[alert_box type=”info”]In early / mid 2000 John French called on Radar Station visitors for some help writing his book, Beefheart: Through The Eyes Of Magic…[/alert_box] From: Robert Sent: Tuesday, January 11, 2000 6:16 AM John – do you guys now or then feel any kind of sense of lost opportunity playing in rock music? what I’m kind of saying is that the jazz players that played with the old greats like Parker and especially Miles Davis all went on to bigger and better things once they left/fired. I always thought there just didn’t seem to be anywhere else to go for the magic band members,Read More →

[alert_box type=”info”]In early / mid 2000 John French called on Radar Station visitors for some help writing his book, Beefheart: Through The Eyes Of Magic…[/alert_box] From: Joe Ashworth Sent: Tuesday, January 11, 2000 11:09 AM How did you create those incredible rhythms on TMR (Sugar n Spikes, Ant Man Bee, My Human Gets Me Blues, Frownland most notably) and what input did Don have exactly? Joe, Thanks for your questions. One song at a time: “Ant Man Bee”, this was totally a Don Van Vliet drum beat and the only one he ever actually played repeatedly on the set. I’m talking not only about theRead More →

In early / mid 2000 John French called on Radar Station visitors for some help writing his book, Beefheart: Through The Eyes Of Magic… From: Eric Clark Sent: Sunday, January 09, 2000 8:48 PM Greetings John, I have played a long time myself and respect what you do. Please talk about how the drum parts were developed. How much “freedom” you had within the framework of what you were given. And about the tuning of your drums, choice of cymbals etc. Were these things that you controlled or were others instrumental (oops and ouch for the pun) in directing the drumming and drum production. HowRead More →

[alert_box type=”info”]In early / mid 2000 John French called on Radar Station visitors for some help writing his book, Beefheart: Through The Eyes Of Magic…[/alert_box] Introduction by John French As I began to write my book, Beefheart: Through the Eyes of Magic, the question plaguing my mind was: “What do Beefheart fans really wish to know?” One and a half years ago, Graham Johnston was kind enough to accept questions on his website to supply me with the answer to that question. I found that the questions themselves, many answered in the book, deserved acknowledgement in their own right and so I suggested to GrahamRead More →

In 2000 John French, aka Drumbo, was writing his account of his time in the Magic Band, Beefheart: Through The Eyes Of Magic. The author called on Radar Station visitors to send him their questions and suggestions for the book, to ensure that he included the details that you wanted to know. Many of you responded to this appeal and John French passed on his sincere thanks. Many of the questions were of a very specific nature and couldn’t be easily covered in the format of a biographical book. Since they were also very interesting questions well worth addressing, John suggested that his answers couldRead More →

John French’s long-awaited exhaustive account of his time working with Don Van Vliet was published in 2010 by Proper Music Publishing. Purchase Buy the hardback from amazon.co.uk Buy the hardback from amazon.com Related items John French answered Radar Station visitors’ questions while writing the book – highly recommended reading! Press release from Proper Music Publishing Twelve page PDF of extracts and promotional material from Proper Music Publishing Trailer for the book by Elaine Shepherd Reviews The Radar Station’s review by Steve Froy The Fringe Magazine review Brief review in The Guardian Help us out If anyone is able to complete or update any of theRead More →

The ultimate book about Captain Beefheart written by the man who spent more time with him than most. Published in hardback. 880 pages, including 16 pages of amazing photographs, many published for the first time. Includes reminiscences from key members of The Magic Band and The Mothers Of Invention. Cover price £19.95. Out 11/01/2010. Distributed by Music Sales. ISBN 9780956121219 Few names carry such formidable mystique and rabid cult status as Captain Beefheart, who led various lineups of his Magic Band to make some of the most startling, ground-breaking albums of the last century. In 1982, he retired to concentrate on painting, leaving the mythologyRead More →

Many thanks to everyone who has provided information to piece together this set list, notably Gavin Baker, Benjamin Horrendous and Michael Godwin. Main show: Mark Boston (bass) solo: Hair Pie Bake 1 John French (drums), Gary Lucas (guitar), Denny Walley (guitar) and Mark Boston (bass): My Human Gets Me Blues Abba Zaba Hair Pie Bake 2 Steal Softly Through Snow Drum solo leading into On Tomorrow Gary Lucas (guitar) solo: Evening Bell John French (drums), Gary Lucas (guitar), Denny Walley (guitar), Mark Boston (bass): Alice In Blunderland I Wanna Fidn Me A Woman That’ll Hold My Big Toe Till I Have To Go Veterans’ DayRead More →

Many thanks to John French, drummer and (now) singer extraordinaire for sending along his thoughts about what it was like for Drumbo to perform Beefheart’s great songs for a wildly appreciative audience during the spring 2003 UK gigs. Memories of UK Trip The flight over was uneventful (thank heavens). I brought my wife Donna and daughter Jesse with me for this trip and drummer Robert Williams was on the same flight. We landed about 2:20 in the afternoon Monday 31st March and were met by Juan our tour manager and Barry. We were then driven in a large van to our hotel in London, aRead More →

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 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 →

[alert_box type=”info”]This review appeared in The Times on 10.04.2003[/alert_box] The Magic Band Shepherd’s Bush Empire ON PAPER this looked a suspect proposition: after all, who goes to see Eric Clapton’s band sans Eric? But Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band were always more than sidemen; these were players inducted into the secrets of the Captain’s musical universe during long rehearsals in which creative tensions could mean swinging fists. No musician sounded quite the same again. This five-piece line-up has briefly reconvened after encouragement from a longtime fan of the music, Matt Groening, creator of The Simpsons. And, with the Captain having changed careers 20 years ago toRead More →

To all the fans who showed up and offered support in our June/July tour – have a wonderful Christmas. Hope to see you next year. Part One: Amsterdam to Liverpool My wife Donna had tears in her eyes standing on the impersonal LAX sidewalk the morning I left. We’d never been separated this long before and we only had moments in the hustle and bustle to say a rather formal goodbye. I walked inside and took my place in the long line behind a tennis player from Germany who was going home to visit her family. We conversed about universities, sports training, and torn kneeRead More →

On 16 May 2006 the Magic Band made their first live television appearance for 25 years on Swedish TV4 television. Ralf Nygård of TV4 (also the cameraman at Camber Sands for the Magic Band’s concert there) helped make it happen and the Magic Band appeared on their breakfast show, no less. John French and Mark Boston were also interviewed although that is yet to appear on YouTube. Circumstances Steal Softly Thru Snow Featuring John French, Denny Walley, Mark Boston, Gary Lucas and Michael Traylor.Read More →