Originally published in the Wall Street Journal December 19, 2010 Noted avant guitarist and composer Gary Lucas was a colleague and friend to Don Van Vliet, better known as Captain Beefheart, who died Friday. Calling him “the most compelling conceptualist I’d ever heard,” Lucas once told the Journal that Van Vliet had “taken the structure of the jazz and blues and rebuilt it like no one else had.” We asked him to record his thoughts about his mentor and friend. Don Van Vliet was an American maverick visionary genius who single-handedly changed the face of music we know it over a dozen uncompromising albums. HeRead More →

Has it really been that long? It has been even longer since he’d been really productive as an artist. He’d given up recording music completely to concentrate on painting but even that was denied to him as the MS he suffered from gradually took hold. It must have been frustrating for him as someone who had continually created, to whom it seemed to come so easily, always doodling in his drawing books, writing poems and lyrics, whistling, humming… He battled against the disease for as long as he could, some of his last drawings were no more than a few scribbled lines but they representedRead More →

Publicity Without a doubt the most challenging artist of the rock era, the man formerly known as Don Van Vliet still retains an almost biblical dedication amongst the ever-increasing fanbase of ‘those who get it’. You either do or you don’t; the good Captain doesn’t attract the casuals! Captain Beefheart – Under Review is a two hour documentary film tracing the roots and history of this iconic musical legend. Featuring rare live and studio performances of Beefheart, interspersed with contributions from virtually all members of The Magic Band – along with a panel of esteemed experts.The film also features rarely seen promo films, interview footageRead More →

Just unearthed from Gary Lucas’s archives: A phone interview Gary conducted with Don Van Vliet broadcast on Yale University’s radio station WYBC FM January 18th 1972 three days before Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band’s show at Yale University’s Woolsey Hall January 21st 1972. Gary was Music Director of WYBC at the time, and had seen Beefheart’s first gig in NYC at Ungano’s the year before, a show which changed his life–as after witnessing that concert he vowed that if he ever did anything in music professionally, his number one priority would be to join Beefheart’s Magic Band–which he eventually did in 1980. This interviewRead More →

A&M Days Published March 1993 Note: The original printed version of this issue had several blank pages where images were missing. I have reinstated them and have taken the liberty to replace some of the other images with better colour versions where possible. Click on the image for a larger version.Read More →

Delta Fusion Published September 1993 Note:  I have added an image that was missed off the original printing and have taken the liberty to replace some of the other images with better colour versions where possible. Click on the image for a larger version.    Read More →

The Radar Station is pleased to present this fascinating article by Art Tripp, aka Ed Marimba, aka Ted Cactus, drummer and percussionist for both Zappa’s Mothers of Invention and Beefheart’s Magic Band. Here he gives his take on what it was like to work for both these very different musical geniuses. Thanks to Kitty Marimba for helping to make this happen. ————————————————————————————— Zappa vs. Beefheart: What Were They Really Like? by Art Tripp “Hi, Art, this is Dick Kunc here. I was telling Frank about you, and we’re wondering if you could come down to Apostolic Studios on Friday?” “Sure, Dick. What should I bring:Read More →

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 →