For many people on the first listen Trout Mask Replica just sounds awful. For those of us that grow to love it, it’s a masterpiece. If you don’t entirely get it yet, this 10 minute feature video from Vox nicely picks apart what’s going on and why so many of us consider it to be uniquely special. If you enjoy this and want something more in-depth then have a look at Samuel Andreyev’s analysis of Frownland and his extended conversation with John French.  Read More →

Magic Band Members: Mark Boston, John French, Bill Harkleroad, John Thomas, Art Tripp Is is a duck ? … is it a train? No, it’s the Magic Band after they left Beefheart in 1974. Bill Harkleroad (aka Zoot Horn Rollo) and bassist Mark Boston (aka Rockette Morton) decided to form their own band. John French joined on vocals and drums and John Thomas, who’d been with French in Rattlesnake & Eggs, played keyboards. Unfortunately only six demo songs were recorded with this line-up before French got the call to rejoin the Magic Band. Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson, a Magic Band fan and friend of MarkRead More →

Originally from Palmdale Bill soon hooked up with other hot shot players and future Magic Band members from nearby Lancaster. As a child he’d had accordion lessons but switched to the guitar in his early teens playing in local bands. One of these bands, B.C & The Cavemen, included Mark Boston on bass, another, Blues In A Bottle was with Mark again as well as Jeff Cotton. Bill hung around the Magic Band and occasionally jammed with them until finally joining the band in late June 1968 when Alex St Claire left. He stayed until 1974 when the whole band walked out on Don justRead More →

[alert_box type=”info”]This article was first published in Resonance magazine (London Musicians’ Collective). Many thanks to Ed for sending me this and granting permission to feature it. This is his ‘controversial’ look at the book Lunar Notes which takes a less-than favourable view of the personality of Don Van Vliet.[/alert_box] LUNAR NOTES; ZOOT HORN ROLLO’S CAPTAIN BEEFHEART EXPERIENCE Bill Harkleroad with Billy James 151 pp, illustrated SAF Publishing Ltd 1SBN 0 94671921 7 £11.95 ONE OF THE GREAT MUSICAL MINDS OF THE late 20th century, Don Van Vliet was a greedy, violent, spiteful, manipulative, self-important, lazy, cowardly control freak with a taste for flashy cars, hardRead More →

[alert_box type=”info”]This review for Bill Harkleroad and Billy James’ book was written by Andy Gill and appeared in the December 1998 edition of Mojo Magazine.[/alert_box] AS ZOOT Horn Rollo, Don Van Vliet’s most faithful lieutenant in The Magic Band, Bill Harkleroad was one of the most influential guitarists in rock music, though as this memoir makes clear it was always a labour of love, first and foremost. Not only did he have to suffer the bizarre whims of Beefheart’s absurd regime but, as he reveals here, he ultimately received “no money whatsoever” from any of the albums he played on. Harkleroad admits this was probablyRead More →

An insider’s story. Published by SAF Publishing Ltd ISBN 0 946719 21 7 Price £11.95 1998 151 pages 16 photographs Synopsis from the back cover: Bill Harkleroad joined Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band at a time when they were changing from a straight ahead blues band into something completely different. Through the vision of Don Van Vliet (Captain Beefheart) they created a new form of music which many at the time considered atonal and difficult, but which over the years has continued to exert a powerful influence. Beefheart re-christened Harkleroad as Zoot Horn Rollo, and they embarked on recording one of the classic rock albums ofRead More →

[alert_box type=”info”]This article first appeared in Mojo Magazine, December 1993 as an introduction to an interview with the man himself. Please also see John French’s response to this article.[/alert_box] He is alive. A recluse. Painting in seclusion up near the Oregon border. There have been weird signals through the ether since he stopped making music 11 years ago, but they were faint, confused, unintelligible. But now Dave DiMartino has finally made contact with the man who used to be Captain Beefheart. It is entirely fitting that Don Van Vliet, painter of international repute, and one of a handful of truly legendary figures in rock ‘n’ roll,Read More →

[alert_box type=”info”]March 2002, exclusive to beefheart.com[/alert_box] My first meeting with Don Van Vliet–whom I’ll just refer to as Beefheart–came on a rainy night about 12 hours before his wedding. It was November 1969; I was 19 years old. I was at my parent’s home in Northridge, California when the phone rang about 9:30 p.m. I thought it was my girlfriend whose house I had left an hour before. But it was my friend, Jan Jenkins. Jan had just been in a traffic accident while driving alone in Beefheart’s Volvo. She was not injured, but the Volvo had been towed. She needed a lift back toRead More →

My friend Art Tripp nailed it head to toe and I just can’t say it any better. Time erased all the injustices and I am left with all the incredible lessons learned. Such a rare and tremendously creative talent. I have to say it has taken me many years to recognize how truly rare a person he was. You have to be here awhile, or at least I did, to know Don Vliet’s don’t just happen. Don’s gone but look what he left us. Don’s gone and we’re next. Bill Harkleroad 19 December 2010Read More →

Mikko Kapanen, lead singer and guitarist of Helsinki, Finland based “psychedelic hard rock” band Spektriis wrote in. The band is currently finishing up work on its debut album which they are hoping to have released some time in the first half of 2009. “The reason I’m telling this,” Mikko wrote, “is that we had the immense pleasure of getting Bill Harkleroad to record a guitar solo for one of the tracks. We have uploaded five out of the ten tracks on the album to our MySpace profile at http://www.myspace.com/spektriis including the track in question, called “Black Hole Eyes”. We made a point of not mentioning Harkleroad’s participationRead More →

Zoot Horn Rollo passes comment on the 25th anniversary of John Lennon’s murder by an idiot in Oregon’s Register Guard paper: Local guitar teacher Bill Harkleroad, named one of Rolling Stone magazine’s “100 greatest guitarists” ever in 2003, admired Lennon more for his social and political views, for taking “risks to say what he thought,” than for his musical legacy. Harkleroad, better known as Zoot Horn Rollo when he played guitar for Captain Beefheart & the Magic Band more than three decades ago, said Lennon and U2’s Bono are among the few rock legends who had the ability to use their fame that way. “ImagineRead More →