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 onRead More →

Here is a cover scan of the forthcoming documentary DVD Captain Beefheart Under Review which is in the final editing stage and will be available in March ’06, on the Chrome Dreams record label. The film traces Beefheart’s entire career and uses rare footage and contributions from numerous Beefheart associates and Magic Band members. Contributors include John French, Mark Boston, Moris Tepper, Elliot Ingber, Ira Ingber, Jerry Handley, Doug Moon, Eric Drew Feldman, Gary Marker and Gary Lucas.Read More →

Michael Traylor, the Magic Band drummer, has sent a link to his new website. If, like me, you have difficulty opening http://www.swampmonk.com/ then try this link instead http://www.swampmonk.com/home.html Check out his picture gallery for some photographs of The Magic Band on tour.   Update (Sept 2012): this site now seems to be defunctRead More →

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!Read More →

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.Read More →

BBC radio’s 6Music will be airing an archived Don Van Vliet interview this weekend on Sunday 8th January on Marc Riley’s Mint. I don’t know yet which interview it is exactly, but you can listen live online at 10pm (GMT) or whenever you want to via the “listen again” facility for up to one week after broadcast. Many thanks to Simon Pardoe for the tip off. I usually try to listen to Marc Riley’s shows anyway as they are always entertaining and he is a big Beefheart fan. You might have to endure an occasional tune by Coldplay but there is always tonnes of goodRead More →

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 IRead More →

The whole beefheart.com site is currently moving from one host to another. Everything will still be available exactly where you’re used to finding it here at beefheart.com (and beefheart.org too) but you may notice a few technical glitches as we settle into our new home and get everything working again behind the scenes. I will post a comment here when I’m sure everything is working again. In the meantime, thanks for your patience.Read More →

Back in October, Norm Wheeler wrote in with his notice of a Captain Beefheart film show which took place in Austin, Texas. Owing to some technical malfunction or other I did not receive his mail until very recently. Anyway, such is the Texan interest in Captain Beefheart that the same film show is being held again tonight at the same venue  so I thought it would be appropriate to let you read Norm’s mail as a sort of preview to tonight’s event. [wp_quote]Last night (2005-10-10) the 1997 BBC documentary The Artist Formerly Known as Captain Beefheart was shown at the “Alamo Drafthouse Downtown” in Austin,Read More →

The idiotbastard mailed to let me know that the January edition of Guitar and Bass magazine contains an article about Captain Beefheart. I have not yet seen this but I’ve been told by somebody else that the title is Secrets of Beefheart Songwriting. Just what secrets are revealed, I wonder?Read More →

Some previously overlooked performances by Don Van Vliet have recently been documented by Bill Lantz, one of the world’s foremost Zappa-ologists. In September 1975 The Abnuceals Emuukha Electric Orchestra was put together to present a series of orchestral pieces written by Frank Zappa. Michael Zearott was the conductor and Frank produced and recorded most of these shows. Forty musicians were assembled by Zappa with help from Earle Dumler and Mike Altschul. One of the orchestra members was Don Van Vliet who played soprano saxophone. If anyone has access to recordings from this project we’d be very interested to hear them. View the full story. ThanksRead More →

Kelly Shane and Woody Compton’s website Is This Tomorrow contains what they say is “The Finest in Contemporary Picto-Literature!” Their two part Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band strip condenses the entire history of the band into just twelve frames: Part one: Part two:Read More →

On Friday 6 January from 22:15 to 23:30 BBC Radio 3’s show Mixing It features alternative music in Los Angeles. The presenters Mark Russell and Robert Sandall meet film composer Jon Brion, hip hop producer Madlib, guitarist Nels Cline, sound artist Akira Rabelais, and drummer John French. You can listen to the programme at the Mixing It homepage for one week after the broadcast.Read More →

I recently received a message from John Drumbo French to update me on progress with his new recordings: So here Rockette and I are at Proper Record’s wonderful new studio recording my new CD “City of Refuge” which is basically a Magic Band influenced compilation of music I’ve put together over the last year and a half. I’m listening to Rockette put a bass line on a song called “Maybe That’ll Teach Ya” which is based loosely on a jam that was done by Don, Doug Moon, and myself. I used the Moon riff and Don’s line “Maybe That’ll Teach Ya” and wrote a wholeRead More →

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. “ImagineRead More →

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 MyRead More →

One year after the sale of a ‘Beep Seal’ sculpture on eBay, another work by Don Van Vliet’s childhood television co-star Agostinho Rodrigues has been sold there. The auction this time was for Rodrigues’ 1953 depiction of a horse, the winning bid being $375.00.Read More →

Hats were an important part of the appearance of Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band. There were probably dozens of hats worn on stage and in photo-shoots over the years. Don Van Vliet even named the guitarist Richard Snyder after a hat. The most famous hat, the one Don wore on the cover of Trout Mask Replica, was allegedly last seen in the possession of a Jethro Tull band member. Even today, Magic Band guitarist, Beefheart manager, and reader of Beefheart poetry, Gary Lucas, is rarely seen on stage without a hat. In a rare moment of bare-headedness Gary has agreed to donate his hatRead More →

Foma Skilliton kindly alerted me to a website selling a small range of Beefheart t-shirts. I have no idea about the quality nor the legitimacy of the images (photographer’s royalties?) but since this is one of the most frequent questions I get asked I thought I’d pass along the info. The pictures on the site are quite poor quality, so please be warned. There are sharp images of the shirts themselves but they are very pixelated around the actual print on the shirt, looking like the image has just been superimposed over an image of a shirt. If you are tempted you can check themRead More →

I’m looking forward to the DVD release next year of a new documentary about Captain Beefheart. A good number of Magic Band musicians were interviewed for it in London and America over the past couple of months, so it should be interesting to hear what they had to say. Captain Beefheart biographer Mike Barnes was among those taking part and he has kindly allowed me to reproduce a short account of his experience. This was originally posted at The Fire Party Discussion List. [wp_quote] I went to be interviewed by Prism Films for the upcoming Beefheart DVD documentary yesterday. We were in a freezing cold, desertedRead More →