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 2005
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.
The second part of Derek Laskie’s interview with Herb Bermann, legendary writing partner of Don Van Vliet in the early days of the Magic Band is now available and is just as fascinating as part one. At one point Herb expresses his annoyance with something written about him in Mike Barnes’ biography of Don Van Vliet. I’m puzzled by his suggestion that Barnes should “do his homework” – I’d like to stress on the writer’s behalf that this is clearly a very well researched biography. Herb Bermann features only very briefly in the story which, despite his momentous contribution to one of my all time
The Radar Station is very proud to present the first part of an extensive telephone interview with Don Van Vliet’s early writing partner, Herb Bermann. This partnership has been such a mystery for the last four decades that many have postulated that he didn’t even exist. Herb Bermann would like to happily confirm that he does exist and has spoken exclusively to Derek Laskie about his work with Don Van Vliet. Herb’s interview reveals a wealth of previously unpublished detail about the early history of Captain Beefheart and may well be the most historically significant item yet on beefheart.com for those trying to unravel the
BBC 6Music broadcast an archive interview last week from 1980, conducted by David Hepworth. Don was in bullish mood – not at his wittiest or most charming in my humble opinion, desperately asserting himself as a legitimate composer and artist and lashing out at those who he saw as a threat. Genius, without doubt, but not a very genial one on this occasion. Nevertheless, it’s classic Beefheart and Michael Alderson has very kindly, painstakingly transcribed the whole thing for you. Many thanks to him for his trouble, and to Marc Riley’s Mint for making the air-time to broadcast it. Incidentally, this week’s archive interview on
Today is Don Van Vliet’s 65th birthday. All of us here at beefheart.com would like to send Don our sincere congratulations and very best wishes. Today’s world of contemporary music would be a hollower place without him and, let’s face it, this website would be a whole lot less interesting too. Poet, artist, raconteur, visionary, musician, environmentalist, genius and booglariser extraordinaire, we salute you!
John French sent us news of the death of Alex Snouffer, aka Alex St Claire, guitarist, drummer and a founder member of Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band. John wrote, “I talked with Jerry Handley, who was probably the closest to Alex. Jerry just lost his Dad and Alex was at the funeral a couple of weeks ago. We reminisced about the early bands that were the forerunners of the Magic Band. ” Steve Froy’s full obituary for Alex Snouffer was added to this site on 9 January.
After I’d posted Leon Rubenhold’s story about the time he played with Captain Beefheart (see the entry for 07 December here), Leon sent another mail detailing the first time he came across Don and The Magic Band. Here is what Leon wrote: [wp_quote]Thanks for posting my Beefheart experience story. Unfortunately there are no photos or tapes of the time spent with him. Actually my first encounter with Beefheart happened when I was sixteen. In Los Angeles in the 60’s there was an event held for a number of years called the Teenage Fair held in Hollywood at the Palladium on Sunset Blvd. In 1966 I
Zoot Horn Rollo passes comment on the 25th anniversary of John Lennon’s murder by an idiot in Oregon’s Register Guard paper: Local guitar teacher Bill Harkleroad, named one of Rolling Stone magazine’s “100 greatest guitarists” ever in 2003, admired Lennon more for his social and political views, for taking “risks to say what he thought,” than for his musical legacy. Harkleroad, better known as Zoot Horn Rollo when he played guitar for Captain Beefheart & the Magic Band more than three decades ago, said Lennon and U2’s Bono are among the few rock legends who had the ability to use their fame that way. “Imagine
An article by Gerry Fialka in Venice Paper caught my attention. It described a party held in the Canals at Venice, California to raise funds for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. In the band was, “Leon Rubenhold, who had played with Captain Beefheart and was ripping up guitar on stage.” Leon Rubenhold has had a long and distinguished career in the music business, including work with Lowell George, Wilson Pickett and The Four Tops, but this was the first I had read about him playing with Captain Beefheart. I wrote and asked him to tell me all about it. Leon’s reply follows: Beefheart Stint My
Anton Corbijn persuaded Don Van Vliet to remove his hat during the Ice Cream For Crow cover shoot. Corbijn later recalled that Don put it straight back on his head again. “My wife’s not gonna like this,” Don said. I don’t suppose that Jan minded too much. The resulting photograph became iconic and Don later made the short film Some Yo Yo Stuff together with Anton. Part of that film, plus an impressive selection of Corbijn’s music videos and other film work are to be released as a DVD on Tuesday 13th September. A 56 page book accompanies this Directors Label DVD from Palm Pictures.
I’ve just stumbled across an excellent, in depth and lengthy article about what many would consider a holy trinity – John Peel, John Walters and Captain Beefheart by Kris Needs. Needs shows how their three stories are intertwined with each other, while also paying tribute to each. There are stories in here which I don’t remember ever reading before such as Don accidentally “branding” his mother and Joe Strummer commenting on his first encounter with Trout Mask Replica which he stated was “the moment I became a weirdo”. There are a lot of factual inaccuracies but who cares, it’s all from the heart.
I received a very interesting series of messages a short while ago from Micheal Smotherman, one-time member of the “tragic” era Magic Band. This is what he had to say: As a card carrying former member of the Tragic Band, I would like to put straight a few things that have become gospel somehow, just for the hell of it. I know that it is difficult to fly in the face of legend, but for anyone interested in the truth, here goes. First of all, the original Magic Band (Zoot Horn Rollo, Drumbo, et.al) did not quit en-masse “a few days before an important tour.”
Frank Xavier Weyerich’s photo of two whiskery gents in convivial conversation will be familiar to anyone who has ever done an Image Search for Beefheart. Who, I wondered, is that other chap, and what was he talking about with Don? The website hosting the photograph (thank you Webster70.com) led me to an email address for somebody called Tom Ray. Ray, who is now owner of one of the largest independent record stores in the American Midwest – Vintage Vinyl – kindly wrote back with the details of his meeting with Don, correcting me on where it occurred. Yes, I had that pleasure back in the