Kristine McKenna is an American music journalist who has written for Wet, NME, Rolling Stone, Vanity Fair, The New York Times, The Washington Post and many other publications. Over the years she has often written about Don, having interviewed him a number of times she was trusted by him and became a friend of his. In 1987 she had Don take part in a phone-in programme with her on her late night KCRW show. Some of this show is included in ‘Electricity: Conversations With Captain Beefheart’ available as part of KCRW’s ‘Lost Tapes’ series. In this Kristine talks about her encounters with Don and alsoRead More →

This is an interesting documentary release – From Straight to Bizarre: Zappa, Beefheart, Alice Cooper and LA’s Lunatic Fringe. It comes from Chrome Dreams who you may remember from the Captain Beefheart: Under Review DVD. The dvd documents Zappa’s attempt to control his recordings by setting up his own labels, Straight and Bizarre – while at the same time releasing music from LA’s freak scene which would otherwise have never made it to vinyl. Although it mentions all the albums released it concentrates on those by Alice Cooper, The GTOs, Wild Man Fischer, Jeff Simmons and, of course, our man Captain Beefheart. So for Beefheart fans thereRead More →

Don Van Vliet died one year ago today. As much as we miss knowing he’s out there in person, his music and art are as alive as ever: The Magic Band have just concluded a triumphant UK tour (view the entire Nottingham show on YouTube and don’t miss Tony Fisher’s great photos), with more dates promised for next year and a new live release of a 2005 show out now. Gary Lucas continues to roll out his acclaimed Beefheart Symposia around the world (next up: Liverpool in January). Records continue to be released, reissued, remastered and rumours about an Original Bat Chain Puller release are notRead More →

Here’s a treat … Gary ‘Magic’ Marker features in the latest issue of TimeMazine talking about his time with the Rising Sons, the Magic Band and Fusion as well as about the Don he knew. Gary is a great raconteur and writer so this is well worth checking out. If you haven’t come across TimeMazine before it describes itself as a Psychedelic fanzine about the 60s and Beyond ’em. It comes out annually and this is issue #6 with 88 pages, a 14 track CD compilation and a vinyl 7″ (for the first 800 copies). Other contents include Barry Melton from Country Joe and theRead More →

The Radar Station is sad to hear of the passing of Gary Jaye in Roxboro, North Carolina. Our thoughts are with his family and friends Gary was the drummer with the Magic Band during 1976 and 1977. In his book John French recalls seeing Gary play at the Troubadour in 1976: [wp_quote]I was really impressed with [his] mastery of the beats and thought he was a great player.[/wp_quote]Read More →

Still of the Trout House from The Artist Formerly Known As Captain Beefheart

The Woodland Hills house on Ensenada Drive was the venue for the Magic Band’s endless rehearsals of Trout Mask Replica, and also where the Trout Mask Sessions on Grow Fins were recorded. Its inclusion at the Radar Station is a must! So many legendary stories surround this magical-looking building, which appeared to have been left to decay. Then in 2006 it was put up for sale, and in 2010 as well. Angel’s photographs of her & Chris’ trip to the Trout House John French’s response to these photographs … Stills of the Trout House from The Artist Formerly Known As Captain Beefheart See also: ConfluenceRead More →

It took a while for the main music mags to react to Don’s death because of their advanced editorial deadlines. Here are some of them that have produced tributes of significance: Record Collector #385 February 2011 In their ‘Not forgotten’ obituary section Kris Needs (former Zigzag editor) has written a very good piece. It is only one page but it packs a lot in The Word #96 February 2011 An eight page spread, ‘A fish out of water’, that has some good points with Mark Ellen looking at his art as well as his music but also disappoints (the David Hepworth piece) by perpetuating aRead More →

While touring in the UK in 1975, there was a concert we played in a medium sized hall somewhere lost in time, where a bus brought in a group of about 16 wheelchair-bound individuals.  After the concert ended, we were headed for our bus when Don stopped and watched as the handicapped individuals were tediously loaded one by one onto their bus.  Our bus driver, a bit impatient, called out that we could go, but Don refused to budge.  “I’m not leaving until they do.  They had the patience to go through all this trouble to come see me, and I’m going to show themRead More →

Anton Corbijn portrait of Don Van Vliet

We were very sorry to learn that Don Van Vliet passed away on Friday 17 December 2010 due to complications arising from multiple sclerosis. Tributes from friends, Magic Band members and fans have come thick and fast. Here are a few of them on beefheart.com and beyond: Steve’s initial beefheart.com post: Don Van Vliet 1941-2010 including many of your tributes My beefheart.com post: Don Van Vliet 1941-2010 including many of your tributes Art Tripp’s tribute to Don Bill Harkleroad’s tribute to Don John French’s tribute to Don – an absolutely lovely read, not to be missed Gary Lucas’s tribute to Don from The Wall StreetRead More →

My friend Art Tripp nailed it head to toe and I just can’t say it any better. Time erased all the injustices and I am left with all the incredible lessons learned. Such a rare and tremendously creative talent. I have to say it has taken me many years to recognize how truly rare a person he was. You have to be here awhile, or at least I did, to know Don Vliet’s don’t just happen. Don’s gone but look what he left us. Don’s gone and we’re next. Bill Harkleroad 19 December 2010Read More →

In 1984 Don and I had renewed our friendship for many years in north California after we’d both left the music biz. Our homes were only about a mile apart. He came to my office periodically for chiropractic treatment, and we’d also get together frequently just for laughs. In the late 1980’s he seemed to be developing some neurological symptoms which were resistant to cure from chiropractic adjustments. I told Don and Jan that he needed a consultation with a neurologist. He refused to go, and Jan was unable to convince him. Around 1992 he and I had a falling out. As a result, IRead More →

Don’s gallery have announced that he died today. I’d like to offer my sincere condolences to his family, friends and especially his wife Jan. We will miss you greatly, Don. Into the sun in my glider There’s a shadow beside her Up ‘n’ down through the blues Clouds give me my silent cues I’m up in my glider With a shadow beside her It begins to rain on her window pain Up in my glider There’s no shadow beside her Thundering ‘n’ lightning Gettin’ pretty frightenin’ I feel like an outsider Then the sun shows through ‘n’ right on cue There’s a shadow beside herRead More →

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 viewRead More →

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 –Read More →

Trout House detail

Charlie Rosenkranz, the current owner of the Woodland Hills “Trout House” where the Magic Band lived and conceived Trout Mask Replica, emailed me today to say the house is on the market again. You can see the seller’s info online and it has some great interior shots which I’ve never seen before. My favourite is this detail of one of the doors: If you have a spare $325,000 and your enthusiasm for Trout Mask Replica knows no bounds, this would be an unbeatable bit of memorabilia. Charlie writes: It’s up for sale.  I injured myself several months ago and haven’t been able to work orRead More →

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 byRead More →

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 numberRead More →

Head of No. 6 Records Terry Tolkin recollected Captain Beefheart and Bob Krasnow in an interview with Warped Reality Magazine. Talking of gaps in the No.6 catalogue Tolkin said: The last one was a Captain Beefheart EP called Hoboism, a fantastic track left over from the Bat Chain Puller sessions. I had become quite friendly with Don Van Vliet through my years at Rough Trade and then especially Elektra. Elektra’s CEO was Bob Krasnow, the last of the great 1960’s A&R guys to run a major label……..I went out to Don’s house in Eureka, California. Kras had produced Beefheart’s Safe As Milk LP and thenRead More →