Trout Mask Replica promo pack

These poems by Don Van Vliet are from a Trout Mask Replica promo pack which was recently auctioned at eBay. I am uncertain whether there was originally a poem for John French as well, but as he was famously uncredited on the album this seems unlikely. Thanks to Gary L. for alerting me to these.

Uncut manipulation

Uncut magazine for November 2007 has a five page article about, “the men who made Trout Mask Replica and survived. Just…”

John French, Bill Harkleroad, Mark Boston and Gary Marker were interviewed by David Cavanagh who paints a lurid picture of the making of the album. Brainwashing, control and manipulation are the major themes explored here. John French draws an analogy between Don Van Vliet and Charles Manson in which Don is by far the more powerful figure.

Small details are brought to light for the first time. It was news to me that mirrors were placed on Don’s piano so that he could see whether his musicians were paying attention to his playing. Details of the victimisation of Jeff Cotton are also revealed.

New photographs and an old Stingray

The Uncut article includes a photograph of Don which will be new to many of us. Unfortunately Uncut does not say anything at all about the image, so I will.

The picture shows Don Van Vliet at the wheel of his “orange pumpkin-coloured” 1972 Chevy Corvette Stingray. Caroline Boucher remembers that Don bought the car with the advance which he received from Virgin Records. “‘Very dangerous car,’ he’d rumble, appreciatively. ‘All the fuel tanks run under the seats.'”

The photograph of Don and his Stingray is one of several which Chuck Krall took at Arcata – Eureka Air Terminal, and these can be seen, along with many other shots of Don and The Magic Band, at Getty Images website. Caroline Boucher’s recollections of writing a song with Don in the vicinity of the Stingray are at the Observer website and Moris Tepper’s memories of the colour of the car can be found in Mojo from February 1998.

Another previously unseen photograph of Don, taken in the desert at Palmdale in 1983, can be found in Neal Preston’s photo essay Iconic Photos.

Video and film watch

Footage of Don, Jan and The Tragics emerging from an airport arrivals hall, getting into their transport and arriving at their hotel prior to performing Mirror Man at Pinkpop in Holland in 1974 has turned up at YouTube. It starts at about 4 minutes into the clip. I suppose this has been taken from the DVD, ‘Pinkpop – Volume 1: The Vintage Years 1970 – 74’

Also from Holland, Rosa Ensemble perform two vintage Beefheart numbers, Blaat en Rook and Somberland.

In 1977, at San Francisco’s Palace of Fine Arts, there was a performance of Gimme Dat Harp Boy given by The Tubes.

The soundtrack of a new feature film Things We Lost In the Fire includes Captain Beefheart’s Clear Spot.

…and the kitchen sink

I’m pleased to note that The Idiot Bastard has at last come up with a sensible domain name. For all things Frank Zappa (and a few things Beefheart besides) click on his shiny new website at

‘The Boy Who Cried Freebird: Rock & Roll Fables and Sonic Story Telling’, a recent book by Mitch Myers, is said to include some Beefheart related content. At any rate there is a chapter entitled Captain’s Orders, which may or may not be the “quick Captain Beefheart review disguised as the prelude to a marital spat” referred to in a review at City Paper.

I mentioned some time ago that Rockette Morton was back in the recording studio, working on a Roger “Hurricane” Wilson album. Blues Strom Records now plan to release the record in spring 2008.

Miles Massicotte intends to completely transcribe Trout Mask Replica, all instruments, in its entirety. It is his hope to make the transcriptions available at this website. He asks anyone with any tabs or licks to send them to him at

“Do you want to meet Captain Beefheart in Waitrose?”

I’d just received word of a completely unsubstantiated story that Don Van Vliet had been spotted at Safeway in Arcarta when I stumbled across some remarks made by Robert Plant. He was talking to The New Zealand Herald about meeting his heroes, or rather not meeting them even though they were present.

“…sometimes it’s fantastic just to stay a fan and not have your bubble burst. I mean, do you want to meet Captain Beefheart in Waitrose? Of course not.”


  1. postonavion says:

    How long til David Kavanagh’s Uncut article can be put in the Radar Station archive ? Has anyone asked him for permission or does Uncut hold the copyright ?

  2. J Briggs says:

    Don spotted in Safeway? I want to hear more about that…

  3. Anonymous says:

    Uhhh… Arcanta?

  4. Clark Gwent says:

    Arcanta not far from Eureka if you do Google map…
    That Mascara Snake poem was later Winged Eel’s poem (with the name changed) it still works

  5. Johnny Danger says:

    No mention of Drumbo’s forthcoming “City Of Refuge” album then?

  6. wrayb says:

    This, sir, is quite an update.


Leave a Comment »

Popular topics:

1977 | 2017 | Alex Snouffer | Anton Corbijn | Art Tripp | Bat Chain Puller | Beat Club | Benjamin Horrendous | Big Eyed Beans From Venus | Bill Harkleroad | Bluejeans and Moonbeams | Bongo Fury | Byron Coley | Cal Schenkel | Captain Beefheart The Biography | China Pig | Clear Spot | Collaborations | Covers | Creem Magazine | Dave Dimartino | Death | Denny Walley | Derek Laskie | Doc At The Radar Station | Don Aldridge | Down Beat | Elaine Shepherd | Encounters in the wild | Eugene Chadbourne | Exhibitions | Frank Zappa | Gary Lucas | Gary Marker | Graham Johnston | Grow Fins | Henry Kaiser | Herb Bermann | Ice Cream For Crow | Interview | Jan Van Vliet | Jasper Leach | Jeff Cotton | Jimmy Carl Black | John French | John Lennon | John Peel | Knebworth | Knoedler and Co | Kristine McKenna | Legendary A&M Sessions | Lester Bangs | Lick My Decals Off Baby | Los Angeles Times | Magic Band reunion | Mark Boston | Mascara Snake | Michael Eivaz | Michael Traylor | Michael Werner Gallery | Mike Barnes | Mirror Man | Mojo Magazine | New York Times | Nona Hendryx | Nulsh | Orange Claw Hammer | Orange Claw Hammer (band) | Outtake | Pamela Des Barres | Phonograph Record Magazine | Retirement from music | Revenant | Rhino Handmade | Robert Palmer | Rolling Stone | Ry Cooder | Safe As Milk | Shiny Beast | Sounds | Spotlight Kid | Steve Froy | Strictly Personal | Sugar 'N Spikes | Sundazed | The Artist Formerly Known As Captain Beefheart | The Dust Blows Forward | The Guardian | The Independent | The Lost Episodes | The Wire | Through The Eyes Of Magic | Tom Waits | Tragic Band | Tributes | Trout House | Trout Mask Replica | Unconditionally Guaranteed | Victor Hayden | Wha?
Captain Beefheart Radar Station - about us