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.
Alex was a fine slide, lead and rhythm guitarist. He could also play drums and trumpet. In the mid to late 1950s he hung out with Frank Zappa and played in an R&B group called The Omens. In 1964 he pulled together the musicians that would become Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band. To all intents and purposes Alex was the original ‘Captain’! It was his determination, organisation and leadership that made this an exciting blues band. But as time went on Don took control of the band and grew into the persona of Captain Beefheart marginalising Alex’s influence. Alex quit the band in 1968
It was with great sadness that I heard Alex had died from a massive heart attack. He was 64. One of the original Magic Band guitarists, Alex can justifiably be known as the original ‘Captain Beefheart’, being the prime mover to get the band together and the musical director and organiser in the early days. In an interview in 1973 Don was asked how it all started and he had this to say:- Alex St. Claire called me – you know, the fellow who was on ‘Safe As Milk’. He had a great influence on Jimi Hendrix when he was in England. Anyway, he calls
On the 18th January 1968, The Magic Band were involved in a bizarre and humorous incident which resulted in their being refused entry to the UK and deported to Hanover. Here is the cover sheet and text of the official report – the text originally came from the Edinburgh Review no. 86. Refusal of Leave to Land (Remarks) Mr VLIET was detained in the approved detention quarters in the Queen’s Building from 1230 hours until 1700 hours. He had previously remained in the Arrivals Hall. Mr VLIET is the leader of an american “pop group” known as Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band, which specialises in so-called
John French sent us news of the death of Alex Snouffer, aka Alex St Claire, guitarist, drummer and a founder member of Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band. John wrote, “I talked with Jerry Handley, who was probably the closest to Alex. Jerry just lost his Dad and Alex was at the funeral a couple of weeks ago. We reminisced about the early bands that were the forerunners of the Magic Band. ” Steve Froy’s full obituary for Alex Snouffer was added to this site on 9 January.