Blue Plaques & Media Dreams

Frank Freeman plaque

Frank Freeman’s Dancing Club in Kidderminster was one of the venues to which John Peel drove Captain Beefheart during his British tour in 1968. Recordings from this venue can be heard on the Grow Fins boxed set.

Get Your Kicks on the A456 by John Combe is a book about the venue and the acts which appeared there. It is available online only, in pdf format, from

In 2006 a blue plaque to Frank Freeman (pictured) was set up at the location of his club in Mill Street. Among those paying homage at the unveiling was Led Zeppelin front man Robert Plant, whose Band of Joy had been among the many groups to have played there.

Is Plant Potty?

Captain Beefheart is one of Robert Plant’s heroes, as I mentioned it here in November. The Sun newspaper this week carried their own story about Plant’s admiration for Captain Beefheart.

In his Bizarre column, Gordon Smart wrote that Robert Plant was drinking in a London bar when he publicly ridiculed the music being played there. Radiohead was “rhyming crap”, The Red Hot Chilli Peppers music was like “a nursery rhyme” and Plant demanded that Captain Beefheart be played instead.

This entirely understandable and reasonable request led The Sun to speculate whether Plant is potty. They described Captain Beefheart as a weirdo and suggested that Robert is losing the plot. You can read the full story, and comment on it, at The Sun’s website.

Secrets & Lies of 30 Rock

Another mainstream media reference to Captain Beefheart occurred recently on contemporary prime-time American TV. It happened 9:48 into Secrets & Lies (episode 208) of the series 30 Rock. Those unable to see the event at this NBC link can read a review of sorts at Best Week Ever TV .

Mastermind, the actor and Captain Beefheart

BBC television’s popular quiz show, Mastermind, broadcast a celebrity edition on New Year’s Eve. Paul Bradley, the television actor, faced a number of questions about Captain Beefheart and performed very creditably.

If you would like to pit your wits against the Mastermind quizmaster, you have two minutes to answer these questions about Captain Beefheart……..starting NOW.

1) Name of the projected film where the name Captain Beefheart originated.
2) Name of Beefheart’s school chum from Lancaster, Calif.
3) Location of Blue Coat gallery where his first UK art exhibition took place.
4) Name he gave to Elliot Ingber when he joined The Magic Band
5) Name of album with string and paper design.
6) Name of songwriter of ‘Moonchild’
7) German Airport where they were diverted when refused entry to the UK
8) Name of album where the Blackberries sang backup
9) Name of guitarist who left band before Monterey
10) Beatles song mentioned in Beatle Bones and Smokin’ Stones
11) Song which Muddy Waters claimed was ripped off from him
12) Pop festival where Beefheart appeared in 1975 (careful!)
13) Instrument on which Beefheart composed Trout Mask Replica
14) Name of band who left Beefheart in 1974.
15) Projected first name of album with string and paper design.
16) Dedicatee of one album (not too sure of this question)
17) Song in which he sings ‘Gimme dat ol’ time religion’

Thanks to Fireparty member Mike Godwin for noting and paraphrasing these questions during the broadcast.

What Mariah Carey, Minnie Riperton and Captain Beefheart have in common

The New Straits Times carried a report about singer Kat de Luna which included a most remarkable assertion. Students of the enduring powers of mythology read on.

“I am different,” she said.

“I have integrated opera with R&B, hip hop and latin sounds,” said the singer who has a five-octave vocal range, a quality found in vocalists like Mariah Carey, Minnie Riperton and Captain Beefheart.

Recent videos & mp3s

Greg ‘Ella Guru’ Davidson performs I Told You So and Fat Back on YouTube. Steve Froy’s interview with Greg is at Frog’s Eye.

The completion of Matt leGroulx’s version of Alice in Blunderland, with Henry Kaiser on guitar, marks the end to his Captain Beefheart Project. All six completed Captain Beefheart tracks, known collectively as Baboons, Rhinos, Fools ‘n Buffoons, can be heard at Matt’s MySpace page.

Also at MySpace, something called Beef Jerky by Mokum and Yooper. You be the judge.

This last snippet, of a May 1968 Captain Beefheart performance in Rome, is by the same Magic Band line-up who performed at Frank Freeman’s Dancing School. If anyone has any photographs of this band, in performance or elsewhere, taken between about August 1967 and June 1968, please contact me urgently.

Petition to the Zappa Family Trust

“We the undersigned petition the Zappa Family Trust (ZFT) to cease and desist from making threats of legal action against FZ tribute bands, FZ fan sites, Zappa music festivals and other related activities…………………………………………”

The full text of the petition can be read here:


  1. wow. quite an update. that beefheart quiz is a toughie. funny which ones I forget after all these years.

  2. I stumbled (fumbled ‘n’ swore) on questons 7 & 12. The Sun article on Percy was a hoot – though he wouldn’t get away with it at my local. ‘Head or the Peppers would be welcome relief amongst the aurul wallpaper of Mariah Carey, Gloria Estevan and gentrified rap.

  3. Mariah Carey, Minnie Riperton and Captain Beefheart do NOT have a five-octave vocal range. That’s equivalent to a 61-key keyboard. A piano has 7 octaves (and change).

    To give some perspective, “get a good job” from Zappa’s Bobby Brown is a few cents sharp of the C below the bass-clef staff, or C2 in midi-speak. Five octaves would put the high end at C8. C7 is the C above the treble staff. C8 is in the range of a piccolo.

    Moral: Don’t believe the hype.

    1. Beefheart’s range is more accurately 4 & 1/2. However 5 octaves IS correct for Mariah & Minnie, and this may be verified with sound-clips in several places on the web for those who care to look.
      Moral: Do some research and know what you’re talking about before you post false information and make an ass of yourself.

  4. It I always hear this 5-octave vocal range and I still don't believe it. The standard piano keys have 7 octaves and even getting to the 4th octave can be considered a feat!

    Thanks for allowing me to post.

  5. Wow that's quite good follow up information regarding on that beefheart stuff. Combining elements of free jazz, blues and rock, Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band produced what is commonly regarded by critics and fans as one of rock's few truly original bodies of work. That's awesome.

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