John French and Ian McArthur at the Trout House

We received a mail from John French who recently went back to the house where Trout Mask Replica was created. I thought beefheart.com might be interested in a picture of Ian McArthur, my Scottish friend, and I up by the “Trout House” as I call it. We visited the place on February 3rd and as you can see, it was a beautiful day. The present owner was aware of the house’s history and kind enough to take this picture and send it to me. The house was built on the middle lot of three adjoining lots that was part of the original property. The presentRead More →

Mike Barnes sorts out U2 at Mojo: In the late 1990s, while researching my biography of Captain Beefheart, I was amused by accounts of when Bono tried to lure the Captain out of retirement in the early ’80s. With typical dismissiveness Beefheart would disingenuously ask friends: “Man, who is this Bongo?” Beefheart had become ill and a complete recluse, and my requests to speak to him were all declined. Hence my horror, in 2002, when I saw the cover of MOJO’s April issue proclaim: “Beefheart Speaks… To Bono.” Bongo’s part in the phone conversation felt contrived, over-verbose, as if he was trying to match Beefheart’sRead More →

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 soonRead More →

Beefheart Through The Eyes Of Magic by John French

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 handsRead More →

Vliet interview tape in Zappa archive

A video tour of Frank Zappa’s hoard of audio, film and video treasures has been made available at YouTube. Bearing a marked similarity to bonus material on the Frank Zappa – Classic Albums – Apostrophe And Over-Nite Sensation release, this tantalising tease of a film shows only the packaging and the formats of the recordings, not the contents. At about four minutes in, the presenter casually flicks his wrist to reveal a package apparently entitled Vliet Interview. Closer inspection however reveals that the word Vliet has been scored out, and in a seemingly different hand the word Interview has been inserted. Later in the filmRead More →

Trout Mask Replica sleeve photo

..the secret, really, to understanding, to dwelling within, Trout Mask Replica is to make sure it’s the first record you ever hear.. Marcello Carlin wrote some excellent music appreciation in his now defunct blog. He dealt with subjects from Laura Nyro to Gnarls Barkley, but what he wrote about Trout Mask Replica at The Church of Me in April 2006 will be of most interest here. ..Trout Mask Replica is really a set of hallucinatory nursery rhymes, thus “Ella Guru” and “Sweet Sweet Bulbs” and “Sugar ‘N Spikes” somersault their way through mathematical rods and make you want to slide down banisters and pass theRead More →

Jimmy Carl Black died this weekend. He was seventy years old. Art Tripp, one of the few other musicians to have played with both Captain Beefheart and Frank Zappa, sent the following message: I hardly know what to say about the demise of the great Jimmy Carl Black. I Emailed Roy Estrada that the world just won’t seem the same without The Indian. He was one of those rare guys who lit up the whole room when he walked in. When you met Jim you liked him; and he was your friend for life. Jim was basically a good ole Texas boy with a littleRead More →

Some time ago Barry’s Imaginary Publisher produced a poster to be used as a prop in the documentary film, Freak Out in Cugamonga. There is a short illustrated article about the making of the poster, Captain Beefheart vs. The Grunt People, at moonbug.org. Copies of the poster are now available from Cafe Press, priced at $19.99.Read More →

Gary Lucas and Don Van Vliet – I Have A Cat ‘I Have A Cat’, the broadcast of Don Van Vliet’s last lengthy interview in 1993, combined with Gary Lucas’ specially commissioned guitar score recorded earlier this year, will receive its world premiere on Wednesday, September 3rd, 10pm to midnight Dutch time, on NPS Radio 6. Also in Holland, in March 2009, will be Fast ‘N’ Bulbous, The Captain Beefheart Project, featuring Gary Lucas and Phillip Johnston. Two dates have so far been announced at Gary Lucas’ website, more are to be arranged. John French’s City of Refuge It was in 2005 that we firstRead More →

Alex Waterhouse-Hayward took this photograph of Don Van Vliet wearing a Harris Tweed jacket in Vancouver during the last days of the final Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band tour in January 1981. Two more of Alex’s photographs of Don can be seen at Alex’s website. I particularly like the concert shot which shows Don in eyeball to eyeball contact with a member of the audience who had had too much to think. Many thanks to Alex Waterhouse-Hayward for allowing us to reproduce his photograph here. Hot Head at the High School Talent Show A spirited rendition of Hot Head was recently performed at DaphneRead More →

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 http://www.kidderocks.com/. 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 BandRead More →

Don lights a candle

Everyone here at The Radar Station wishes Don Van Vliet a very happy birthday today. We hope that visitors to this website will join us in raising a glass of Green Chartreuse, or some other luxurious beverage, in honour of an artist who continues to astound and impress, even in his retirement. Many happy returns, Don Van Vliet.Read More →

Don is 66 today and so we would like to wish him felicitations, congratulations and commendations for many happy and healthy returns. All of us here at beefheart.com would like to express our thanks to Don for his great art which will never be forgotten as long as there’s a fly’s eye to see it with. Our smiles are most certainly stuck. If you need a soundtrack for your evening, there can be only one choice – break out the urine coloured lights and sing along to “Happy Birthday.”Read More →

I’ve received a note from Mike Bugbee who provided us with his excellent eye-witness account of Don and Jan’s wedding a few years ago. He’s got a book coming out soon (unrelated to the wedding) and Michael Bugbee is the author of a soon-to-be-published novel, Notes from Hotel Misterioso, from Mline Books. The official publication date is April 1, 2007, but beginning in January 2007 prepublication copies are available through www.mlinebooks.com, $14.95 U.S. or $17.95 Canadian plus shipping. Inquiries to: info@mlinebooks.com. If you haven’t read Mike’s wedding account yet, you really should – it is one of my very favourite items here on beefheart.com andRead More →

“Captain Beefheart is the shingle that gave me shingles,” complains Don Van Vliet in Lars Movin’s gentle evocation of Don’s life and circumstances since he became a full-time painter. “It makes me itch to think of myself as Captain Beefheart. I don’t even have a boat!” I don’t even have a boat – calling the Captain is a charming misty travelogue of the road leading to the place where Don Van Vliet has found himself as a painter, and the shoreline – land, sea and sky – which Don inhabits and describes. Waves lap, seabirds dry their wings, fishing boats bob and seals bask asRead More →

Film of Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band performing Diddy Wah Diddy and Who Do You Think You’re Fooling was broadcast on Dick Clark’s television show Where The Action Is on 24th May 1966. Shot on location at a Californian beach Captain Beefheart’s sexy glowering beatsters played their music to an audience of gyrating valley girls and boys. This film is a joy to watch, so now that it has been pulled from YouTube for being used without permission we can only hope that Dick Clark Productions, Inc., the copyright owners, have plans to let their film be more widely seen elsewhere. Film of CaptainRead More →

This photograph of Don Van Vliet meeting his old friend Pamela des Barres was taken at what must have been one of Don’s last public appearances. The occasion was the opening of Don’s exhibition at the Fred Hoffman Gallery, Santa Monica on 31 July 1990. There’s presently a unique chance to acquire a copy of this photograph, along with a catalogue from that exhibition, from the collection of Pamela des Barres herself. Pop over to eBay and read all about it. Pamela tells me that Victor Hayden, The Mascara Snake, is staying with her this week and will sign the catalogue for the winning bidder.Read More →

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

  The legendary house in which Trout Mask Replica was endlessly rehearsed is up for sale. For $849,900 you can own and (hopefully) preserve a property of considerable historical importance to all Beefheart fans. Why is it so important? This is the house where a poverty stricken Magic Band were kept under virtual house arrest while honing the impossibly intricate album Trout Mask Replica, and subjected to virtual brain washing sessions to “help” coax the unique music out of them. The music was written here; painstakingly transcribed by John French, taught to the band and many tracks on Trout Mask were even recorded here –Read More →

Danish author, film-maker and cultural commentator Lars Movin telephoned Don Van Vliet for a chat about his work with music and painting. An edited transcript of their conversation later appeared in a short-lived Danish magazine. It is this interview which is the source of Don’s much quoted line, “It makes me itch to think of myself as Captain Beefheart. I don’t even have a boat.” ‘I don’t even have a boat – Calling the Captain, 30.1.91’, a video notebook by Lars Movin, is to be premiered at the Cinematheque at The Danish Film Institute in Copenhagen on May 23rd. Filming took place in summer 2005Read More →