aka Herb Masters The search for the mystery co-songwriter from ‘Safe As Milk’ Of the 12 songs on the ‘Safe As Milk’ album 8 are co-credited to someone called Herb Bermann. Who was he? No-one at the time seemed to know, he wasn’t a member of the band, he didn’t co-write any songs on the following albums and he was never mentioned in interviews. Very strange. Some fans thought he may have been an anonymous staff-writer foisted on Beefheart to keep the lid on his eccentricity … or, maybe, he was a friend of the producer or an agent getting a cut of the royalties.
He wrote Plastic Factory, now he sells credit cards – the careers of a Zig Zag Wanderer Second telephone interview between Herb Bermann and Derek Laskie, Tuesday 10th February 2004 (see part one) In The Malibu Times piece you mention that you’ve done other collaborations with music. I was wondering what these might be. Oh gosh, I meet once or twice a year with several songwriters and musicians and we write new material. Marty Grebb, an original Buckingham from Lindsey Buckingham’s group in the sixties, Marty’s a one-man band. Marty toured with Bonnie Raitt for twenty-five years. Marty and I collaborate at least once or
First telephone interview between Herb Bermann and Derek Laskie Tuesday 13th November 2003 I’d just like to start talking about your poetry, your recent reading for example. How did that go? It went very well. It was very well received. It was some fresh poetry that came to me. Beyond Baroque is the premiere venue for West Coast poets and poetry. It was a packed house and everyone showed up courteously in the thank-you line. So the kid’s still got it, his legs aren’t gone yet. The kid? Me, meaning me. I’m sixty-seven now. I think I’m eight or nine years senior to Don Van
Don Van Vliet and Herb Bermann wrote the songs ‘Can Fever’ and ‘Bone Crazy’. The BMI website says so, and BMI should know. BMI keeps comprehensive records of the people who write, compose and publish songs. You’ll look in vain through the Beefheart catalogue to find ‘Can Fever’ and ‘Bone Crazy’. Even the most hardcore of Beefheart scholars have never heard these songs. So when these titles were found at BMI, years of general wonderment and speculation ensued. What might these songs be? With Herb Bermann as a co-writer, could ‘Can Fever’ and ‘Bone Crazy’ be missing songs from ‘Safe As Milk’? No demos or