John Wilby pt 2 – John French’s Q&As 2000/1

In early / mid 2000 John French called on Radar Station visitors for some help writing his book, Beefheart: Through The Eyes Of Magic…

Name: John Wilby
Sent: Sunday, April 02, 2000 11:58 AM

Of all the numerous musicians who have cited Beefheart as an influence, who are the ones that band members feel have ‘got it right’?

Unfortunately, I have to plead total ignorance here. I personally have to admit that I have no interest in reading rock articles, so I would even know how to begin to answer this. I don’t listen to music, generally and never have. Perhaps this is an area in which I will do some research. Basically, what I’m trying to do with this book, is tell the story of the band through their eyes and mine.

I did read one article by the original drummer for Pearl Jam. Can’t recall his name, but he cited Trout Mask as an album he listened to and was influenced by. I thought his description and his concept of the music was pretty accurate. Probably why he didn’t last with Pearl Jam for long…

Also, who is the Greg ‘Ella Guru’ Davidson who played at Knebworth, Grow Fins says little about him. Where did he come from and go to?

There will be a complete story of Greg “Ella Guru” Davidson in the book. I have been in touch with Greg and hope to have an interview with him, time permitting. He hails from Chicago, and is hoping to release a tape he recorded of an impromptu performance including himself on guitar, Don on Soprano, and me on drums. It is centred around the P-K-Ro-P beat (the Ant Man Bee beat), and from what I heard over the phone, is a performance I would think Beefheart fans would enjoy.

Greg met Don during the Bongo Fury tour, had been a long-time fan, and was an extremely adept blues guitarist. He was a brilliant and funny guy with a great sense of humour and a very caring attitude. Being Jewish, Don’s original name for him was “Jewbo,” because we also had Jimmy Carl Black (Indian Ink) on drums besides me. Jimmy thought the name was really funny, but Greg felt it to be bordering on what today would be considered an “ethnic slur,” and declined.

I didn’t spend a lot of time speaking of Greg in the Grow Fins set, because he was only in the band for a total of six weeks, maybe less. We played a TV show in Chicago (which never aired) then Knebworth, and finally a couple of nights at the Roxy in Hollywood. Then Greg returned to Chicago, promising to return, but never doing so. I think he was homesick and felt that he needed to take a more meaningful direction with his life. I always felt he made the right choice. He is presently a Doctor.

– John French

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