On 22nd November 1980 The Magic Band gave a storming performance of Ashtray Heart and Hot Head in front of a studio audience for Saturday Night Live.

Ashtray Heart

Hot Head

According to Doug Stacey:

“The person yelling “Shit!” at the end of the SNL performance was Radames Pera, the once child actor playing “Grasshopper” in the TV show “Kung Fu.” He was disgusted with the Beefheart performance. It was evidently his first exposure to Don’s music.”

Robert Williams, the Magic Band drummer, commented on this heckling:

“After the show we went to an after show party at a bar in Manhatten with the cast including Malcom MacDowell. Charles Rocket introduced me to Radames and we became friends. I gave him the Beefheart sales pitch and managed to convert him into a fan.

“Two days later we played a show at the Beacon Theatre and when the union guys cut our show short, Radames got on the microphone and tried to rile the audience with something like, “Hey! We’re not going to take this, are we?!”

Many thanks to Robert for this story.

Apologies for the lack of full band shots here – every capture I tried to do blurred everyone but Don…


  1. Both Hot Head & Ashtray Heart are excellently played & transferred to the “Hoboism” cd. The rest of that disc is one of my favorite Bootleg cds.

  2. Beefheart Drummer Robert Williams’ story about me and what happened that night and a couple of days later is true and accurate.

  3. Thanks for a cool site! Who is playing guitar in this 1908 nov 22 SNL clip?

    1. The guitarists are Richard ‘Midnite Hatsize’ Snyder (with the hat) on the left and Jeff Moris Tepper on the right. Eric Drew Feldman plays keyboards but also plays a bit of bass guitar.

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