Announcements that three of Don Van Vliet’s former associates are being honoured have recently been made.
Mo Ostin, former head of Warner, is cited by the President of The Recording Academy as, “a true pioneer of the contemporary music era whose life’s work has had a profound impact on the artists he has helped develop and the fans around the world who have benefited from their inspired creativity.” One of these artists was Captain Beefheart and many people believe that Captain Beefheart’s best work was indeed done during his Warner-Reprise tenure. On February 8th, after the 48th Annual GRAMMY Awards, Mo will be presented with the President’s Merit Award in honour of his contribution to the landscape of modern music.
On March 13th The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will induct Herb Alpert & Jerry Moss in the Lifetime Achievement Award in the Non-Performer category. It was A&M who first signed Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band and who released the two singles, Diddy Wah Diddy and Moonchild. It was also A&M who wanted nothing to do with Safe As Milk. On hearing the demo tapes Jerry Moss reportedly showed Don Van Vliet the door, saying, “It sounds like a movement.” Don’s version was that Moss had said that Electricity sounded too negative, which was a much more bankable quip. Jerry Moss is now a successful racehorse owner whose horse Giacomo won The Kentucky Derby in 2005.
Gary Lucas is the proud composer and performer of two of the cuts on Jeff Buckley’s album Grace, which readers of Q magazine have just voted 13th Greatest Album Ever. Jeff was the former singer in Gary’s band Gods and Monsters, and according to Gary was a big Beefheart fan. His father Tim Buckley had been managed by Herb Cohen, as had Don. No Captain Beefheart record was voted into the 100 Greatest Albums Ever, which makes me wonder just where these Q readers have been all their lives.
Don Van Vliet has not yet received a record industry award.