The front cover of Strictly Personal was, at the time, quite unusual although it didn’t really hint at the strangeness that lay within those vinyl grooves. However, if you opened up the gatefold sleeve you were confronted head-on with the weirdness that was Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band even if he did say himself that “I may be hungry but I sure ain’t weird”. This certainly wasn’t your usual band photo call, no cheesy smiles, no macho posturing or no dodgy hairdos.

Have you ever wondered who was who in that iconic photograph by Guy Webster?

Well, we can tell you. Thanks to Jerry Handley …

Left to Right: Jeff Cotton, Alex St Claire, Don Van Vliet, John French, Jerry Handley

The story behind this photo shoot is that the band had been taken to the Western Costume rental in Hollywood where they rummaged around for some suitable attire.

The mask that Don is wearing has been identified as being used in the 1951 film directed by Edgar G. Ulmer, The Man from Planet X. Here are some stills of the alien from that film:

Nobody has yet been able to offer suggestions for the origins of the other headgear.

In one reissue of the album on Liberty a negative of the original photo was used:

Here are a couple more photographs from that session.

Don is holding his shehnai (sometimes it’s called a simran horn), a double reed instrument from the Indian sub-continent. It’s usually made of wood with a wood or metal flared bell.

At the same session they were photographed as their alter-egos, the 25th Century Quakers although the concept didn’t really get followed through:

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