How Phish Phooled with a Phake Hanks

01/08/2003 at 03:06 PM EST

As we all know by now, that wasn't Tom Hanks making a special guest appearance at Phish's New Year's Eve concert at New York's Madison Square Garden -- despite earlier reports in The New York Times, the Associated Press and elsewhere.

But throwing further light on the hoax, PEOPLE now reveals that it was Steve McConnell, vice president of marketing for a San Francisco technology company, who phooled the 20,000 cheering fans and the multitude of journalists who covered the event. Steve also is the brother of Page McConnell, keyboardist for the Vermont band, which ended its self-imposed two-year hiatus at the Garden.

Not that the concert was the first time Steve has been mistaken for the "Cast Away" star.

"Usually I have a beard, and it happens most when I shave (it)," McConnell tells PEOPLE. "If you saw me from the back you wouldn't think I was Tom Hanks, because I actually have a bald spot."

The idea of a Hanks prank evolved shortly after the band performed on David Letterman's "Late Show" -- the night when Hanks was a guest. But McConnell had no idea that people (and the press) would end up thinking he really was Tom Hanks.

"Everybody in the band thought it was good," he says. "But it got a life of its own when it was in The New York Times, USA Today, AP and 'Headline News.' When I got home on Jan. 2, I was flipping around the channels and they were talking about it, and I almost fell off the couch. I had no idea it was going to get this big."

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