Author Recounts Friendship with Avant-garde Icon By Don R. Aldridge, December 2010 American pop music has lost an artist of enormous influence. Captain Beefheart, composer, singer, bandleader, and avant-garde musician who was perhaps one of rock’s greatest unheralded geniuses, died in a Northern California hospital, Friday. His death was attributed to complications due to multiple sclerosis. He was 69 years old. Born Don Glen Vliet, January 15, 1941, he became known to his worldwide fan base simply as Captain Beefheart. Of Dutch ancestry, the artist, who turned to painting after retiring from the stage in the 1980s, changed his surname to Van Vliet in the 1960s. I knew Don wellRead More →

by Don R. Aldridge, December 2010 Before I go into the details of my visit to Captain Beefheart’s home in Woodland Hills, early in 1969, I want to spend some time laying the background for the circumstances that brought about the visit in the first place. I hadn’t seen Don Van Vliet in a few months but I knew he was working on a project and that the moment probably wasn’t ripe for a visit. My instincts proved to be on target; in all of the years of our friendship, my visit to the Trout Mask Replica house on Ensenada Drive was the only time that I did notRead More →

by Don R. Aldridge, October 2010 In 1965, I walked into the world of Don Van Vliet, the man who would become renowned internationally as the avant-garde rock artist Captain Beefheart. What I did not realize at the time was that I would be a witness to the complete evolutionary process of both the man and the artist. My birth name is Don Aldridge and knew Don Van Vliet for twenty years. I still consider him my friend although we have not spoken in many years years. And I miss Don Van Vliet. I miss the esoteric banter and friendly discussions we had in the earliest days of CaptainRead More →

The Man Formerly Known as Captain Beefheart by Don R. Aldridge, September 2010 Stepping into the world of Captain Beefheart in 1965, was like walking through a portal into the Twilight Zone – everything was normal, to the extent anything is ever normal, and everything was strangely disjointed. Television sets had a way of finding themselves twisted into Technicolor snow, conversations could turn from blasé exchanges on politics or music, to Dadaistic rants or wordplays, and the most mundane objects became puppets for Don Van Vliet’s life production. My birth name is Don Aldridge, and I met Don Van Vliet, who would become better known asRead More →

The Transcendency of the Magic Band by Don R. Aldridge, August 2010 In the early, what I will call formative years, of Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band, Don Van Vliet would bounce ideas off me. I don’t believe for one moment, and didn’t even then, that he was seeking my advice, but I’m still not sure why he chose to share some of these revelatory thoughts with me. The best I can say, by way of analogy, is that my relationship with Don Van Vliet was something like Jim Morrison’s friendship with Danny Sugarman: for some reason I am still at a loss to explain, the guy tookRead More →

Frownland Gets a Face Lift by Don R. Aldridge, August 2010 Much has been written over the years about Don Van Vliet’s, relationship with his parents, and I remain uncertain as to whether any of us who actually witnessed it understood what we were witnessing. I’m tempted to title this article, Captain Beefheart: Live at the Delivery Room: Bake One. Because much of what I saw was classic Only Child Syndrome, if I may coin a phrase. (JAMA will pick this up and put it on Oprah, I’m sure). Interviews I’ve read with people who have witnessed an incident or two between Don and his mother, Sue,Read More →

by Don R. Aldridge, August 2010 Don Van Vliet, the man who was known for more than two decades as Captain Beefheart, always jealously guarded his privacy. Much has been made over the years about Don’s reclusiveness, but I’m not sure that would – at least during the Magic Band era – be an apt description. I don’t know of any time when I was not welcome at Don’s house or wherever he happened to be. I can’t recall being invited to any sessions, but he always made it clear to others that I was welcome. I was in all of the sessions at Sunset Sound, whenRead More →

What the Fans May Not Know by Don R. Aldridge, August 2010 In 1965, Don Vliet followed his boyhood chum Frank Zappa into the world of avant-garde rock ‘n’ roll with his group Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band. My birth name is Donald Aldridge, and I grew up in Lancaster, California, where Don and I became close friends in the mid sixties. He later changed his surname to Van Vliet. Don’s songs have appeared in several Hollywood movies and TV shows over the years, including The Big Lebowski, Things We Lost in the Fire, and Entourage. Some of the experiences revolving around my relationship with Captain Beefheart can be found in Mike BarnesRead More →

Looking Back at Captain Beefheart by Don R. Aldridge, July 2010 According to the half-dozen or so dedicated-to-the-point-of-delirium fan websites one surfs on the internet today, the bizarre 1960’s avant-garde rock icon Captain Beefheart is: a paranormal savant with a four-octave vocal range; a primitive artisan who didn’t attend a day of school after the age of five; a musical genius who slapped music on vinyl the way Jackson Pollock did paint to canvas. Captain Beefheart was born Don Glen Vliet on January 15, 1941, to Glen Alonzo and Willie Sue Vliet in Glendale, California. He attended public schools in Glendale and Mojave, California and Antelope ValleyRead More →

A look at the new book from Herb Bermann, Don’s co-writer on Safe As Milk. It’s not that long ago that many people thought that Herb Bermann was just another myth created by Don Van Vliet. Although he shared writing credits on eight songs on the Safe As Milk album, and, much later, one on Shiny Beast, he seemed to have disappeared off the radar. But the Radar Station kept looking for him … You can read about my and Derek Laskie’s search here. We were certain he was out there and Derek eventually managed to secure an exclusive interview with him for the RadarRead More →

Song List Side A Poofters Froth Wyoming Plans Ahead (200 Years Special) 3:10 George Duke’s Incredible Show (Improvisation) 5:50 Willie The Pimp 9:23 Side B The Torture Never Stops 14:40 Let’s Make The Water Turn Black 4:03 Overview Recorded live on the Bongo Fury Tour at the Boston Music Hall, Massachusetts on 27 April 1975 (Late Show). Only 5 of the 13 songs performed that evening are included on this single disc pressed on purple vinyl. At least Beefheart’s contribution is represented on here. Releases 2008 Germany Vinyl on Hedgehog Records  HDG 0020 Help us If anyone is able to complete or update any of the information above, then pleaseRead More →

Song List Disc 1 Improvisations Camarillo Brillo Muffin Man Let’s Make The Water Turn Black Penguin In Bondage Improvisation (Beefheart Instrumental Style) Debra Kadabra Band Introductions Poofter’s Froth Wyoming Plans Ahead Echidna’s Arf George Duke Improvisation Disc 2 The Torture Never Stops Marty’s Dance Song Montana Florentine Pogen Encore Break Willie The Pimp Overview Recorded on the Bongo Fury tour at the Music Hall, Boston, MA on 27th April 1975 – Late Show. Releases 2011 US 2CD on Guitar Master  GM-025/026 Help us If anyone is able to complete or update any of the information above, then please do get in touch.Read More →

Radar Station Overview Recorded during the Bongo Fury Tour at Boston Music Hall on 27th April 1975, except for tracks 11, 12 and 13 on the vinyl release which are from a different Mothers show. The vinyl version was released as a double but is usually found in separate deluxe covers. Volume 1 has a brown and white cover while Volume 2 has a red and white one. As can be seen the track listing on the CD version is slightly different (confusion over song titles aside) but it’s a pity ‘Willie The Pimp’ has been missed off. Song List Vinyl CD Intro – Varese Special A Token Of My ExtremeRead More →

Regular visitors to the old Radar Station will remember the fairly large bootleg section we had and have probably been wondering what happened to it. Well, it fell through the cracks during the move… I’ve been rummaging around and have redone all the information we used to have. I’ve updated it, added new entries and some new images. I’ve also created a new A-Z listing to make it easier for you to track down a particular item. All the Beefheart and the Zappa/Beefheart bootlegs are now listed in one place plus the section has been renamed “Unofficial releases” to include all those ‘grey area’ releases thatRead More →

Song List: Side A 1 Regyptian Strut 2 Sofa 3 Who Are The Brain Police? 4 Orange Claw Hammer Side B 1 200 Years Old 2 Willie The Pimp 3 Peon 4 Alice In Blunderland Side C 1 Revised Music For Guitar & Low-Budget Orchestra 2 A Pound For A Brown On The Bus Side D 1 Somebody In My Home 2 Almost Grown 3 Call On Me 4 Sure ‘Nuff & Yes I Do 5 Yellow Brick Road 6 Plastic Factory Radar Station Overview Although this is marketed as a Frank Zappa bootleg (with Captain Beefheart) there are quite a few Beefheart tracks here.Read More →

Song List Side One Montana Florentine Pogen Side Two Debra Kadabra Intros Poofter’s Froth Wyoming George Duke Spotlight (Don’t You Ever Wash That Thing?) Radar Station Overview From the Bongo Fury tour in 1975 this includes a few songs performed at the Boston Music Hall show. A single European (probably German) vinyl that has been re-pressed at least once with different covers. The label reads: “P.T. Schneider presents MUFFIN “LIVE” BAND” Can anyone explain the title of this release? Whose stupid idea was that? Definitely not one of the best! Thanks to Wol Stor for the cover scan Releases 1985 AL 01A/B clear vinyl with plain white sleeve withRead More →

Song list Disc 1 County Coliseum, El Paso, 23 May 1975 Introduction Improvisation Apostrophe Stinkfoot I`m Not Satisfied Carolina Hardcore Ecstasy Velvet Sunrise Pound for a Brown You`re So Fine/Lonely Lonely Nights Debra Kadabra Montana/Improvisations Disc 2 1. Advance Romance 2. Florentine Pogen Daigaku Seibu Kodo, Kyoto, Japan, 4th February 1976 Introduction Stinkfoot Dirty Love Filthy Habits How Could I Be Such A Fool? Ain’t Got No Heart I’m Not Satisfied Black Napkins Overview Another boot of the good quality El Paso Bongo Fury show, similar to the Bongo In Fury in El Paso release. Even less Beefheart involvement here. This time the filler isRead More →

Song list Disc 1 County Coliseum, El Paso, 23 May 1975 Presentation Bongo Fury Initial Apostrophe band introduction Stinkfoot I`m Not Satisfied Carolina Hard-core Ecstasy Velvet Sunrise A pound for a brown on the bus the medley Frank introduces El Paso son Jimmy Carl Black You`re So Fine Lonely Lonely Nights Debra Kadabra Montana Strange Things Disc 2 1. Advance Romance 2. Florentine Pogen Studio outtakes 3. 200 Years Old (studio outtake 1975) 4. Orange Claw Hammer (FZ & CB Radio Show 1975) 5. Redunzl (studio outtake) Music Hall, Boston 27 April 1975 6. Camarillo Brillo 7. Muffin Man 8. Let`s make the water turnRead More →

Song List Improvisations 5:46 Camarillo Brillo 4:29 Muffin Man 1:45 Stinkfoot 4:51 I’m Not Satisfied 2:06 Carolina Hard-Core Ecstasy 10:38 Velvet Sunrise 7:36 A Pound For A Brown 9:59 The Torture Never Stops 8:10 Montana 12:09 Improvisations (Inc. Chariot, Moon Trek) 9:39 Sam With The Showing Scalp Flat Top 2:35 Penguin In Bondage 11:41 Poofter’s Froth Wyoming Plans Ahead 3:18 Echidna’s Arf 0:36 Drum Solo 3:05 Advance Romance 15:16 Encore Applause 0:31 Willie The Pimp 8:43 Recorded at Providence College, Rhode Island on 26th April 1975. Notes From back cover: Childhood friends and fellow rock visionaries Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart put aside their differencesRead More →

Song List Disc 1 Improvisations Camarillo Brillo Muffin Man (Instrumental) Stinkfoot I’m Not Satisfied Carolina Hard-Core Ecstasy Velvet Sunrise A Pound For A Brown Why Doesn’t Someone Give Him A Pepsi? (Aka The Torture Never Stops) Disc 2 Montana Improvisations (Incl. Sam With The Showing Scalp Flat Top) Penguin In Bondage Poofter’s Froth Wyoming Plans Ahead Echidna’s Arf (Of You) Drums Advance Romance Willie The Pimp Recorded at Providence College, Rhode Island on 26th April 1975 Overview Good quality bootleg  from an original recording by Dan Lampinski from the Bongo Fury Tour. One of the better offerings from this tour with more Beefheart participation. The soundRead More →