BBC 6Music broadcast an archive interview last week from 1980, conducted by David Hepworth. Don was in bullish mood – not at his wittiest or most charming in my humble opinion, desperately asserting himself as a legitimate composer and artist and lashing out at those who he saw as a threat. Genius, without doubt, but not a very genial one on this occasion. Nevertheless, it’s classic Beefheart and Michael Alderson has very kindly, painstakingly transcribed the whole thing for you. Many thanks to him for his trouble, and to Marc Riley’s Mint for making the air-time to broadcast it. Incidentally, this week’s archive interview on
Today is Don Van Vliet’s 65th birthday. All of us here at beefheart.com would like to send Don our sincere congratulations and very best wishes. Today’s world of contemporary music would be a hollower place without him and, let’s face it, this website would be a whole lot less interesting too. Poet, artist, raconteur, visionary, musician, environmentalist, genius and booglariser extraordinaire, we salute you!
BBC radio’s 6Music will be airing an archived Don Van Vliet interview this weekend on Sunday 8th January on Marc Riley’s Mint. I don’t know yet which interview it is exactly, but you can listen live online at 10pm (GMT) or whenever you want to via the “listen again” facility for up to one week after broadcast. Many thanks to Simon Pardoe for the tip off. I usually try to listen to Marc Riley’s shows anyway as they are always entertaining and he is a big Beefheart fan. You might have to endure an occasional tune by Coldplay but there is always tonnes of good
The whole beefheart.com site is currently moving from one host to another. Everything will still be available exactly where you’re used to finding it here at beefheart.com (and beefheart.org too) but you may notice a few technical glitches as we settle into our new home and get everything working again behind the scenes. I will post a comment here when I’m sure everything is working again. In the meantime, thanks for your patience.
I recently received a message from John Drumbo French to update me on progress with his new recordings: So here Rockette and I are at Proper Record’s wonderful new studio recording my new CD “City of Refuge” which is basically a Magic Band influenced compilation of music I’ve put together over the last year and a half. I’m listening to Rockette put a bass line on a song called “Maybe That’ll Teach Ya” which is based loosely on a jam that was done by Don, Doug Moon, and myself. I used the Moon riff and Don’s line “Maybe That’ll Teach Ya” and wrote a whole
Zoot Horn Rollo passes comment on the 25th anniversary of John Lennon’s murder by an idiot in Oregon’s Register Guard paper: Local guitar teacher Bill Harkleroad, named one of Rolling Stone magazine’s “100 greatest guitarists” ever in 2003, admired Lennon more for his social and political views, for taking “risks to say what he thought,” than for his musical legacy. Harkleroad, better known as Zoot Horn Rollo when he played guitar for Captain Beefheart & the Magic Band more than three decades ago, said Lennon and U2’s Bono are among the few rock legends who had the ability to use their fame that way. “Imagine
Foma Skilliton kindly alerted me to a website selling a small range of Beefheart t-shirts. I have no idea about the quality nor the legitimacy of the images (photographer’s royalties?) but since this is one of the most frequent questions I get asked I thought I’d pass along the info. The pictures on the site are quite poor quality, so please be warned. There are sharp images of the shirts themselves but they are very pixelated around the actual print on the shirt, looking like the image has just been superimposed over an image of a shirt. If you are tempted you can check them
I was recently sent a photograph of a Beefheart-related Cal Schenkel art work by Peter Warner who was sent the photo by Schenkel himself in 1981. A much larger version is also available. Entitled “Apes Ma”, it was produced in January 1979 and, although labelled “10 in a series” the rest of the series is not Beefheart related (according to Peter a couple of the others are Zappa related and the rest… who knows?). The picture features (l-r) Don, unknown bearded person – possibly John Thomas, Jeff Moris Tepper, Denny Walley, John French and Apes Ma him/herself. Many thanks to Peter for sending this along
There are a good few items on the BBC website to help mark the first anniversary of John Peel’s death this week. Most notable are: A chance to hear John Peel’s first ever broadcast for BBC Radio 1 on Monday’s edition of 6 Music Plays It Again, further tributes follow on the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday editions featuring extended conversations with John Walters recorded in 1987 which are simply essential listening – many Beefheart references are included. Peel’s autobiography, Margrave of the Marshes, is Radio 4’s book of the week – you can listen to an abridged version online. Regrettably I couldn’t cope with what
I recently received a tip off from Colin B Morton about an item on PJ Harvey’s message board which features an unusual interpretation of a tune from Trout Mask Replica which is, apparently, racist. Any idea which song on TMR features prejudiced beliefs that one race is superior to others? Have a look at the posts from “pollyfan” on the PJ Harvey message board to find out. I think someone is a little confused… [sadly, “pollyfan” has since removed the text of all his / her posts but you can still get a gist of sorts from the responses]
This issue of Mojo (November) has a buyers’ guide for Captain Beefheart featuring a readers’ top ten of all his albums: Trout Mask Replica Clear Spot/Spotlight Kid Lick My Decals Off Baby Doc at the Radar Station Dust Blows Forward (compilation) Strictly Personal Safe As Milk Grow Fins (compilation of unreleased gems) Shiny Beast Mirror Man Safe As Milk would appear higher than that in my top 10 of any albums, not just Beefheart, and I’m surprised at the poor showing of Shiny Beast, another firm favourite of mine. This is something which Warner Brothers/Rhino should take note of: people would like to be able
One of my favourite labels, Revenant Records who released the “Grow Fins” treasure trove of unreleased Beefheart, released the second volume in their “American Primitive” series this week. Vol 1 was a stunning collection of gnarly pre-war gospel. Volume 2 features pre-war blues, hillbilly and jazz. Reuters have a nice feature on it. Should the fancy take you, you can also read my piece about Revenant Records from our John Fahey tribute.
I’ve just stumbled across an excellent, in depth and lengthy article about what many would consider a holy trinity – John Peel, John Walters and Captain Beefheart by Kris Needs. Needs shows how their three stories are intertwined with each other, while also paying tribute to each. There are stories in here which I don’t remember ever reading before such as Don accidentally “branding” his mother and Joe Strummer commenting on his first encounter with Trout Mask Replica which he stated was “the moment I became a weirdo”. There are a lot of factual inaccuracies but who cares, it’s all from the heart.
BBC Radio 7 has just broadcast an excellent 3 hour John Peel memoir and tribute in which Peel talks extensively about his life, influences, passions and family. We also hear an episode of Home Truths and his son’s eulogy at Peel’s funeral last year. It is a wonderful 3 hours for those of us who continue to miss his voice, humour and character on a daily basis and I’d heartily recommend you give it a listen on the BBC site while you can. Peel’s voice has also been cropping up regularly in the BBC Radio 3 show of his friend and colleague, Andy Kershaw. Listeners
The New Haven Advocate reviews the appearance at the Zappanale festival in Germany of Doctor Dark. Doctor Dark are notable not only for being a Captain Beefheart tribute band, but also, apparently, for featuring “the only person in [New Haven’s] history to run for mayor in drag” in their line-up. The same paper also interviewed Doctor Dark in late 2003 about their previous appearance at Zappanale.
A Mongolian “throat-singing heavy rock band”, Yat-kha, have released an album of cover versions featuring Captain Beefheart’s “Her Eyes Are A Blue Million Miles”, along with tunes by Joy Division, Bob Marley, Kraftwerk and Hank Williams. A recent article in The Independent newspaper said: Kuvezin’s growling vocal harmonics emerge from his deepest regions, resonating around the changing shape of his mouth-cavity. In the case of Captain Beefheart’s number, this is not too far removed from its original practitioner’s approach, but these techniques sound quite startling when imposed on the likes of “Man Machine” and “When The Levee Breaks”. You can hear a couple of mp3s
I’m sure many visitors will already have heard of the sad passing of Dr Robert Moog, inventor of the MiniMoog synth. As with so many great innovators, there’s a Beefheart connection to be made. In a 1980 interview with John Piccarella Don Van Vliet was asked about the process of teaching his music to his band and he replied: You can do it on the piano… you can do it on guitar some times.. Sometimes on the Mellotron.. Sometimes on the Moog. I like MiniMoog, I think that’s a real sensitive instrument. Also in 1980, this time to Lester Bangs, Don said he recorded his
I’ve always tried to avoid taking a train-spotter approach with this site over the years (not that you would think it from my blog entries) – it would be an easy road to travel with an artist like Captain Beefheart who seems to attract obsessive detail-noters. However, we at beefheart.com are endlessly amused by the frequency that Captain Beefheart rolls of the tongue of musicians and journalists, some using it to gain reflected credibility, others to provide an all-too-easy frame of reference, instant but ultimately meaningless. Others, of course, just love him too. In the absence of any real Beefheart-related news, here are just a
A friend started off a blog a while ago featuring a gallery of his doodles and abstract photographs, entitled Elbow Room. I used to work with Norms, the author, and witnessed the creation of his “biro on lined paper” works first-hand during many otherwise uninteresting meetings in the council offices. Like a visual equivalent of Robyn Hitchcock’s most surreal songs, they offer a pleasing and often hilarious idle browse. Norms is a Beefheart admirer and consequently a Beefheart theme has crept into a few of them. Check out Sea of Negativity, What A Moon Can Do II, No H On My Faucet, Devil’s Red Wife,
I’ve recently received news of an exhibition which has just opened in Glendale, California, featuring the original artwork from Captain Beefheart’s Strictly Personal album cover Revolutions, a ground-breaking free exhibit that features the artists behind the images synonymous with identifying the pop culture of the 60s and into the new Millennium, opens July 31st at the Forest Lawn Museum in Glendale. Showing never-before-seen art and original creations, from photographs to posters, original artwork used for albums and CDs, magazine art and drawings, the exhibit showcases artists who created visually beautiful and thought-provoking work cherished by the world’s musical icons. This unique exhibit is a reflection