Denny Walley was born in Pennsylvania and lived for a time in New York before his family moved him to Lancaster when he was about 12 (around 1955) – his father was transferred with his job in an aircraft company. At this time Denny was playing the accordion for which he’d found a natural affinity and which his parents had allowed him to take lessons.

In high school Denny hooked up with Frank Zappa through Frank’s brother Bobby often driving them to music rehearsals despite being only 14 or 15. Although he knew of Don Vliet he wasn’t acquainted with him at this time.

Denny doesn’t figure in the Beefheart story until he became the guitarist with the Mothers on the 1975 Bongo Fury tour. He obviously impressed Don who asked him to join the Magic Band for the European and US tour of 1975. He stayed until 1977 when he was sacked; probably for standing up for himself too much. His fine slide playing added an extra harder-edged bluesy feel to the Magic Band.

Unfortunately it was a long while before any recording he did with the Magic Band became commercially available. It wasn’t until 2012 and the release of Bat Chain Puller. Although he can be heard on Bongo Fury.

Solo

  • 198? US 7″ Who Do / Tiny Tattoo on Glider Records GLIDER A-101. Written, arranged and produced by Denny with Vinny Colaiuta on drums, Ed Mann percussion, Tommy Mars keyboards and Reggie McBridge bass. Presumably the Beefheart-related name for the record label is not a coincidence. Distributed by Panda Records owned by Andy “Panda” Cahan, keyboard player with Geronimo Black.
    Thanks to Greger Lindquist for this information. He says “the music is a kind of Zappaesqe blues with heavy slide guitar from Denny and groovy backbeat from Vinnie, its a real nice item “
  • 1997 Swedish CD Spare Parts on UAE disc 5. The Zappa and Beefheart slide guitarist gets back to his blues roots with Swedish musicians Morgen Agren and Mats Oberg. Two Zappa songs are also included.

Magic Band Albums

The Magic Band Reunion

Music of Captain Beefheart Live

  • 1996 Swedish CD The Music of Captain Beefheart Live on UAE disc 3.
    Walley joined these Swedish musician Beefheart fans in this tribute band to coincide with the ‘Stand Up To Be Discontinued’ art exhibition. They played a couple of live gigs, a radio show as well as this recording this CD. Freddie Wadling makes a pretty good attempt at the vocals and the band do justice to the Beefheart songs they tackle.

Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart & The Mothers

Southern Fried

  • 1970 US vinyl A Little Taste of Southern Fried on Mercury 61338
    Denny plays guitar on this album, as does Gerry McGee who was also, very briefly, in the Magic Band (replacing Ry Cooder).

Mothers of Invention

  • 1979 Joe’s Garage: Act 1
  • 1979 Joe’s Garage: Acts 2 & 3
  • 1981 Tinseltown Rebellion
  • 1981 Shut Up N Play Yer Guitar
  • 1981 You Are What You Is
  • 1984 Thing Fish
  • 1988 Guitar
  • 1988 You Can’t Do That on Stage Anymore, vol. 1
  • 1989 You Can’t Do That on Stage Anymore, vol. 3
  • 1991 Saarbrucken 1979
  • 1991 You Can’t Do That on Stage Anymore, vol. 4
  • 1991 Any Way The Wind Blows
  • 1992 At The Circus
  • 1992 You Can’t Do That on Stage Anymore, vol. 6
  • 1995 Strictly Commercial
  • 1997 Have I Offended Someone?
  • 1997 Strictly Genteel
  • 1998 Cheap Thrills

Geronimo Black

Denny has also been involved with Geronimo Black who included a number of ex-Mothers and a former member of Love; Jimmy Carl Black, Andy “Pandy” Cahan, Tom Leavy, Bunk Gardner, Tjay Cantrelli, Don Preston, Ray Collins & Buzz Gardner. Another ex-Magic Band guitarist, Gerry McGee, also appears on ‘Welcome Back’.

  • 1972 US vinyl Geronimo Black on UNI-MCA Records 73132
  • 1980 US vinyl Welcome Back on Helios Records HR 440-5
  • 199? US CD Geronimo Black on MCA Records MCACD22114

Thanks again to Greger Lindquist for the Geronimo Black information.

Grandmothers

  • 1982 US Looking up Granny’s Dress on Rhino Records
  • 1993 US A Mother of an Anthology on One Way Records 28880. Denny plays bass, guitar and tambourine, as well as adding vocals and producing.

Kathryn Scheldt

  • 2009 US CD Southern Girl on Shellkat Enterprises (via CD Baby)
    A bit of a departure here with Denny playing slide on this country tinged album by an Alabama singer songwriter. He’s on the title track and a song called ‘Stop Stoppin’

Robert Williams

  • 1981 US vinyl Buy My Record on A&M SP-012401
    Denny plays slide guitar on one track of this four track mini-album
  • 1982 US vinyl Late One Night on A&M Records AMLH 64889.
    Denny plays slide and adds backing vocals to the song ‘Let It Slide’ on former Magic Band drummer’s first solo album.

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