Welcome to my very favourite item here at the Radar Station. It’s a streaming audio interview broadcast on the John Peel show on the 24th April 1973. Fourteen minutes long, it is less of an interview than a friendly chat. John Peel states at the beginning that he is notoriously bad at interviewing people, but this is one of the best interview I have ever heard with the Captain and really captures his sense of fun. This tape was sent to me by Peter Cooney, many thanks indeed. Click to hear the show.Read More →

Here you will find streaming audio files which make up a full interview which took place in California, July 1969, between Don Van Vliet and Meatball Fulton. Divided into 5 parts, each part is just over 20 minutes long for your convenience. You may occasionally hear sentences abruptly clipped due to the original tape running out in the machine recording the conversation. I doubt there is a more complete audio version of this interview available anywhere. This is a fascinating interview, with Don making a startling succession of inspired observations about music, art, drugs, literature, human society, nature etc etc. I tip my hat toRead More →

These cartoons were sent to me by Colin B. Morton and are used with kind permission. All except the first are taken from the Colin B. Morton & Chuck Death Book “Great Pop Things”. Click for bigger versions: Note the appearance of a ‘Norton Nicholls’ in both the Zappa story and “Captain Beefheart: The Movie part 1”. Colin explained: [wp_quote] I attended Croesyceiliog School in Gwent (also Colin David Webb who wrote “Captain Beefheart – The Man & His Music” went to this school but a bit before me). In about 1983-4 I was standing at a bus stop talking to some kids from thatRead More →

This cartoon is dated 6th March 1995 and was taken from the Eureka Times Standard. I must say that I can’t work out what the two accompanying questions have to do with anything, let alone Beefheart. Nevertheless, it’s a nice drawing. Many thanks to Sheldon Reber for sending it along.Read More →

One of the many myths surrounding Don’s early years involves his association with a Portuguese sculptor called Agostinho Rodrigues (sometimes written as Augustino Rodriquez). Don’s story is that he trained under this artist and appeared on a weekly television programme with him sculpting wild animals at Griffith Park Zoo. Searches for information about Rodrigues (using variations on the spelling of his name) have come to nothing. However, in 2003 a bit more about Rodrigues, Don and animal sculpting came to light. The Rhino art box Riding Some Kind Of Unusual Skull Sleigh included a book called Splinters, a collection of personal photos and other ephemeraRead More →

[alert_box type=”info”]This is an interview / conversation between Don Van Vliet and Bono from U2 which appeared in a Christmas special of Dutch magazine Oor in December 2001, double issue 25/26. This Christmas special was laid out by Anton Corbijn, hence the Bono / Beefheart connection. The conversation took place around October / November 2001. Many thanks indeed to Rob van der Kroef for taking the time and trouble to translate the interview from Dutch back to English. Since this text has been translated from English to Dutch and then back again, you may expect all kinds of peculiarities to have worked their way inRead More →

[alert_box type=”info”]Otis Owens e-mailed me in early April ’98, putting me straight about a few things, and I soon realised it would be worth getting him to write something for the site. He agreed to answer a few questions, though at the time I didn’t expect the result to be quite so fascinating.[/alert_box] First, some background info… You said that you worked for Zappa… how long was this for and what did you do? I worked for John Williams (Art Director) for Frank’s Bizarre/Straight records. I began in 1968 and was there until August 1970. John hired me because my style was very similar toRead More →

[alert_box type=”info”]Article taken from the 24th August 1997 Sunday Telegraph.[/alert_box] Also guaranteed to have a catastrophic effect on your love-life is the music of Captain Beefheart, subject of John Peel’s adoring if oddly po-faced tribute, The Artist Formerly Known as Captain Beefheart (Tuesday, BBC2). But then perhaps he too is a “boy thing.” Years ago, I never understood why any woman I succeeded in luring home vanished swiftly into the night as soon as I played her some of the Captain’s more tender bellowings. All this time later, I couldn’t help but be moved to find that he’d lost none of his power to sootheRead More →

[alert_box type=”info”]Article taken from the 17th August 1997 Observer, originally titled simply ‘UK Television’.[/alert_box] We at the Observer can boast a couple of ancient links with Captain Beefheart, subject of tonight’s Rock Cults programme, The Artist Formerly Known as Captain Beefheart (BBC2, 11.15pm): Tom Hibbert’s band, the Angry Crabbers, played support to Captain Beefheart in a San Francisco club in 1981. `Nice set, son,’ rumbled the Captain when they came off stage. `I’ve got one word of advice to you: don’t sign with Virgin.’ Well, as those old cosmic links go, I was initially instrumental in signing the Captain to Virgin in 1974, after anRead More →

[alert_box type=”info”]Article taken from the 17th August 1997 Daily Telegraph.[/alert_box] But why did he throw it all in and go to live in the Mojave Desert? Mike Barnes finds out. “I’M a genius, I was born with my eyes open,” said Captain Beefheart back in 1972. A lot of people still agree with him. John Peel is one of them. “If there has ever been such a thing as a genius in the history of popular music, it’s Beefheart,” he says. “I heard echoes of his music in some of the records I listened to last week and I’ll hear more echoes in records thatRead More →

[alert_box type=”info”]Article from unknown source on the 16th August 1997. If you know where this came from, please let me know.[/alert_box] An ornery cuss is Don van Vliet, the subject of next Tuesday’s BBC2 documentary Rock Cults: The Artist Formerly Known As Captain Beefheart, introduced and narrated by No 1 Beefheart fan John Peel. Frank Zappa, for instance, was almost literally on his deathbed before he could bring himself to comment in level tones about his former musical partner, the duo having fallen out horribly and infamously almost 20 years before. Tuesday night’s fascinating programme in fact arose accidentally out of producer-director Elaine Shepherd’s previousRead More →

Elaine Shepherd’s classic BBC documentary, introduced and narrated by John Peel. Completely wonderful, a 50 minute joy: Reviews, articles, blog posts, etc. relating to The Artist Formerly Known As Captain Beefheart. When the film was first screened by the BBC, it was followed by the Anton Corbijn / Don Van Vliet short Some YoYo Stuff.Read More →

[alert_box type=”info”]This first appeared in the 21st August 1994 Independent on Sunday.[/alert_box] Gary Lucas First saw Captain Beefheart play at a New York club in 1971. Their acquaintance was years old before he plucked up the courage to reveal that he played the guitar. Then Lucas’s wife became Beefheart’s manager and he was given an instrumental to play on ‘Doc at the Radar Station’ (1980). By 1982 Lucas was a full-time member of the Magic Band. It was at this point that Beefheart decided he didn’t want to make records. Lucas now has his own band, Gods and Monsters. [wp_quote]The first time I saw himRead More →

[alert_box type=”info”]This article appeared in the 21st August 1994 edition of The Independent on Sunday, prior to the Stand Up To Be Discontinued exhibition opening in England.[/alert_box] Don Van Vliet is probably the only full-time painter who used to be a mythical figure in music. Once Captain Beefheart, he is soon to exhibit in Brighton. Ben Thompson sent him a fax. DON VAN VLIET lives in the small and beautifully named town of Trinidad in Northern California, up by the Oregon border, 135 ft from the ocean. He paints there. He is a painter of note – “Stand Up to Be Discontinued”, the second BritishRead More →