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 →

In early / mid 2000 John French called on Radar Station visitors for some help writing his book, Beefheart: Through The Eyes Of Magic… Name: John Wilby Sent: Sunday, April 02, 2000 11:58 AM Of all the numerous musicians who have cited Beefheart as an influence, who are the ones that band members feel have ‘got it right’? Unfortunately, I have to plead total ignorance here. I personally have to admit that I have no interest in reading rock articles, so I would even know how to begin to answer this. I don’t listen to music, generally and never have. Perhaps this is an areaRead More →

In early / mid 2000 John French called on Radar Station visitors for some help writing his book, Beefheart: Through The Eyes Of Magic… Name: Basil Storey Sent: Sunday, April 02, 2000 1:40 PM Did the band rehearse every day? When I get a question like this, I always refer to the Trout House times and you may be thinking of a different era, or a time when I wasn’t in the band. During the “Trout” era, the band didn’t necessarily rehearse every day, although we rehearsed every available day. I often went for weeks without actually being able to do much practice or muchRead 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: Marshall Needleman Armintor Sent: Wednesday, March 29, 2000 3:42 AM First off, I’m very glad that you’re getting the chance to expand on your excellent Grow Fins material. Thanks you, Marshall, for the compliment on the Grow Fins set booklet. I actually received a postcard from the people at Revenant last year saying the liner notes were being “considered” for nomination for a Grammy! In the liner notes to his small-group album Locus Solus, John Zorn says something like, “WhenRead 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: Monique / Michael Cohen Sent: Monday, February 21, 2000 3:47 PM I am very excited about this book! I’ve reread the Zoot Horn Rollo book at least 3 times! I’m sure the book will address things that I’m already interested in like Beefheart’s relationship with Zappa (and also how Zappa interacted with Magic Band members), I don’t know who to address my answers to Monique or Michael, because there’s two names here. Beefheart’s relationship with Zappa was an always-changing love-hateRead 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: Steven Vacca Sent: Friday, February 18, 2000 12:41 AM Has anyone ever talked in-depth with Beefheart’s old girlfriend, Laurie, to get her perspective on the Don Vliet that she knew during the ’60s and the Trout period? That would be one very different perspective apart from the band, the music industry insiders, the fans, etc. She obviously saw the raw Beefheart in private and in public, and must know the truth about the guy. If interviews are conducted to obtainRead 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: Wingnut Sent: Sunday, February 06, 2000 4:30 PM Are train hopping references drawn from Mr. Van Vleit’s or another band members personal experience? When Van Vliet’s family moved him to Mojave, he was about 13. Mojave is one side of the road, and the railroad tracks are on the other. Their only company was a few shacks, some cattle loadings pens and ramps, and a couple of hobo camps. Don claimed that as a young adolescent, he used to goRead 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: Michael H Sent: Wednesday, February 02, 2000 2:04 PM Another topic might be what Don and the other band members thought of various other artists. We know about Herb Alpert from the Grow Fins set. Thanks, Michael, for your questions. Don’s opinions of other artists seem to radically change throughout the years, as the interviews I have read by him show. There was a time when he practically worshipped Eric Dolphy. Then, in a later interview in the early 80’s,Read 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: Jarkko Nevalainen Sent: 20 January 2000 08:29 I’d like to know more about Jeff Moris Tepper. I’d also like to know what ex-members of the band are doing nowadays. The Grow Fins book was great. I have not actually contacted Jeff for some time. He is quite busy with his paintings and music. I know him as Jeff since I met him in December of 1974. I was helping the Van Vliet’s move back to Southern California from Northern CaliforniaRead 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 Wilby Sent: Saturday, January 15, 2000 12:36 PM How happy were/are you with the Drumbo nickname? My first thought was that I would be called “Dumbo” and people would make fun of me. Then, I thought, “Who cares?” I think it’s a great name. Zoot used to call me “Drumhead.” I think it is a memorable name and I hope I distinguished it somehow as being associated with competence. What did the other members think of theirs? I thinkRead 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: Hans Van Hulst Sent: Friday, January 14, 2000 8:36 PM The fact that you are writing a book is great news. If I could have my way, the book would concentrate heavily on the making of Trout Mask Replica. TMR is the real mystery in the career of Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band. I mean, given TMR, most of the subsequent albums make sense; but none of the music before TMR even hinted at Trout Mask Replica. The secretRead 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: Matt Janovic Sent: Sunday, January 16, 2000 2:28 AM Hiya, how about more in-depth coverage of Don’s meetings with Ornette Coleman, and his relationship with Frank Zappa? Thank you! Thanks Matt, Coleman is a mystery to me. I wasn’t there, nor was I really interested in meeting him. If it would have been Coltrane, I would have camped out on his door, but I never cared that much for Coleman. Bill’s book gives the most information any band member wouldRead 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: Dan Mellamphy Sent: Friday, January 14, 2000 2:13 PM A little light shed on the mystery of “The Mysterious N. Senada” would be interesting. Perhaps in a section on Early Collaboration Work or in one that could be devoted to the wonderful monster that is called the Mythological or Fabulistic impulse (the inevitable generation of myth and fable that eventually surrounds such figures as B). Something else that might be interesting could be called the “Avatar” effect: for instance, theRead More →