[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 →

Well the only time I ever saw Don was at Knebworth around 1974/5 when they used to have those outdoor festivals in the summer. Remember? I was watching with some friends, having never previously heard any of his stuff at all. I can plainly remember John Peel coming on and introducing Don this way: ‘here he is: the guvnor!’, clearly remembered even though I was undergoing an artificially-induced religious experience… I was scared to death. The only way I could survive was to lie down between the legs of a mate’s girlfriend for an hour or so, while the man did his set and IRead More →

I have been a Beefheart fan for about 30 years now and have many stories I could tell about how I feel and about collecting his music etc., but will save all that for another time. One story I would like to tell, though: I saw The Captain at Irving Plaza in NYC the day after John Lennon was killed (12/9/80.) The crowd was in a melancholy mood, waiting for the show to start. When the Captain finally hit the stage, he began the show with an improvised soprano sax solo, which lasted for a few minutes. When it was over, he bent over theRead More →

I am writing to you from my home in Colorado around midnight. I have been a longtime Cap’n B fan (since 1972) when I first had my reality changed by way of Lick My Decals Off. I was only 15 at the time and living in Brooklyn, NY, where I was born and raised. It was my brother who first introduced me to the Magic Band. What remains to this day as some of the coolest things I have ever witnessed are the concerts. I had heard, from my brother and his crew, fabulous stories of the live Magic Band. How Rockette Morton would doRead More →

[alert_box type=”info”]Robert writes about seeing The Magic Band in the Netherlands, and meeting Don.[/alert_box] I first got to know about Captain Beefheart through the music of Frank Zappa. I didn’t know what to do with this strange music. The story of the Simpsons guy, Matt Groening, is very accurate. I had exactly the same experience: I got Trout Mask Replica on tape and it all sounded very messy, as if there were no different songs on the album. My recording was of a German Straight pressing which had no song seperation – confusing. Then, in November 1980 the Captain was coming to the Netherlands. AtRead More →

[alert_box type=”info”]D. Whitney Quinn witnesses a stage invasion at a Magic Band gig.[/alert_box] I have had the pleasure of seeing Beefheart at least a dozen times between 1972 and 1980, starting with “Clear Spot” line-up. The first time I saw him he was headlining at a theater-in-the-round in Phoenix, Arizona in 1973, and Little Feat was the opening act. It was a rather bizarre venue – the moving stage did a full revolution every five minutes, so although all the seats were close the perspective kept changing. After Little Feat put on a superb show, there was a lull between sets, and then suddenly, some… GUYSRead More →

[alert_box type=”info”]Eric tells his story of a meeting with the Captain and how he came to be the proud owner of a Don Van Vliet sketch.[/alert_box] Some of the finer points of this tail may be a little out due to memory loss… but this is the gist of it: It was the Clear Spot tour in the UK in ’73. We had seen it in Liverpool, where we all lived, and his next venue was Preston at the Preston Guild Hall. One of our gang was a guy called Tony, he was a rather slim Irish character with a larger than life personality. HeRead More →

[alert_box type=”info”]Richard Rainey on his first encounters with the Magic Band.[/alert_box] I went to school in England in ‘67-‘68, and discovered the John Peel show on the BBC on Sunday afternoons. I figured I had pretty good taste at the time, with my favorite groups being the Who, Beatles, Kinks, Cream, Doors, Love, Jimi, et al. And oh yes, don’t let me forget the greatest, baddest of all, the true Mother of all Bands, the STONES! So, one Sunday after finishing my studies and knocking off a few righteous hits of some really potent, pungent black Afghani, I turned on the radio.. JESUS CHRIST! WhatRead More →

[alert_box type=”info”]Joe Henderson writes about a surreal moment at a Magic Band gig.[/alert_box] I was interested in something I saw in one of the links from this site–a photo from one John Petraitus taken of a Zappa/Beefheart concert in Bloomington, Illinois, May, 1975. My girlfriend and I were at the next show (or the one before?) in St. Louis. It’s been so long ago that I don’t remember much about the concert, but one thing will always stick out for me. When the show finally began (after an interminable set by the band Styx featuring their unconvincing evocation of Jimi Hendrix with a psychedelic versionRead More →

[alert_box type=”info”]Charles Gee tells his superb story about his meeting with the Captain at the 1972 Bickershaw Festival. Highly recommended reading.[/alert_box] In 1972 I lived in Manchester. Not that far from Bickershaw, so when the festival arrived a group of us decided we would be fools not to go. We arrived on Friday evening and put our tent up outside the concert perimeter and went in. My recollections of the groups who were on Friday night are not vivid. I remember being impressed by Doctor John, as he threw his sparkly dust into the evening sky, but that’s about it. Saturday was much more memorable.Read More →

[alert_box type=”info”]Melvin de Snoids recounts his live exposure to Captain Beefheart & the Magic Band in 1970.[/alert_box] The first time I saw Captain Beefheart was in 1970 [1971 – Graham] at the Paramount Theatre in Portland, Oregon, shortly after the Lick My Decals, Baby album came out. My band-mates and I were sitting front-row, centre, along with our friend Matt Groening, who had introduced us to Beefheart via the Trout Mask Replica LP. First, Ed Marimba came out to a lone microphone that was center-stage, in front of the closed curtains. He was wearing the full-blown evening-suit with tails that he wore on the DecalsRead More →

Some fascinating footage has appeared on YouTube from 1969. Is it something not seen before or is it a much better version of the Trout Promo footage that has been doing the rounds for many years? (that was so dark it was almost impossible to make anything out). It appears to show Don and the band (Mark, John, Bill and Jeff) cavorting about and generally acting daft. The quality is not great – it’s dark (all black and white), the camera keeps moving and some of the film has been treated to look negative … … but even so it’s well worth watching. It wasRead More →

In 1984 Don and I had renewed our friendship for many years in north California after we’d both left the music biz. Our homes were only about a mile apart. He came to my office periodically for chiropractic treatment, and we’d also get together frequently just for laughs. In the late 1980’s he seemed to be developing some neurological symptoms which were resistant to cure from chiropractic adjustments. I told Don and Jan that he needed a consultation with a neurologist. He refused to go, and Jan was unable to convince him. Around 1992 he and I had a falling out. As a result, IRead More →

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 orRead More →