John French sent us news of the death of Alex Snouffer, aka Alex St Claire, guitarist, drummer and a founder member of Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band.

John wrote, “I talked with Jerry Handley, who was probably the closest to Alex. Jerry just lost his Dad and Alex was at the funeral a couple of weeks ago. We reminisced about the early bands that were the forerunners of the Magic Band. ”

Steve Froy’s full obituary for Alex Snouffer was added to this site on 9 January.


  1. Jack Briggs says:

    RIP Alex St CLair, your guitar playing on SAM was inspirational, you will be missed. I am currently reading “Captain Beefheart” by Mike Barnes, and today I got quite a kick from reading that when Alex added the “St Clair” and Don added the “Van” to their names, they told people they had to do it to evade police, for smuggling sponges into Nevada.
    Sad news indeed.

  2. says:

    Pierre Perrone’s obituary, ‘Alex St Clair: Guitarist with Captain Beefheart’ appears in the newspaper The Independent of 14 January 2006.

  3. Anonymous says:

    it just so very, very sad. Defnitely under appreciated.

  4. Anonymous says:

    never heard anything like his playing before or since, the man’s twists and turns and the humour and colour and pictures he created inside my head when i heard safe as milk. the total brilliance of the man and his playing will be greatly missed.

  5. Simon says:

    Very sad – but great obit Steve – more here in The Times today;,,60-1990502,00.html

  6. John Berg says:

    I grew up in the LA area and saw CB & TMB open at the Whiskey in Hollywood for Them in May 1966. Years later I was able to spend half a day sitting with Alex in his living room in a suburb of Denver, watching a football game on TV while asking him questions about his days in the Magic Band and anything else I could think of. At the time he was taking a course in I.T. (computer programming) at a local institute, trying for a fresh start in a new career that might offer enough money to live on — something he never found to be the case in music. At the time I met with Alex, he did not have any records or memorabilia from his days in the Magic Band, so I taped a bunchof stuff for him so he could at least again hear the stuff he played on. That was the end of my contact with Alex, and some time later he moved back to the Lancaster “high desert” area, where I’m pretty sure that John French had at least some contact with him from time to time as part of his writing the (still-forthcoming) book on CB &TMB. I found Alex to be easy to chat with, friendly, not too interested in the past, but ready to spend a few hours with me, a hopeless fan of all the music and members of every iteration of CB&TMB.

    John Berg

  7. pointsource says:

    What a great under rated guitar player he was. He has gone to the next dimension. Im sure there are deserts and flowers there. Probably playing music right now. I think you can do anything you want there. Long Live Alex Snouffer and thanks for inspiration and hope through sonic psychadelia…..

  8. Gary says:

    Sorry to hear of Butch’s passing. He was a fun guy and a great guitarist. I played with “Butch”, the Salazar brothers, Terry Wimberly, Don van Vliet, Jim Sherwood, et al as a drummer in one of “The Omens” iterations prior to joining the Navy in the fall of 1960.
    Gary Burkey

  9. Guy Kurshenoff says:

    Standing in my beat up leather motorcycle jacket outside NYC’s Town Hall after the Clear Spot show (“72?/”73?) Alex came up to me and with a smile on his face said “You look like a reject from a cheap Marlon Brando movie.” and chucked me under my chin. Laughing, I responded “Yeah, but I got my Ed Marimba pig-tails.” (which I did), and a smileing Alex walked up the block to Times Square with his guitar slung over his shoulder.

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