[alert_box type=”info”]This article appeared in September 1974, although the source is unknown. It focuses very favourably on the so-called ‘Tragic Band’ era, and includes a couple of the contradictory statements which Don has made about this time.[/alert_box] Beefheart has been called a genius and that is unfortunate. Geniuses for the most part are people who die poor and unrecognised only to then receive attention (No, this is not Jim Crotchetey we’re talking about). For the most part geniuses are not rock stars and if they are they’re the type who don’t tour and only come out of seclusion every few years to record an albumRead More →

[alert_box type=”info”]This article and interview was taken from ZigZag 34, Vol 3 N0. 10, November 1973.[/alert_box] The article is introduced by the ZigZag editor, Connor McKnight. Many thanks indeed to Michael H for sending this along. In September of 1970, I moved into a new flat in Bayswater. It has about it an air of what indifferent novelists invariably call faded gentility. All our neighbours seemed very old and very quiet, but it was still a nice place. Now one evening when I was sitting on the toilet, of all things, a faint trace of musk wafted through the door, and upon closer listening itRead More →

[alert_box type=”info”]This interview was taken from the July 1973 issue of Oui magazine.[/alert_box] The introduction merely relates the Beefheart ‘legend’, however the interview itself is particularly interesting as the Captain discusses the formation of the Magic Band and the music which they produced, offering full credit to those involved and their contributions to the music. Captain Beefheart is not a military hero, the star of a kiddie show, or the symbol of a brand of dog food. After spending some time with him, though, you get the feeling that he could, if he really wanted to, be any one of those things. What he mightRead More →

This article / interview first appeared in Sounds 14th April 1973. Many thanks indeed to Simon Sergeant for typing it up and sending it. I must confess I didn’t expect Captain Beefheart’s reply to “Hello, how are you?” to be that he felt fine but was very angry about the Muhammad Ali fight: “Look what they have done to him man, I mean he won that, and they took it away from him.” Don Van Vliet and his wife Jan joined us for a lunch a couple of days after he flew in to London for his biggest and potentially most successful tour here. WithRead More →

[alert_box type=”info”]Taken from the 18th February 1971 edition of Down Beat. Many thanks to Francisco Vázquez for kindly scanning and sending it along.[/alert_box] The Manteno Festival may be the only festival not covered by the usual media overblow – mainly, of course, because Cincinnati is hardly your basic cultural Mecca. Also, no film was made, no records were cut, no one was killed or over-stoned or rioted – only music happened, albeit quite theatrical music, and a good but not revolutionary time was had by all. Well-met at the Ludlow Garage on Nov. 20-21, local entrepreneur Jim Tarbell by beneficent accident had simply assembled aRead More →

[alert_box type=”info”]This classic article originally appeared in Rolling Stone’s 14th May 1970 edition. Many thanks to Justin Sherill for making it available.[/alert_box] “Uh oh, the phone,” Captain Beefheart mumbled as he placed his tarnished soprano saxophone in its case. “I have to answer the telephone.” It was a very peculiar thing to say. The phone had not rung. Beefheart walked quickly from his place by the upright piano across the dimly lit living room to where the telephone lay. He waited. After ten seconds of stony silence it finally rang. None of the half dozen or so persons in the room seemed at all surprisedRead More →

[alert_box type=”info”]The following sound advice can be found in the book Rolling Stone’s Alt-Rock-A-Rama (1996) which includes an article written by John McCormick about Moris Tepper.[/alert_box] Budding guitarists take note. 1. Listen to the birds That’s where all the music comes from. Birds know everything about how it should sound and where that sound should come from. And watch hummingbirds. They fly really fast, but a lot of times they aren’t going anywhere. 2. Your guitar is not really a guitar Your guitar is a divining rod. Use it to find spirits in the other world and bring them over. A guitar is also aRead More →

[alert_box type=”info”]This article is an extract from Mike Barnes’ biography of Don Van Vliet, Captain Beefheart, published by Quartet Books, 2000.[/alert_box] ISBN 0 7043 8073 0 You can order this book from Amazon.co.uk or any good UK book sellers. ‘Everything they did I had ’em do. I mean I’m a director. I don’t wanna boast or anything like that, but I am an artist. And the thing is that sometimes artists are considered horrible after they direct something. Y’see those guys, they fell too far into my role, and then they didn’t like me after that. It happens in theatre and everything. But I can’tRead 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 →

[alert_box type=”info”]From the Stand Up To Be Discontinued book, Cantz, 1993[/alert_box] Ice Cream for Crow. On the Relationship between Music and Painting in Captain Beefheart’s Work Those who, over the last twenty years, have loved the music of Captain Beefheart cannot forget that he decided to abandon the music scene (it would seem definitively) to devote himself full-time to painting. Specialist rock critics, who were left the sad task of a retrospective tribute to his career, each time have boldly tried to establish correlations bet-ween yesterday’s music and today’s painting, acting in a way that is markedly ‘reparative’ and which, implicitly placing diachronic continuity toRead 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”]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 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 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 →