Meet Mr Marimba

Art Tripp has spoken exclusively to the Radar Station about his time in the Magic Band.

From the astounding Lick My Decals Off Baby to the lacklustre Unconditionally Guaranteed, to the shortlived Mallard and his return for Shiny Beast Art offers a fascinating insight into the the recording of these albums and tells stories of life on the road and playing live.

Read the full interview.


  1. Art Tripp’s accounts of his tenure with Beefheart’s band is very matter of fact – almost unemotional. Art was a different type to the rest of the guys, maybe his age. I’d often wondered about Art’s part in the break-up. Comments such as “that fucker Vleit” and “Genius? He couldn’t even remember the words” and “Clear Spot was just like the normal crap you hear on the radio”. I recall other mentions of Art, on an English tour, encouraging the band to not play any of “the far-out shit”. He was always very professional – he comes across as almost “only professional” – like Frank’s album “We’re only in it for the money”. In the interview he hardly has anything good to say about Don – like “the band didn’t break-up, we just got another singer”. I get more and more confused. What can you say? Most seem to hold Don in complete awe, to Art he seems like someone who wrote a few cool tunes and that’s it. Just musical stuff to write on a score. Some of the stuff on “Decals” is mind-blowing and Art seems to belittle Don’s input. I don’t know where to stop or start.

  2. “Some of the stuff on “Decals” is mind-blowing and Art seems to belittle Don’s input.”

    From what I’ve read, it seems he very well understands how mind blowing that album was, and still is. You seem to pick out quotes and forget the overall context of decades worth of words. Not everyone falls under Beefhearts spell, it seems, and I for one enjoyed the interview thoroughly. It’s rather refreshing to read a different point of view, especially from someone who was actually involved rather than just relying on legends and second hand information.

  3. An excellent interview – what a treat to finally hear from Art Tripp after all these years. His perspective and recollections are significant additions to the record on Beefheart, the band & the music. More!

  4. Thanks for the comments everyone.

    Just to reply to Lloydie – I think the ‘lack of passion’ is more a result of the format of the interview rather than a fault of Art’s. The interview was conducted by email so that does tend to reduce the spontaneity and immediacy. I’m sure it would have been different if we’d been face to face and that we’d both been able to react to each other there and then.

    Art respected Don as a composer but I don’t think he held him in awe in the way that the other younger members of the band (or fans) might have done. Don’t forgot Art was an experienced performing musician and wouldn’t have been intimidated by Don’s mind games in the way that the Trout Mask band had been cowed.

    He loved playing Don’s music and still enjoys listening to it. But on a practical level Don could be a pain in the ass when it came to paying the band …

  5. Great interview, Steve- nice to see it all in one piece! Nice touch to add the Fireparty discussion stuff as well….

  6. I still have the drum stick that
    Art gave me at the Ritz Theater in Staten Island, NY in 1970, when I was 15 year old kid. You never forget stuff like that, thanks to all.

  7. Good interview yes, but “paying the band”? Since when do musicians deserve to be paid? Why, when I were a young lad blah blah blah.

  8. This was very entertaining! It is good to know that some of these guys are still out there keeping up after all these years, and Mr. Tripp has some interesting insight. It is good to see a different perspective rather than the same old idol worship. Well done!

  9. “Alice in Blunderland”in Room 222 dates from 1969 so any attempt to sue would have been v ill advised!

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