band, "part political
device, part necessity
, and part entertainment
" according to "Country" Joe McDonald. Their web site (http://www.well.com/~cjfish/index.html) calls them the "band that stopped the war in Vietnam
A band of that name were first put together to do a flexi-disc in a "talking"-themed issue of a magazine McDonald was editing, "Rag Baby," in 1965. McDonald and Barry Melton performed as a folk duo under the name for a while, and then put together a different group of people from those who played on the first disc: Paul Armstrong on bass, tambourine and other percussion instruments, Bruce Barthol on bass, David Cohen on guitar and keyboards, and John Francis Gunning on drums. They played around Berkeley and were signed by Vanguard Records in 1966. Armstrong left, and Gunning was replaced by "Chicken" Hirsh.
They had already written what was to become their most famous song, The Fish Cheer/I-Feel-Like-I'm-Fixin'-To-Die Rag, but it was left off their first album for being too political. The single "Not So Sweet Martha Lorraine" got on college radio and they toured the ballroom circuit, appeared at the Monterey Pop Festival, and released a second LP, "I Feel Like I'm Fixin' To Die."
Two more albums, "Together" and "Here We Are Again," by 1969 (by which time Barthol, Cohen and Hirsh had left), when they played at Woodstock. They had been altering "The Fish Cheer's" lyrics in concert for several months (and lost at least one booking because of it), but "Back at Woodstock, when Joe yelled 'Gimme an F!' at the end of the cheer the sound of all these people yelling 'fuck' was astounding or better yet, hard to believe; it was as if a rather large cross-section of America's youth was telling the world 'get stuffed.' Things were never the same, in more ways than one."
The Fish recorded one more album, "C.J. Fish" with Mark Kapner on keyboards, Doug Metzler on bass and Greg Dewey on drums, and got the message of their songs out through the Woodstock film. After that Country Joe and Barry Melton both had solo careers.
Some quotes from Country Joe McDonald's website, http://www.countryjoe.com