Track list Grow Fins Nowadays woman’s gotta hit a man When it blows it stacks Sun zoom spark Tropical hot dog night Bat chain puller Ice cream for crow China pig Lick my decals off baby Harry Irene Big eyed beans from venus 1996 Sweden CD Ultimate Audio Entertainment UAE disc3 www.morganagren.com Tracks 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 11 recorded in Umea 2nd April 1995; Tracks 6 – 10 recorded in Stockholm 4th May 1995. Background “This project was put together in collaboration with the travelling exhibition [Stand Up To Be Discontinued] of Don van Vliet’s paintings. The art gallery wanted to have Don’s musicRead More →

Denny Walley was born in Pennsylvania and lived for a time in New York before his family moved him to Lancaster when he was about 12 (around 1955) – his father was transferred with his job in an aircraft company. At this time Denny was playing the accordion for which he’d found a natural affinity and which his parents had allowed him to take lessons. In high school Denny hooked up with Frank Zappa through Frank’s brother Bobby often driving them to music rehearsals despite being only 14 or 15. Although he knew of Don Vliet he wasn’t acquainted with him at this time. DennyRead More →

Arthur Dyer Tripp III grew up in Pittsburgh, he was a drum major at Mt Lebanon High School and in 1962 became percussionist for the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra. After moving to New York he met up with Frank Zappa and joined the Mothers of Invention. When John French left the Magic Band in 1969 Art was asked to join as drummer. (Unintentionally he had played on Trout Mask Replica when Zappa used a Mothers track as backing to ‘The Blimp’). Drumbo returned to help out on the Lick My Decals Off Baby album which enabled Beefheart to make use of Art’s skills on the marimbaRead More →

Michael took on the daunting task of drumming for the Magic Band reunion tours when Robert Williams was unable to carry on playing with them. This allowed John French to take on vocal duties. Michael’s introduction to the band came from Mark Boston. The two of them had played together for many years in a band called Duck which toured US military bases around the world. He’s also played with country singer Leon Everette (as did Mark) and Denny King (another famous Lancaster musician). Michael had auditioned for the drum slot in the Magic Band in 1976 after having met Don but wasn’t able toRead More →

[alert_box type=”info”]Michael Traylor is the new drummer for the reformed Magic Band. He provided a brief biography and agreed to answer some questions about himself and his work. By Derek Laskie[/alert_box] As a Florida teenager from the swamps Michael Traylor played in the rock group “Purple Passion” which released two “regionally popular” singles on Atlanta’s Vevour label in 1969 and recorded an unreleased album in Nashville in 1971. He studied classical composition and theory at Chipola College and Florida State where he became interested in different types of 20th century composers. It was at this time that he first became aware of Captain Beefheart. During hisRead More →

Fuzzy Fuscaldo – guitar Ty Grimes – drums Dean Smith – guitar Michael ‘Bucky’ Smotherman – keyboards; vocals Del Simmons – saxophone; flute Paul Uhrig – bass When the Magic Band decided they’d had enough and left Don high and dry in March 1974 (or, according to another version of the story, were fired by Don) just weeks away from a US and European tour I doubt they realised who would take their place (not that they particularly cared!). Brothers, Andy and Augie DiMartino, were managing Don and pushing him (albeit willingly) into a more commercial style of music. But, give them their due, atRead More →

Moris met Don sometime in 1974 when he was still an art student. He was asked to join the Magic Band on guitar in 1976 and went straight into recording ‘Bat Chain Puller’ (which has yet to be legitimately released). He then stayed in the band until 1982 (working with four different second guitarist) which makes him one of the longest serving (without a break) Magic Band members. Since the demise of the Magic Band Moris Tepper has divided his time between music and painting. Apart from working in the studio and on stage with Tom Waits and Frank Black he has found time toRead More →

Turned onto Don’s music by his friend and long time bandmate, Ace Farren Ford, Rick became a devoted fan and doggedly learned to play these intricate songs. In the band Ace & Duce he was able to incorporate versions of some Beefheart songs into the free jazz workouts that made up their repertoire. In the late ’70s he played in a power-pop band called The Shake Shakes but quit them when he successfully auditioned as guitarist in the Magic Band on the ‘Doc At The Radar Station’ tour. John French had played guitar on that album but wasn’t interested in touring as a guitarist. ForRead More →

Alex was a fine slide, lead and rhythm guitarist. He could also play drums and trumpet. In the mid to late 1950s he hung out with Frank Zappa and played in an R&B group called The Omens. In 1964 he pulled together the musicians that would become Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band. To all intents and purposes Alex was the original ‘Captain’! It was his determination, organisation and leadership that made this an exciting blues band. But as time went on Don took control of the band and grew into the persona of Captain Beefheart marginalising Alex’s influence. Alex quit the band in 1968Read More →

It was with great sadness that I heard Alex had died from a massive heart attack. He was 64. One of the original Magic Band guitarists, Alex can justifiably be known as the original ‘Captain Beefheart’, being the prime mover to get the band together and the musical director and organiser in the early days. In an interview in 1973 Don was asked how it all started and he had this to say:- Alex St. Claire called me – you know, the fellow who was on ‘Safe As Milk’. He had a great influence on Jimi Hendrix when he was in England. Anyway, he callsRead More →

Rising Sons were a band that included Ry Cooder, Gary Marker, Taj Mahal, Kevin Kelley and Jesse Lee Kincaid. Their various 1964-66 recordings for CBS were never released. As a live band they drew the attention of Don Vliet who berated Doug Moon saying he should play slide like Ry Cooder. The 20 year old Cooder played slide and bass on the Safe As Milk album as well as arranging several songs most notably ‘Grown So Ugly’. Taj Mahal played percussion on ‘Yellow Brick Road’. Gary ‘Magic’ Marker was involved in the early production work on Safe As Milk, as well as playing occasional bassRead More →

Richard Redus, known as Rick, was friends with Eric Drew Feldman and Jeff Moris Tepper in Portola Junior High in Tarzana, CA and Taft High School in Woodland Hills, CA). So, it was somehow inevitable that when the Magic Band needed a new guitarist it was him that the other members of the band thought of. He joined the Magic Band in 1978 replacing Denny Walley on guitar. He also played accordion (as Denny had also done). He was from a ‘hippy’ background, his parents ran The Third Eye head shop on Ventura Boulevard, Encino. According to a former high school friend Rick was aRead More →

MU was a band formed by Jeff Cotton (aka Antennae Jimmy Semens) after he left the Magic Band in 1969. Cotton hooked up with friends Merrell Fankhauser, Larry Willey and Randy Wimer from his old band The Exiles. The band developed a subtle and mellow sound which was lifted above the average by Cotton’s fine slide work and some interesting rhythms. Their first single and debut album were released on very small labels and were not given the distribution and advertising they deserved. The band moved to Hawaii in 1973, Willey replaced by Jeff Parker on bass but the band fell apart the following yearRead More →

Denny King was yet another Lancaster based musician. This album of blues and boogie (which is well worth searching out) includes ex Magic Band members Alex St Claire (guitar, trumpet and production), and Doug Moon (harmonica), plus former Exiles drummer Greg Hampton. Alex St Claire also gets a co-writing credit on one song – “Desert Sand”. One of the tracks is the “Sure Nuff n Yes I Do”/”New Minglewood Blues” riff all over again. And some of the vocals have an occasional nod towards a Beefheartian growl. The song ‘Bessie Mae’ is an exact copy of the ”Tarotplane’ riff. Barry ‘Dr Demento’ Hansen wrote theRead More →

This was Jeff Cotton’s first band which he put together when he was only 14 with Merrell Fankhauser, who’d had several surf hits with The Impacts, and fellow high school friends Greg Hampton and Jim Ferguson. They recorded a number of songs, influenced by Buddy Holly and the British Invasion groups, that became hits locally during 1964 and 1965 but much of their output has not been released until the last few years. Although Cotton definitely played on many of earlier The Exiles tracks the band developed into an ever-changing collection of musicians centred around Fankhauser during 1966 and 1967 by which time Cotton hadRead More →

Often mis-spelt as Jerry, his first name is Gerald, so Gerry would the correct form. Only in the band for a matter of months Gerry McGee did have a significant impact on the future playing of the Magic Band. Coming from a country music background he played with a strong finger picking style using picks on fingers and thumb. He’d been doing session work (appearing on The Monkees first album) and playing in clubs around Hollywood. Gerry can’t recall how he came to be in the Magic Band, although it’s likely that he was called in by Bob Krasnow who knew him from session playing.Read More →

Cliff got the Magic Band job after Robert Williams had left the band to record a solo album. Unfortunately he only played on the Ice Cream For Crow album and appeared in the ICFC video before Don ended the band. In 1983 he joined the Red Hot Chili Peppers and recorded two albums before leaving in 1985 or 86. He has also played drums with Lydia Lunch, The Dickies and The Weirdos. He now makes a steady living composing film scores. Check out his website. A short piece with audio interview from September 2011 is available on the Film Music Magazine website Magic Band AlbumsRead More →

Already known as ‘Magic’, Gary hung out with Don Vliet when he was in Los Angeles in the early sixties. A bass player with jazz leanings (and he’s played with most of the well known names) he helped with Don’s musical education and played with the Magic Band on a number of occasions but was unwilling to kow tow to the large Beefheart ego on a regular basis. Gary was involved in the early production work on Safe As Milk. He stood in for Jerry Handley on bass at live shows during 1964-67 and joined the Magic Band for a short spell in 1968-69 (‘MoonlightRead More →

Magic Band Members: Mark Boston, John French, Bill Harkleroad, John Thomas, Art Tripp Is is a duck ? … is it a train? No, it’s the Magic Band after they left Beefheart in 1974. Bill Harkleroad (aka Zoot Horn Rollo) and bassist Mark Boston (aka Rockette Morton) decided to form their own band. John French joined on vocals and drums and John Thomas, who’d been with French in Rattlesnake & Eggs, played keyboards. Unfortunately only six demo songs were recorded with this line-up before French got the call to rejoin the Magic Band. Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson, a Magic Band fan and friend of MarkRead More →

From being a Beefheart fan Gary became Don’s manager along with his then wife, Ling. He occasionally performed on stage during the 1980/81 tours – reciting a poem (usually “One Man Sentence”, sometimes “Untitled”) or performing the solo guitar piece “Flavor Bud Living”. For the album “Ice Cream For Crow” he took up lead full-time alongside Moris Tepper while Rick Snyder moved to bass. Since the end of the Magic Band he has been very prolific in his own right, solo and within a band, releasing almost an album a year since 1991. His virtuoso solo live shows are awesome in the sounds he extractsRead More →