for at least one fantastic photo (see above). 

Eden, most well-known for her portrayal of the titular magical being on I Dream of Jeannie, has—surprisingly enough—struck up a bit of a friendship with bassist Mike Gordon, and it seems that Saturday’s Forum show was her first live Phish experience. Here’s hoping she enjoyed the experience!

For context, here’s an excerpt from a 2016 Jambands.com interview with Gordon in which—while explaining why he put a “Jeannie blink” reference into his solo tour announcement video at the time—he discusses his and his daughter’s love of Jeannie, how he reached out to Eden and eventually ended up meeting her, and the story of a ceramic elephant named Tiger:

I met Barbara Eden so I had to put in the Jeannie blink. I try not to bother her too much but she said that she and her husband watched it more than once and they laughed, so what more could you ask for when you’re putting a Jeannie blink into something.

How did you meet Barbara Eden?

My daughter and I watched every I Dream of Jeannie episode. I was trying her out on some older shows and for some reason that one is the one that stuck, more than say Bewitched or Get Smart or Star Trek. We both got addicted to it as a before bed ritual. We watched all the episodes, something like 120-130 of them, all five seasons, more than once. Then I started to see that she was online and she was wearing the outfit sometimes and she was tweeting. So then I read her memoir, which I loved—she wanted to be a singer and then she switched and it’s really inspiring. After that, I gave Tessa the replica bottle from the second and third season as a Hanukkah present.

Then we made this incredible picture of Tessa wearing a nice dress and blinking next to the bottle out on the lawn. Our friends Photoshopped some pink smoke and it’s really cool because the smoke is so contrived and her expression is so blasé.

So I wrote Barbara a letter saying what an influence she was and letting her know we were going to be at the L.A. Forum. I said, “If you don’t want to come to a rock concert it’d be great to meet you.” We ended up having lunch with her. In her memoir she said she liked elephants so we spent over 100 hours with some helpers making a ceramic elephant named Tiger after an elephant in one of the episodes. Pink smoke comes out of the trunk and it makes the blink sound from the episodes. We were trying to give her the best elephant ever.

While I was traveling across the country on Phish tour, I would go to art galleries with Tessa on the back of a bicycle looking at elephants. We used all those to make a card and then we spent the other part of the card explaining how she’s so inspirational in her acting and in her career and how nice she is to her fans on Twitter. And then behind the writing there was a secret panel with a collage of us making the elephant.

My light-up guitar builder, Ben Lewry was the last guy to help. He had to shrink the electronics even more, rebuilding the smoke machine. While I was on stage at the Bill Graham Civic Center playing the third gig, he was still working on it in Berkeley during the second set. We were going to fly that night and meet Barbara the next day for lunch and he finished it. Then he rushed it over and we took a couple pictures of it and I flew it to LA where it worked beautifully.

Rachel Eng is this incredible ceramics artist who works with children and helped us make the elephant. We worked with her when Phish was in Boston and we were using Boston as the hub for our shows. It took several days and then we had to drill the trunk out even wider to get the wires in for the smoke.
We presented the elephant to Barbara and she was really nice. She gave Tessa a Jeannie Barbie doll and she signed it. Tessa was so happy, so I couldn’t resist putting the Jeannie blink in the tour announcement video.