Thanks go to Patrick Grant for sharing some great pictures of the original Captain Beefheart and instigator of the group – Alex Snouffer.
Alex, also known as ‘Butch’, is here shown in some photographs from 1955 and 1957 taken for the Antelope Valley High School Yearbook. This High School was attended by several of the original members of the band.
Alex tended to mix with the ‘bikers’ of the area and was known as someone not to mess with.
I spent part of an afternoon with Alex in the late 1980s at his home in a Denver suburb – I think it was Englewood though my memory is a bit fuzzy some 30 years later! I found him to be friendly and open to my questions – I told him that I had purchased the first A&M 45 upon its initial release, had seen the band open for Van Morrison and Them at the Whiskey A GoGo in the spring of ’66, and recalled how the Magic Band of that period sounded a lot more like a combination of Howlin’ Wolf and Muddt Waters than the later ‘psychedelic’ version heard on the later records … he agreed and briefed me on how things went down during the later Bob Krasnow and Frank Zappa phases as Alex’s own preference for R&B and blues succombed to ‘other influences’ and the rise of Don as leader of the band and Alex’s waning influence. At that stage Alex didn’t have any records by CB&theMB smith after I got back home I sent him a bunch of cassettes of the LPs and singles. He told me he was taking classes in what we now call I.T. – not sure if he ever actually worked in that field but maybe others know more on that … John Berg’s
Yes, I heard he was training in I.T. although at the time I think he was working in a kitchen (possibly of a hotel but not sure) and ended up being fired from that for standing up to the management over their treatment of a female member of staff. He was forced to live in his car for a time.
Sadly he died before I got a chance to interview him for the Radar Station.
Saw Alex three times when the band toured England in 1968. Although Don was the front man it looked to me as if Alex was the bandleader, with Jeff Cotton, Jerry Handley and John French following the chord changes and tempos from him (see the Cannes Beach video). The only other time I saw him was when he replaced Elliot ‘Winged Eel Fingerling’ in the Clear Spot band, when his playing was as sparkling as ever, but he was evidently a hired sideman in a frock coat rather than leading the band. Utterly amazing version of ‘Big Eyed Beans’ at Bristol Colston Hall!
John Stewart on Row 2?
I thoroughly enjoyed Steve Froy’s article on Butch and Alex. I was in high school with them, graduating in ’59. I remember the Blackouts playing for us at school dances. While I knew them fairly well, seeing them at parties, having a couple classes together, we were running somewhat in different circles.Don had a cool 50-51′ Merc, the real “lead sled”and I did a bit of cruising with him. I too, was saddened upon hearing of their deaths, way too young.
There was another musician by the name of Rex Jacobowski , who hung out with Butch, Don and Frank. Rex and I drove to Claremont to see Frank after he moved out of Lancaster. That was the last time I saw Frank. I ended up joining the Navy after high school and lost contact with Rex. Anyone know him and if he’s still among the living?? Lancaster certainly was home to a lot of talented guys.