Anton Corbijn taking Don's photo

[alert_box type=”info”]Some of the greatest Beefheart photos were taken by Anton Corbijn, who writes here. He took the famous Ice Cream For Crow desert snaps, and numerous others scattered through this site. Originally appeared in Mojo Magazine, December 1993[/alert_box] I am a photographer who is a friend of Beefheart’s, rather than being an authority on him. When I met Beefheart on an NME assignment in September 1980, I didn’t know much about him at all. I met him at the County Museum of Art in LA and suggested photographing him in the desert, where he’d just come from. He said yes rather reluctantly, and weRead More →

[alert_box type=”info”]Interview taken from December 1993 Mojo Magazine.[/alert_box] On September 30, 1993, Dave DiMartino received a phone call from Don Van Vliet. I heard that you have a new studio up there. Is it a big one? Yeah. Is it complete? Yeah. I’m painting like a house afire. (laughs) How do you spend your time now? Mostly painting? Yeah. Do you do any drawing? Oh yeah. All the time. How is your day spent up there? Do you see many people? Just paint. No people. Just painting. Are you happy up there like that? Yeah. Happy as a clam. (laughs) Does it seem as ifRead More →

In April 2003 I received a message from Dave DiMartino, the author of the 1993 Mojo article “Yeah I’m Happy” featuring interviews with Don, various members of the Magic Band and Henry Kaiser. This article caused John French to write a letter to Mojo expressing his unhappiness with the article and apologising for any upset to Don that may have been caused. Years later, Henry Kaiser wrote to me to say that he never conducted an interview with Dave DiMartino and that the quotes attributed to him in the article were made up. Dave DiMartino contacted me around 1999 to express his sadness at JohnRead More →

[alert_box type=”info”] This letter originally appeared in Mojo Magazine as a response to their article about Captain Beefheart entitled ‘Yeah I’m Happy‘ from December 1993. John French (Drumbo) wanted to set the record straight, though the allegations in this letter are strongly denied by the author of the original article, Dave DiMartino. See also Henry Kaiser’s statement on the matter and Dave DiMartino’s response. [/alert_box] I just read the Beefheart story a week or so ago. DiMartino, the author, was supposed to send me a copy (all writers promise, most never carry out their promises.) Eventually, I stumbled on it by myself through a friend,Read More →

[alert_box type=”info”]This article first appeared in Mojo Magazine, December 1993 as an introduction to an interview with the man himself. Please also see John French’s response to this article.[/alert_box] He is alive. A recluse. Painting in seclusion up near the Oregon border. There have been weird signals through the ether since he stopped making music 11 years ago, but they were faint, confused, unintelligible. But now Dave DiMartino has finally made contact with the man who used to be Captain Beefheart. It is entirely fitting that Don Van Vliet, painter of international repute, and one of a handful of truly legendary figures in rock ‘n’ roll,Read More →

[alert_box type=”info”]This highly recommended interview was taken from the January 1988 edition of Spin magazine.[/alert_box] Don Van Vliet was born in Glendale, California, on January 15, 1941, the only child of Glenn and Sue Van Vliet. Don began showing artistic talent at a very young age but Glenn and Sue were none too keen on having an artist in the family. “Cause you know, all artists are faggots,” Don explains. When he was young, the family moved to the Mojave Desert, an isolated, brutal environment that they hoped would bleach the creative juice out of their son. But Van Vliet’s drive to translate the worldRead More →

[alert_box type=”info”]From the 18th December 1985 New York Times[/alert_box] A painter whose first one-man show in New York runs through Saturday at the Mary Boone Gallery, 417 West Broadway, may be better known to music-lovers than to the art world. The prestigious gallery, which has represented David Salle and Julian Schnabel, has a show of eight large, boldly colored canvases by Don Van Vliet, the composer, saxophonist and harmonica player who has been making records since the 1960’s as Captain Beefheart. The style of such paintings as ”Eye Whine” and ”Gum at the Bottom of the Grocery” will be familiar to owners of the albumsRead More →

[alert_box type=”info”]This interview was taken from the August 1983 edition of Heavy Metal Magazine. A big thankyou to Don Trubey for scanning and sending it along.[/alert_box] Photograph copyright Anton Corbijn, used by kind permission There’s no doubt in my mind that Don Van Vliet (better known by his nom de disc, Captain Beefheart) is one of the most extraordinary humans on the face of the Earth. A few years ago, in a youthfully effusive frenzy, I called him an ubermensch (superman, for you non-Nietzscheans), something he’s never let me live down. But the man isn’t so much a superman, as… well, a separate genus andRead More →

[alert_box type=”info”]This article was taken from the January 1981 edition of Trouser Press. It was originally titled simply “Captain Beefheart”.[/alert_box] The first thing Don Van Vliet does when you meet him is to bring you immediately into his world. “Those people over there take too many showers,” he said to me seconds after I walked into his manager’s Greenwich Village apartment for our interview. “There.” He led me over to a window and pointed across the courtyard to a large living room. “They parade around there in their bathrobes!” I hadn’t even taken my coat off, but I felt comfortable already. Van Vliet / CaptainRead More →

[alert_box type=”info”]This excellent article / interview was taken from the October 1st – 7th 1980 edition of Voice.[/alert_box] He’s alive, but so is paint. Are you? Don Van Vliet is a 39-year-old man who lives with his wife Jan in a trailer in the Mojave Desert. They have very little money, so it must be pretty hard on them sometimes, but I’ve never heard them complain. Don Van Vliet is better known as Captain Beefheart, a legend worldwide whom the better part of a generation of New Wave rock ‘n’ roll bands’ have cited as one of their most important spiritual and musical forefathers: JohnRead More →

[alert_box type=”info”]This excellent interview was taken from the 1st May 1980 edition of Wet magazine. The photograph is by Leonard X and the drawing is by Don Van Vliet.[/alert_box] Captain Beefheart is a visionary / madman / genius who makes remarkably original music. A sculptor / painter / poet / philosopher of the primitive surrealist persuasion, Beefheart has never confined himself to the commonly accepted realm of possibilities. Perceiving the universe with magic and gleeful eyes, he tosses conventional approaches to language and music out of the window, and replaces them with an astonishing system of his own design. His startlingly irregular music marries ruralRead More →

[alert_box type=”info”]This interview is from the January 1979 edition of the New York Rocker. The informal chat covers topics such as New Wave, cleanliness, and Don’s selling of a vacuum cleaner to Aldous Huxley.[/alert_box] The stars are matter. We’re matter. What’s the diff, Zoot? Don Van Vliet, aka Captain Beefheart, has emerged after six years of semi-retirement with a great album. Since the release of Clear Spot in late ’72, offerings from the Beefheart camp have been both infrequent and less than heartening. Even Van Vliet dismisses outright the two muffed Mercury albums, Unconditionally Guaranteed and Bluejeans and Moonbeams, and apart from guest shots onRead More →

[alert_box type=”info”]This curious oddity was a prank that first appeared in a Baltimore Maryland newspaper, The Sun, on 8th September 1973. The autographed version that you see below later appeared in an underground publication from 1985 called “DDC#040.002 #3”, published by “tENTATIVELY, a cONVENIENCE”.[/alert_box] This was very kindly sent to me by Brainpang – many thanks to him for this bizarre curio. Joan Lobell is a Beefheart fan who, in 1973, thought it would be amusing to announce her engagement to none other than ‘Captain Don Van Vliet Beefheart, USAF’ in the local paper. Five years later she ended up meeting Don at a MagicRead More →

[alert_box type=”info”]This article was taken from Creem Magazine, mid 1972. Many thanks to Andrew for the info about this piece.[/alert_box] WHAT DOES one say to a man who, at the age of three, used to talk with lions inside their cages? How does one cope with a greeting – ‘Haven’t I met you somewhere before’ ‘No, I don’t think so, actually.’ ‘Weren’t you at my concert last night? Weren’t you sitting up there (he points) in a group of seven in a box. That’s where I’ve seen you.’ It’s all very easy when one is talking to Captain Beefheart. My journalist’s paranoia which had beenRead More →

[alert_box type=”info”]This interview with Don Van Vliet was taken from the 19th March 1972 edition of Crawdaddy[/alert_box] “New York is a slow turtle with diarrhea” says Captain Beefheart, alias the Spotlight Kid, alias Don Van Vliet. The Anderson Theatre is in that area of New York now known as the Lower East Side. Once it was called The Last Village, when Flower Power sowed its stone fields with the waifs and strays and prophets of the New America. Even if it is no longer a cool ‘n groovy place to live, let alone hang out on a Saturday night, some Junior Entrepreneurs chose the AndersonRead More →

Refusal of leave to land report

On the 18th January 1968, The Magic Band were involved in a bizarre and humorous incident which resulted in their being refused entry to the UK and deported to Hanover. Here is the cover sheet and text of the official report – the text originally came from the Edinburgh Review no. 86. Refusal of Leave to Land (Remarks) Mr VLIET was detained in the approved detention quarters in the Queen’s Building from 1230 hours until 1700 hours. He had previously remained in the Arrivals Hall. Mr VLIET is the leader of an american “pop group” known as Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band, which specialises in so-calledRead More →

Los Angeles Council tribute to Don Van Vliet

On the 5 January 2011 at the request of Los Angeles City Councilmember Paul Koretz, the City Council unanimously agreed to adjourn its meeting early in memory of Don Van Vliet. The Council member also spoke at some length about Captain Beefheart, when making his adjourning motion. Adjourning certificates are created following such an adjournment, to be sent to loved ones. In this case the certificate was passed to Gary Lucas (at his Beefheart Symposium on 13 January) for him to send on to Jan. Click the image for a larger view.Read More →

In March 2000, John French sent me a message commenting on Angel’s photographs of the house in Woodland Hills where the Magic Band lived and rehearsed Trout Mask Replica. I asked him if he would like to write a paragraph about the house that I could include at the Radar Station. This is what he sent me, many thanks, John. Actually, I know the people who live there and had their email address for a time. They allowed me to come in during August of 1998 and take pictures inside and out. However, the shots of the outside didn’t show as much detail because: itRead More →

Still of the Trout House from The Artist Formerly Known As Captain Beefheart

The Woodland Hills house on Ensenada Drive was the venue for the Magic Band’s endless rehearsals of Trout Mask Replica, and also where the Trout Mask Sessions on Grow Fins were recorded. Its inclusion at the Radar Station is a must! So many legendary stories surround this magical-looking building, which appeared to have been left to decay. Then in 2006 it was put up for sale, and in 2010 as well. Angel’s photographs of her & Chris’ trip to the Trout House John French’s response to these photographs … Stills of the Trout House from The Artist Formerly Known As Captain Beefheart See also: ConfluenceRead More →

[alert_box type=”info”]March 2002, exclusive to beefheart.com[/alert_box] My first meeting with Don Van Vliet–whom I’ll just refer to as Beefheart–came on a rainy night about 12 hours before his wedding. It was November 1969; I was 19 years old. I was at my parent’s home in Northridge, California when the phone rang about 9:30 p.m. I thought it was my girlfriend whose house I had left an hour before. But it was my friend, Jan Jenkins. Jan had just been in a traffic accident while driving alone in Beefheart’s Volvo. She was not injured, but the Volvo had been towed. She needed a lift back toRead More →