MU was a band formed by Jeff Cotton (aka Antennae Jimmy Semens) after he left the Magic Band in 1969. Cotton hooked up with friends Merrell Fankhauser, Larry Willey and Randy Wimer from his old band The Exiles. The band developed a subtle and mellow sound which was lifted above the average by Cotton’s fine slide work and some interesting rhythms. Their first single and debut album were released on very small labels and were not given the distribution and advertising they deserved. The band moved to Hawaii in 1973, Willey replaced by Jeff Parker on bass but the band fell apart the following yearRead More →

Denny King was yet another Lancaster based musician. This album of blues and boogie (which is well worth searching out) includes ex Magic Band members Alex St Claire (guitar, trumpet and production), and Doug Moon (harmonica), plus former Exiles drummer Greg Hampton. Alex St Claire also gets a co-writing credit on one song – “Desert Sand”. One of the tracks is the “Sure Nuff n Yes I Do”/”New Minglewood Blues” riff all over again. And some of the vocals have an occasional nod towards a Beefheartian growl. The song ‘Bessie Mae’ is an exact copy of the ”Tarotplane’ riff. Barry ‘Dr Demento’ Hansen wrote theRead More →

This was Jeff Cotton’s first band which he put together when he was only 14 with Merrell Fankhauser, who’d had several surf hits with The Impacts, and fellow high school friends Greg Hampton and Jim Ferguson. They recorded a number of songs, influenced by Buddy Holly and the British Invasion groups, that became hits locally during 1964 and 1965 but much of their output has not been released until the last few years. Although Cotton definitely played on many of earlier The Exiles tracks the band developed into an ever-changing collection of musicians centred around Fankhauser during 1966 and 1967 by which time Cotton hadRead More →

Often mis-spelt as Jerry, his first name is Gerald, so Gerry would the correct form. Only in the band for a matter of months Gerry McGee did have a significant impact on the future playing of the Magic Band. Coming from a country music background he played with a strong finger picking style using picks on fingers and thumb. He’d been doing session work (appearing on The Monkees first album) and playing in clubs around Hollywood. Gerry can’t recall how he came to be in the Magic Band, although it’s likely that he was called in by Bob Krasnow who knew him from session playing.Read More →

Cliff got the Magic Band job after Robert Williams had left the band to record a solo album. Unfortunately he only played on the Ice Cream For Crow album and appeared in the ICFC video before Don ended the band. In 1983 he joined the Red Hot Chili Peppers and recorded two albums before leaving in 1985 or 86. He has also played drums with Lydia Lunch, The Dickies and The Weirdos. He now makes a steady living composing film scores. Check out his website. A short piece with audio interview from September 2011 is available on the Film Music Magazine website Magic Band AlbumsRead More →

Already known as ‘Magic’, Gary hung out with Don Vliet when he was in Los Angeles in the early sixties. A bass player with jazz leanings (and he’s played with most of the well known names) he helped with Don’s musical education and played with the Magic Band on a number of occasions but was unwilling to kow tow to the large Beefheart ego on a regular basis. Gary was involved in the early production work on Safe As Milk. He stood in for Jerry Handley on bass at live shows during 1964-67 and joined the Magic Band for a short spell in 1968-69 (‘MoonlightRead More →

Magic Band Members: Mark Boston, John French, Bill Harkleroad, John Thomas, Art Tripp Is is a duck ? … is it a train? No, it’s the Magic Band after they left Beefheart in 1974. Bill Harkleroad (aka Zoot Horn Rollo) and bassist Mark Boston (aka Rockette Morton) decided to form their own band. John French joined on vocals and drums and John Thomas, who’d been with French in Rattlesnake & Eggs, played keyboards. Unfortunately only six demo songs were recorded with this line-up before French got the call to rejoin the Magic Band. Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson, a Magic Band fan and friend of MarkRead More →

From being a Beefheart fan Gary became Don’s manager along with his then wife, Ling. He occasionally performed on stage during the 1980/81 tours – reciting a poem (usually “One Man Sentence”, sometimes “Untitled”) or performing the solo guitar piece “Flavor Bud Living”. For the album “Ice Cream For Crow” he took up lead full-time alongside Moris Tepper while Rick Snyder moved to bass. Since the end of the Magic Band he has been very prolific in his own right, solo and within a band, releasing almost an album a year since 1991. His virtuoso solo live shows are awesome in the sounds he extractsRead More →

Catalogue number: OMWCD11 Label: Oxygen Music Works Released: 1999 Track list Rise Up To Be Bra Joe From Kilimanjaro Autobahn The Songstress On The Edge Of Heaven Album overview from Graham Johnston Gary Lucas @Paradiso is a tiny gem. It features just four tracks and 22 minutes of Gary recorded alone on stage with his guitar and electronics, and leaves you wanting about twice as much again. It was recorded at Amsterdam’s Paradiso club, at various shows that took place between 1996 and 1997, and is entirely free of overdubs, something which I find fairly mind-boggling. The four songs may well be familiar already to manyRead More →

  Gary was the drummer in the Magic Band from mid 1976 through to mid 1977. According to John French’s notes in the Grow Fins booklet he came into conflict with Don and quit the band just before a short tour of the Pacific North West coast. (John was asked to rejoin the band again to replace Gary, which he did). In his book John recalls seeing Gary perform with the band at the Troubadour and he wrote that “I was really impressed with [his] mastery of the beats and thought he was a great player”. Gary did not record with the band although recordingsRead More →

Although Ingber had recorded with Beefheart in 1969 (see ‘Alley Cat’ on The Lost Episodes CD) he was not called into the Magic Band when Jeff Cotton left. The Decals album was recorded with just the one guitarist. However when it came to the 1970 tour he was enlisted to support Bill Harkleroad. For the next two years he was in and out of the band, recorded The Spotlight Kid (Don giving him the space to solo on ‘Alice In Blunderland’), and returned again for the Knebworth/Roxy shows in July 1975 and the tour of the US and Europe later that year. The rather strangeRead More →

Rich Hepner was spotted by the Magic Band whilst they were on tour. Hepner was playing guitar in a band called the Fantabulous Jags at a bar in Denver. The Jags’ gimmick was the preposterously huge pompadour hairstyles all the band sported (see pic. Rich is second from top). His playing was sufficiently impressive for Alex St Claire to move from guitar to drums to accomodate him. Although he was only in the band a short while he did get to record on the A&M sessions with them as well as playing a number of live gigs. John French recalls seeing him play and wasRead More →

Victor was Don’s cousin, and seems to have been an unusual character. He had artistic inclinations but wasn’t a musician. He hung around with Don and the Magic Band on and off in the early years to such an extent that he became a member of the band for a short while. He played bass clarinet on Trout Mask Replica – possibly only on Hair Pie Bake 1 – and was part of the one-off incarnation of the Magic Band that played the Amougies Festival in 1969. This was the extent of his musical involvement although he was apparently going to be part of theRead More →

Kevin Delaney: When did you start painting? Victor Hayden: I think I started painting around 7. I don’t know why I have that number in my head, except that I like the imagery of 7. It was 7 or maybe younger. I realized then that I was absolutely obsessed with being an abstract expressionist. I was overwhelmed by the New York school of painting. My favorite of course being the least recognized to this day unfortunately, Franz Kline, who was known for his large black and white pieces, almost Japanese in their understated power. That really moved me, and that became my life goal andRead More →

Originally from Palmdale Bill soon hooked up with other hot shot players and future Magic Band members from nearby Lancaster. As a child he’d had accordion lessons but switched to the guitar in his early teens playing in local bands. One of these bands, B.C & The Cavemen, included Mark Boston on bass, another, Blues In A Bottle was with Mark again as well as Jeff Cotton. Bill hung around the Magic Band and occasionally jammed with them until finally joining the band in late June 1968 when Alex St Claire left. He stayed until 1974 when the whole band walked out on Don justRead More →

One of the original members of the Magic Band Jerry had been friends with Alex Snouffer for many years. Together they had already played in several bands around the Lancaster area. Although originally a rhythm guitarist Jerry moved over to bass for the Magic Band and gave the music a solid lolloping foundation, especially during the Mirror Man/Strictly Personal era. With a wife and family to support Jerry left the band towards the end of 1968. Although still ‘plunking’ around on a guitar he hasn’t bothered with professional music since. Magic Band Albums Safe As Milk Strictly Personal Mirror Man Interviews Steve Froy interviewed JerryRead More →

Bruce comes from a musical background. He’s the son of Dr William Fowler, a successful music educationalist, and his three brothers are also great musicians. His mastery of the trombone enables him to play any type of music. As a member of the Magic Band he played ‘air bass’; that is, he substituted for a conventional string bass player by playing his trombone through an octave splitter. This was first heard as part of the short-lived Knebworth band. After he’d left the band there was an occasion when he went to see them perform live and Don tried to get him to join them onstage,Read More →

Catalogue number: PRPCD024 Label: Proper Records Released: November 2008 Track list Bogeyman Bus Ticket Outta Town Blood on a Porcupine Quill City of Refuge Abandon Get so Mean Maybe That’ll Teach Ya To the Loft of Ravenscroft The Shirt off My Back Wicked Witch of War Whose Side Ya On The Withered Hand of Time Proper Records publicity Recognised among many as one of the most innovative percussionists of his generation, Drumbo now sets out to resurrect the style of music he helped make famous in Captain Beefheart’s legendary Magic Band. For his new CD, “City of Refuge,” Drumbo set out to inject new lifeRead More →

John was in and out of the Magic Band a number of times between 1967 and 1978. Before the Magic Band he had drummed on occasion for The Exiles (with Jeff Cotton) and fronted his own blues band, Blues In A Bottle, on vocals and harmonica (again with Cotton, as well as Mark Boston). There is some confusion over whether he was ever recorded with The Exiles, but it is definite that Blues In A Bottle was never recorded. Another band, Rattlesnake & Eggs, he formed with John Thomas also failed to leave a recorded legacy and his stint on vocals with the original MallardRead More →

As a young teenager Feldman had visited the Magic Band at the ‘Trout’ house in Woodlands Hills. In 1976 he was to join the band to play keyboards, accordion and bass after Don had sacked John Thomas for playing on the second Mallard album. After the demise of the Magic Band Feldman has been in demand as a sideman and as a producer, playing with Pere Ubu, Snakefinger, Polly Harvey to name only a few. He has been described as a “joy to work with too: so calm yet so surprising”. He has regularly toured as part of Polly Harvey’s band (playing bass and keyboards).Read More →