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
I’m afraid we’ve had bad news about the publication of John French’s book. It’s now no longer going to be published this June. Proper Records have not taken the decision lightly. But as this was their first foray into the world of book publishing they have now realised that a book cannot be turned around as quickly as a CD and marketed effectively in that short time. Ultimately they want to do what’s best for John and his book … but it’s still a bummer none the less! The book’s now likely to be published next year. We’ll bring you news, of course, as soon
For several years here on the Radar Station we’ve been telling you that Drumbo has written a book about his time with the Magic Band called ‘Beefheart: Through The Eyes Of Magic’. It’s taken him a while to finish it and, at last, we can finally say there’s not much longer to wait. Proper Records (who released his recent solo album) have taken on the publication of this two volume masterpiece and plan to release Volume One on 1 June 2009. They’ve set up some ‘teaser’ pages and a few more teasers too. For more information … and a review (when we get are hands
Had an email from Grant who plays in a Canadian band called The Surfdusters, and does a radio show on CJSF Radio. This Tuesday, August the 14th, he’s doing a show of Captain Beefheart covers from various singles and compilations. It’s on CJSF from 5:00 to 7:00 PM, Pacific time – listen if you can. I’ll give it a listen if I can convert Pacific time to British Summer Time…
If you went to the 1972 Bickershaw festival you probably have great memories of it. There were some excellent bands playing and the Beefheart set was supposed to have been particularly inspiring. For years an audience recording of the performance has been circulating and despite it’s sound quality failings you can still hear that the band were on top form. This recording has now been released commercially by Ozit. What do we think of it … what do you think? Read the full review
The Michael Werner gallery in New York has an exhibition on at the moment called ‘Black and White: Drawings for Summer’. It opened on the 14 July and will finish on 9 September. The exhibition features about 20 artists including George Baselitz, A R Penck, and Joseph Beuys. There is at least one piece by Don van Vliet – ‘untitled’ (1999) and is pictured here. More information.
Moris Tepper was an artist before he joined the Magic Band, and he still continues to paint and sculpt as well as play music. For those of you who are within striking distance of Los Angeles you might think about dropping in to see his latest exhibition. It’s called “New Paintings and Sculptures of Moris Tepper”, and is at MJ Higgins Fine Art, Los Angeles from June 24th-August 5th, 2006 All this info and more can be found at Moris’s website.
Ozit have released another Beefheart 2CD set. This time it’s a recording of the last live show ever played by Don and the band – the 31st January 1981 show at the Golden Bear. As usual with Ozit an opportunity has been missed. Find more info in our bootleg section here – http://www.beefheart.com/datharp/albums/boots/captainslast.htm
Art Tripp has spoken exclusively to the Radar Station about his time in the Magic Band. From the astounding Lick My Decals Off Baby to the lacklustre Unconditionally Guaranteed, to the shortlived Mallard and his return for Shiny Beast Art offers a fascinating insight into the the recording of these albums and tells stories of life on the road and playing live. Read the full interview.