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 →

A new book about Don’s work looking at his music, words and paintings. Currently only available in Italian. Published by Arcana Edizioni Price: € 25 Year: 2017 384 pages Contact: moderndance78@yahoo.it Publicity blurb: Captain Beefheart, born Don Vliet, is one of the most important and mythologized artists in the entire history of rock music. Starting from a solid blues basis and armed with a powerful voice worthy of Howlin ‘Wolf, in the Sixties he recorded, with his Magic Band, some of the most decisive works for the evolution of blues-rock, releasing in 1969, also thanks to the support of his friend Frank Zappa, the prodigiousRead More →

Published by Verlag Gachnang & Springer ISBN 3-906127-15-X Price varies 1987 96 pages Contents: Paintings: It’s Like A White Onion-Fleshed Pumpkin, 1985 Copper Diver, 1985 Pig Erases Statue in Passing, 1985 Ghost Gait, Ghost Gait, 1985 Bromboline Frenzy, 1985 Night Nitrate, 1985 Red Cloud Monkey, 1985 Rolled Roots Gnarled Like Rakers, 1985/6 Whalebone Farmhouse, 1986 Check Bif, 1986 Carp Catcher, 1986 Garden Lion, 1986 With Twinkling Lights and Green Sashes, 1986 Crepe and Black Lamps, 1986 Sea Wig, 1986 Candle Powered Rodeo Ghosts, 1986 Poems: My Human Gets Me Blues Pachuco Cadaver Orange Claw Hammer The Dust Blows Forward ‘n The Dust Blows Back OldRead More →

by Don R. Aldridge, November 2011 It was a Tuesday night, or more accurately very early Wednesday morning in 1966. I had just gotten off my shift at Lockheed Aircraft in Burbank, California and had made it back to Lancaster in just over an hour. Good time for the Thanksgiving Day traffic, which had already begun its bleed on the Los Angeles freeway system, out of the city. I had driven straight through, pulling up in front of the house on Carolside Avenue at just after 1 a.m. I was coming for Thanksgiving dinner with Captain Beefheart. It’s a little remarkable to me that so few people,Read More →

Author Recounts Friendship with Avant-garde Icon By Don R. Aldridge, December 2010 American pop music has lost an artist of enormous influence. Captain Beefheart, composer, singer, bandleader, and avant-garde musician who was perhaps one of rock’s greatest unheralded geniuses, died in a Northern California hospital, Friday. His death was attributed to complications due to multiple sclerosis. He was 69 years old. Born Don Glen Vliet, January 15, 1941, he became known to his worldwide fan base simply as Captain Beefheart. Of Dutch ancestry, the artist, who turned to painting after retiring from the stage in the 1980s, changed his surname to Van Vliet in the 1960s. I knew Don wellRead More →

by Don R. Aldridge, December 2010 Before I go into the details of my visit to Captain Beefheart’s home in Woodland Hills, early in 1969, I want to spend some time laying the background for the circumstances that brought about the visit in the first place. I hadn’t seen Don Van Vliet in a few months but I knew he was working on a project and that the moment probably wasn’t ripe for a visit. My instincts proved to be on target; in all of the years of our friendship, my visit to the Trout Mask Replica house on Ensenada Drive was the only time that I did notRead More →

by Don R. Aldridge, October 2010 In 1965, I walked into the world of Don Van Vliet, the man who would become renowned internationally as the avant-garde rock artist Captain Beefheart. What I did not realize at the time was that I would be a witness to the complete evolutionary process of both the man and the artist. My birth name is Don Aldridge and knew Don Van Vliet for twenty years. I still consider him my friend although we have not spoken in many years years. And I miss Don Van Vliet. I miss the esoteric banter and friendly discussions we had in the earliest days of CaptainRead More →

The Man Formerly Known as Captain Beefheart by Don R. Aldridge, September 2010 Stepping into the world of Captain Beefheart in 1965, was like walking through a portal into the Twilight Zone – everything was normal, to the extent anything is ever normal, and everything was strangely disjointed. Television sets had a way of finding themselves twisted into Technicolor snow, conversations could turn from blasé exchanges on politics or music, to Dadaistic rants or wordplays, and the most mundane objects became puppets for Don Van Vliet’s life production. My birth name is Don Aldridge, and I met Don Van Vliet, who would become better known asRead More →

The Transcendency of the Magic Band by Don R. Aldridge, August 2010 In the early, what I will call formative years, of Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band, Don Van Vliet would bounce ideas off me. I don’t believe for one moment, and didn’t even then, that he was seeking my advice, but I’m still not sure why he chose to share some of these revelatory thoughts with me. The best I can say, by way of analogy, is that my relationship with Don Van Vliet was something like Jim Morrison’s friendship with Danny Sugarman: for some reason I am still at a loss to explain, the guy tookRead More →

Frownland Gets a Face Lift by Don R. Aldridge, August 2010 Much has been written over the years about Don Van Vliet’s, relationship with his parents, and I remain uncertain as to whether any of us who actually witnessed it understood what we were witnessing. I’m tempted to title this article, Captain Beefheart: Live at the Delivery Room: Bake One. Because much of what I saw was classic Only Child Syndrome, if I may coin a phrase. (JAMA will pick this up and put it on Oprah, I’m sure). Interviews I’ve read with people who have witnessed an incident or two between Don and his mother, Sue,Read More →

by Don R. Aldridge, August 2010 Don Van Vliet, the man who was known for more than two decades as Captain Beefheart, always jealously guarded his privacy. Much has been made over the years about Don’s reclusiveness, but I’m not sure that would – at least during the Magic Band era – be an apt description. I don’t know of any time when I was not welcome at Don’s house or wherever he happened to be. I can’t recall being invited to any sessions, but he always made it clear to others that I was welcome. I was in all of the sessions at Sunset Sound, whenRead More →

What the Fans May Not Know by Don R. Aldridge, August 2010 In 1965, Don Vliet followed his boyhood chum Frank Zappa into the world of avant-garde rock ‘n’ roll with his group Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band. My birth name is Donald Aldridge, and I grew up in Lancaster, California, where Don and I became close friends in the mid sixties. He later changed his surname to Van Vliet. Don’s songs have appeared in several Hollywood movies and TV shows over the years, including The Big Lebowski, Things We Lost in the Fire, and Entourage. Some of the experiences revolving around my relationship with Captain Beefheart can be found in Mike BarnesRead More →

Looking Back at Captain Beefheart by Don R. Aldridge, July 2010 According to the half-dozen or so dedicated-to-the-point-of-delirium fan websites one surfs on the internet today, the bizarre 1960’s avant-garde rock icon Captain Beefheart is: a paranormal savant with a four-octave vocal range; a primitive artisan who didn’t attend a day of school after the age of five; a musical genius who slapped music on vinyl the way Jackson Pollock did paint to canvas. Captain Beefheart was born Don Glen Vliet on January 15, 1941, to Glen Alonzo and Willie Sue Vliet in Glendale, California. He attended public schools in Glendale and Mojave, California and Antelope ValleyRead More →

A look at the new book from Herb Bermann, Don’s co-writer on Safe As Milk. It’s not that long ago that many people thought that Herb Bermann was just another myth created by Don Van Vliet. Although he shared writing credits on eight songs on the Safe As Milk album, and, much later, one on Shiny Beast, he seemed to have disappeared off the radar. But the Radar Station kept looking for him … You can read about my and Derek Laskie’s search here. We were certain he was out there and Derek eventually managed to secure an exclusive interview with him for the RadarRead More →

Okay, so why am I reviewing a book about Jeff Buckley here on the Radar Station? Well, it’s written by Gary Lucas who had, and still continues to have, a big part to play in the music of Don Van Vliet, and I think, should interest a lot of Beefheart fans. Jawbone Press : London 2013 Paperback 318 pages 22 Illustrations Originally published in Italy in Italian this is an updated English version of Gary’s story of his “time with Jeff Buckley”, in which he wants to correct the many previously published errors about their relationship and to counter the attempts at airbrushing him outRead More →

Paperback : 300 pages No publisher Published 2012 Overview by Steve Froy The title pretty much says it all about this book. This is a collection of around 40 articles, reviews and interviews about and with Don van Vliet over nearly five decades. From the 1966 ‘Great Gnome Biography’ press kit by Derek Taylor to the text of Bono’s chat on the phone with Don in 2001 (don’t let put off you though!). Originally published in music magazines, some well known and others more obscure, all of the pieces are available on this website or on others around the net but they’ve now been convenientlyRead More →

In early / mid 2000 John French called on Radar Station visitors for some help writing his book, Beefheart: Through The Eyes Of Magic… From: John Mackenzie As a long-time Beefheart fan, I was fascinated to learn that YOU transcribed the ideas in Don Van Vliet’s head, and what he whistled or banged out on the piano or sung or whatever, into the music we hear on the records that were made. Please go into more and specific detail on this intimate musical relationship you had with the Captain. Since you were able to transpose his “conceptual” ideas into wonderful, beyond-compare music, have you foundRead More →

In early / mid 2000 John French called on Radar Station visitors for some help writing his book, Beefheart: Through The Eyes Of Magic… From: 5th Procurator of Judea Date: Fri, 21 Apr 2000 10:13:44 -0400 Okay conspiracy theorists… There’s this part in “Moonlight On Vermont” (Trout Mask Replica) where Beefheart intones “Come out to show dem” repeatedly. Then there’s this early piece of music by the “minimalist” composer Steve Reich called “Come Out” where Reich loops a quote from someone (about being beaten) and then gradually delays a second channel of it causing a very strange effect. The quote which is sampled and thenRead More →

In early / mid 2000 John French called on Radar Station visitors for some help writing his book, Beefheart: Through The Eyes Of Magic… From: Paul Lewis Sent: Tuesday, April 11, 2000 4:55 PM Thank you for taking the time to field questions from readers of the Radar Station. I’m a big fan of your work and am hoping that you can shed some light on a few questions that I have. You have mentioned previously that you expected to be part of a blues band when you joined the Magic Band in the mid 60’s. What kept you going when the band started findingRead More →

In early / mid 2000 John French called on Radar Station visitors for some help writing his book, Beefheart: Through The Eyes Of Magic… From: Ralf NygÂrd Sent: Monday, April 03, 2000 6:40 PM As far as I understand it, you saw some references to Vliet’s massive use of cocaine in the later years. I only saw fringes of Don’s cocaine use and never really saw much of a negative effect. However, one reliable anonymous source made it clear to me that there was in fact quite a problem with cocaine use in the later music years. Why did he start using it in theRead More →