On the train on the way home from the Magic Band gig at Under The Bridge I was browsing through one of the free newspapers that can be found littering the carriages these days. I got to page 51 of the London Evening Standard and I did a double-take. There, under the ‘City Spy’ column was a photo of Don on stage from 1972. How bizarre is that? Was a fan on the paper desperate for an excuse to get a picture of Don in the paper? Is Tim Martin’s tongue well and truly stuck in his cheek?    Read More →

The September issues of two UK music mags will be of interest to Beefheart  fans: MOJO #226 features Mark Boston (Rockette Morton) in the ‘Hello Goodbye’ section where he tells Mike Barnes about joining the Magic Band in 1968 and quitting in 1974. UNCUT #184 has a six page feature called Dropouts Boogie. John Robinson has spoken to 14 former Magic Band members to form the basis of this piece … from founding member Jerry Handley, through the Tragic Band to Cliff Martinez from the final incarnation.Read 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 →

In advance of the imminent UK tour a short interview with Denny Walley has appeared in the Liverpool Echo In includes the great news that a CD of unreleased Beefheart music is to be released in December … no real detail as to what the tracks are but at last ‘Hoboism’ gets a legal release!Read 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 →

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 →

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 →

Frank and Don finger puppets

The UK music magazine, Mojo, has recently published a 140+ page Frank Zappa special in their ‘Ultimate Collectors Edition’ series. Well worth checking out this has several pages about Don and Frank’s relationship including new interviews with Gary Lucas and Art Tripp. If you’re looking for an unusual Zappa/Beefheart related Christmas present then look no further. Check out the Frank and Don finger puppets. However, if you have a bit more cash to splurge then how about the ultimate Christmas present … one of Don’s original oil paintings! Apparently the Michael Werner Gallery in New York have ‘Black Doily‘ for sale at 40,000USD. This 1992Read More →

Michael Traylor

Michael Traylor, who shared the drum stool with John French during the recent Magic Band reunion tours, is featured in the latest issue of the US-based Classic Drummer Magazine. In an article entitled Artistic Adventurer Michael discusses the contrasting sytles of playing Beefheart Music with the Magic Band and playing with pop/rocker Tommy Tutone. Check the Classic Drummer website for more about the magazine.Read 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 →

I’ve just got my copy of John French’s beautiful massive tome and have been keenly devouring it in every spare moment. It’s also had some favourable coverage in the UK press this morning. Life Under Captain Beefheart’s Regime appears in The Times and makes the book sound as fascinating and revelatory as it appears to be from what I’ve read so far. If you spot any other interesting reviews or articles related the book please post links to them below. Beefheart: Through the Eyes of Magic goes on sale tomorrow.Read More →

The 12-year old anti-hero of Josh Lieb’s new book for young adults is a Captain Beefheart fan. I point to my beloved Captain Beefheart, a musician so brilliant, so evil, he drove his own band insane. He would not let let them eat. He would not let them sleep. He would not let them leave his house. He made them wear dresses (and they were not girls). He stripped them of their very names and subjected them to hours and hours of abusive group therapy session. When a dejected and desperate member of the band managed to escape the Captain’s clutches, Beefheart snatched him offRead More →

An extract from Barney Hoskins’ new biography of Tom Waits has appeared at The Quietus. It deals with the change in Waits’ music which happened at the time of his marriage to Kathleen Brennan, and Swordfishtrombones the album which resulted. Here Hoskins skates over the vexed question of Captain Beefheart’s influence on Waits: Waits has even claimed he’d never really listened to Captain Beefheart before meeting Kathleen – that, despite being signed by Beefheart’s manager Herb Cohen and supporting the Captain’s mentor Frank Zappa on tour, he was oblivious to the gruff-voiced Dadaist genius born Don Van Vliet. Where the bruising ‘Heartattack and Vine’ hintedRead More →

PJ Harvey’s new album A Woman A Man Walked By, recorded with long-time musical collaborator John Parish, features former Magic Band member Eric Drew Feldman on keyboards. John Parish and PJ Harvey are both Captain Beefheart fans and significant musical similarities to the work of Captain Beefheart have been noted by most reviewers. Even the publicity material for the album at PJ Harvey’s MySpace page flags the Beefheart connection. In a video at Island Records website John and Polly can be heard talking about their musical influences. Polly explains how she first came to appreciate Captain Beefheart: I’d heard Beefheart when I was really youngRead More →

Captain Beefheart at The White House The next time you’re visting The White House please do have a glance at your hosts vinyl record collection. According to Rolling Stone magazine The White House Record Library includes at least one Captain Beefheart album, Trout Mask Replica. Whether The White House copy of Trout Mask has ever been played, or whether the collection has been added to since 1981 is not mentioned. Mighty Boosh and the £23,000 Van Vliet Noel Fielding of Mighty Boosh has reportedly bought his parents a painting on canvas by Don Van Vliet. The Sun newspaper writes that he paid £23,000 for theRead 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 →

Last night’s broadcast of Don Van Vliet’s 1993 interview with Co de Kloet, with musical accompaniment recorded in 2008 by Gary Lucas, can be heard until 10th September at the Dutch radio station NPS website [no longer available]. The programme is two hours long. Tom Waits, says Don, “.. had the nerve to think he could sing like me.”Read More →

As ‘Daffy Duck’s Rhapsody’ faded out, Bob Dylan introduced the next record on his Theme Time Radio Hour – Birds Mel Blanc did a lot of voices – our next artist just did one – but it’s a heck of a voice. Don Van Vliet was born in Glendale, California – he stopped performing in the 80s to focus on his painting. He’s a really good painter but I wish he’d made more records. [tangent about the Corvids – crows and rooks etc] Here’s a song that goes as straight as the crow flies – Captain Beefheart and Ice Cream for Crow. Bob had previouslyRead More →

The Times divided music fans into two camps in today’s paper: critics who love music which nobody else likes (trouts, named after you know what) and those who love music which the critics don’t like (bats, named after a multi-million selling album by Meatloaf). Read the full article, Music critics love albums that the public hates, on the Times website, should you so desire.Read More →

Trout Mask Replica promo pack These poems by Don Van Vliet are from a Trout Mask Replica promo pack which was recently auctioned at eBay. I am uncertain whether there was originally a poem for John French as well, but as he was famously uncredited on the album this seems unlikely. Thanks to Gary L. for alerting me to these. Uncut manipulation Uncut magazine for November 2007 has a five page article about, “the men who made Trout Mask Replica and survived. Just…” John French, Bill Harkleroad, Mark Boston and Gary Marker were interviewed by David Cavanagh who paints a lurid picture of the making ofRead More →