We’re very saddened to hear that Don has passed away. He has succumbed to complications with the multiple sclerosis that he’s been suffering with for many years. Our thoughts go out to Jan. The world has lost a unique individual. Update: 11am 19/12/2010 I have been too upset to write much as yet so have just been watching all the wonderful tributes coming into our blog here and elsewhere across the web. I do hope Don, and Jan, were aware of the great love and respect in which they are held. Don’s music has been my companion since 1967. Safe As Milk changed my view
Gary Lucas is bringing his Beefheart Symposium to Los Angeles two days before Don’s 70th birthday. During the symposium Gary will show rare footage of the band live, play unreleased tracks, and project slides of Don’s paintings and drawings, discuss the history of the group and many of the great musicians who came through the ranks of The Magic Band, and also illustrate Don’s quirky and idiosyncratic methodologies and techniques on his guitar. So at 8pm, 13 January 2011 try to join Gary and ‘special guests’ at The Echoplex 1154 Glendale Boulevard Los Angeles 90026 Tickets: Seating – $15 adv; $17 dos / Standing –
The UK music magazine, Mojo, has recently published a 140+ page Frank Zappa special in their ‘Ultimate Collectors Edition’ series. Well worth checking out this has several pages about Don and Frank’s relationship including new interviews with Gary Lucas and Art Tripp. If you’re looking for an unusual Zappa/Beefheart related Christmas present then look no further. Check out the Frank and Don finger puppets. However, if you have a bit more cash to splurge then how about the ultimate Christmas present … one of Don’s original oil paintings! Apparently the Michael Werner Gallery in New York have ‘Black Doily‘ for sale at 40,000USD. This 1992
Michael Traylor, who shared the drum stool with John French during the recent Magic Band reunion tours, is featured in the latest issue of the US-based Classic Drummer Magazine. In an article entitled Artistic Adventurer Michael discusses the contrasting sytles of playing Beefheart Music with the Magic Band and playing with pop/rocker Tommy Tutone. Check the Classic Drummer website for more about the magazine.
Friday 17 September 7.30pm Transcender: Najma Akhtar & Gary Lucas + Parvathy Baul Tickets £15/20 Produced by the Barbican Concert at LSO St Luke’s, 161 Old Street London EC1V 9NG Two very different, but equally transporting, takes on Indian vocal traditions. Najma Akhtar’s music-making springs from a love affair with the Ghazal tradition of South Asian mystical poetry: here she teams up with legendary rock and blues guitarist Gary Lucas. Parvathy Baul is a young performer of ancient and hypnotic Baul songs. Akhtar has been at the forefront of the World Music scene for the last two decades. Born and raised in England she has
Film curator, writer and lecturer, Gerry Fialka, is interviewing John French as part of his ongoing series of MESS (Media Ecology Soul Salon) interviews: Echo Park Film Center 1200 N Alvarado St. (at Sunset Blvd.) Los Angeles Saturday 9 October 2010, starts 7pm Tickets: $5 The evening begins with a showing of the Crows Milk documentary about the Magic Band reunion. At 8pm Gerry will be talking to John French. This will be followed by the showing of the film of the 2003 Shepherds Bush show plus some of John’s home movies of Don. John will also be signing copies of his book. Sounds like
Here are some golden birdies, bits, bobs and doodads for your delectation: Moris Tepper has a new CD out called A Singer Called Shotgun Throat, a title suggested by Don apparently. Full details can be found on Moris’s website. For those manic collectors out there I’ve been trying to document all the Beefheart titles available as flexi discs. These are strange releases emanating from Russia and Poland. Check out what I’ve found so far on this Russian flexi discs page. If you’ve got others please let me know. YouTube continues to be a great source for hearing attempts at Beefheart covers. Here’s a selection of
Here’s a treat if you can make it to: The Magic Room Gallery 155 North Beacon Street, Brighton, Massachusetts 02135 On Friday 10 September 2010 – 8pm until 11.30pm Tickets: $20 Gary Lucas will be presenting a Captain Beefheart Symposium where he will will give a lecture and musical demonstration devoted to his mentor and childhood hero Don Van Vliet aka Captain Beefheart. This will involve Gary showing rare video footage of the man and the band, delve into his complex artistic oeuvre as both a composer — by performing some of his fiendishly difficult solo guitar compositions live — and as a painter by
In 2010 some interesting articles began appearing on the Yahoo Associated Content website under the byline of Grant O’Neill. As they seem to have gone missing, or just hard to find, the author has agreed for copies to be posted here at the Radar Station. Grant is a pseudonym for Don Aldridge a guy from Lancaster who knew Don and many of the Magic Band back in the sixties. I spoke to him many years ago and part of that interview was printed in the ‘Steal Softly Thru Snow’ fanzine. Don Aldridge is an American ASCAP songwriter, author and publisher who has worked with a number
Beefheart’s one-time manager, Herb Cohen, has died aged 77. Cohen was a larger than life character, a hard nosed businessman who seemed to have a penchant for obscure talent. Not only did he have Don on his roster but he also managed Zappa, Tim Buckley, the GTOs, Wild Man Fischer and Tom Waits. Unfortunately his relationship with Zappa soured and they fell out in 1976 amidst a nasty legal wrangle which left Cohen with the rights to many of the albums released on the Straight label. None of these albums have had a decent release on CD … Lick My Decals Off Baby still awaits
For all you collectors out there here’s a nice box set based around Freddy Bannister’s book. Freddy promoted many of Beefheart’s early 70’s tours as well as organising the famous Knebworth festivals. Apart from the book there’s some great Beefheart photographs, facsimilies of festival programmes and flyers … plus extra special bonuses of some prime Beefheart concerts. Find out more
Don walked/fell off the stage during the band’s performance at the Mt Tamalpais Fantasy Fair and Mountain Music Festival in 1967. This was supposed to have been a warm up for an appearance at the Monterey Festival but Don’s acid induced dive caused Ry Cooder to quit the band and their big opportunity to make a name for themselves was missed. Now, amazingly, some hitherto unknown photographs of the band’s (short) appearance have surfaced on YouTube. Sadly, Don’s dive isn’t captured in any of the shots, but they’re worth a look anyway. Thanks to Louis for the heads up on this. Update 12/03/2010: I’ve written
I have great respect for anyone who attempts to cover any of Beefheart’s songs. So what do you say when someone decides to cover a whole Beefheart album! Well, that’s just what Benjamin Horrendous has done. Singlehandedly, he’s (in his own words) ‘messed’ with each song from The Spotlight Kid to come up with his own vision of this great album. Find out more about it at Benjamin’s site.
The following press release about the publication of John’s long awaited book has just come to our notice: John “Drumbo” French: Beefheart: Through The Eyes Of Magic 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 January 2010 Few names carry such formidable mystique and rabid cult status as Captain Beefheart, who led various lineups of his Magic Band to
The graphic designer and photographer Tom Wilkes died on 28 June from a heart attack. He was 69. Most well known to Beefheart fans for his work on the Safe As Milk album he was involved in the design of many, many others. For more detailed obituaries check out the LA Times and the Independent. Thanks to ‘anonymous’ for the heads up about this sad news.
The Radar Station just been told that John French’s book is still on course for a Spring 2010 release … although the exact date has yet to be confirmed. However, what’s new is that Proper has decided that it’ll now publish Through the Eyes of Magic as ONE BIG book instead of the two volumes they had originally planned. This probably make more financial sense. It also means we’ll get the whole book without the danger of the second volume never seeing the light of day! They’ve also promised that no editing will be done to make it fit one volume … which is good
As you’re probably already aware the Radar Station has the largest collection of images of Don’s artwork on the web and we continue to add to it whenever we can. As we’re obsessives we don’t want to miss out on the other doodles and sketches of his that turn up all over the place so we’ve started trying to capture these all in one place too. Take a look at the Pictures, photos, bits & bobs page and check the Assorted sketches by Don section which includes a great piece of grafitti on a wall of the Armadillo as well as photos of Don displaying
Two of Beefheart’s earliest albums have been given the Japanese mini LP treatment. You can now get exact copies of the original Safe As Milk and Mirror Man vinyl albums but as compact discs. These are exquisite … you even get a mini version of the SAM bumper sticker and MM comes complete with the gatefold die-cut shattered mirror effect cover. Although the packaging replicates the original album the tracks on them are the remastered versions with the extra songs that were released in 1999.- so the sound quality is excellent. In fact, SAM sounds even better than the 1999 copy I have. These are