2016 has been a bad news year for all sorts of reasons … unfortunately here’s some more of the same…

On 15 December John French posted this on The Magic Band Facebook page:

I have decided not to pursue any more tours. There is precious little demand these days, and not enough offers to actually support any group. I have sincerely enjoyed the actual tours, but the five to six months leading up to them is filled with tedious details. Too much time is spent on the business and not enough on the music. Since I founded the whole project in 2002, the difficulty level in putting a good tour together has increased exponentially. I have decided, since gaining recognition in Rolling Stone Magazine as “#48” of the top 100 drummers, to pursue the idea of conducting drum clinics. This is something that I can do independently and will probably enjoy immensely. Thanks for your interest and support through the years.

This probably doesn’t come as a great surprise to some of us, especially those who have spoken to John behind the scenes over the years.

I remember the excitement about the project when John first mentioned it to me back in 2002 and I encouraged him to do it as I was certain there were plenty of fans out there who’d want to hear Don’s music played live again. However for some reason US venues were not willing to book the band which made it very difficult for them to make reasonable money from touring. The UK and Europe were lucky to see them visit many times but even here venues began ignoring the band. Sadly it has become harder each year for John to put together a profit-making tour. It was only a matter of time before he would have to call it a day.

In its 14 years of existence the band underwent a few changes of personnel but never lost sight of what it was doing … playing Don’s music with precision, enthusiasm, passion, humour and respect.

Thanks to Mark Boston, Gary Lucas, Robert Williams and Denny Walley for donning their Magic Band personas once again. Thanks also to Michael Traylor, Craig Bunch, Eric Klerks, Andy Niven, Max Kutner and Brian Havey for taking the time to learn all that stuff and carrying the flame for a younger generation of Beefheart fans!

But most of all a big thanks to John French for all his efforts in planning the tours as well as his work on stage, and, of course, off stage patiently taking his time talking to all those wide-eyed nutjobs. Thanks for keeping Don’s music live … and making one hell of a lot of old farts very happy indeed.

My brother took the picture below at the band’s last UK gig at Under The Bridge in July 2016. When he showed it to me then we both thought it was somehow prophetic…


Steve Froy
December 1016


  1. You are a good man Zoot Horn Rollo. Best of luck in all your endeavors. Don Plaisance

    • Tony says:

      Zoot Horn wasn’t involved with this project. John French is Drumbo. Bassist Mark Boston is Rockette Morton.
      Zoot Horn Rollo is guitarist Bill Harkleroad (Magic Band 1969-1973).

  2. Philip Cowdry says:

    Sorry to hear this news but respect the decision. Grateful to have enjoyed some great shows over the years and was particularly impressed by John’s vocals on the last tour. All the Magic Band guys should be proud of their contributions to Beefheart music. Good luck to them in the future.

  3. Mick Barry says:

    Oh no! But thank you John and the band for making me and a load of Beffheart virgins very happy. I introduced the band to a umber of friends with universal acclaim. I was at the last show in London in July thankfully and have seen the band a number of times over the years. Their commitment and application in learning the set list was amazing, so thanks particularly to Eric Klerksdorp for his brilliant work on the last few tours. Good luck with whatever you all do.x

  4. Mick Barry says:

    I meant Eric Klerks of course damn predictive predictive

  5. Paul Brown says:

    Ah.. Tis a sad, tis a sad day, to not be looking ahead to 2017 for the heartwarming news that The Magic Band will be hitting our shores again.. I find it downright sad that these much loved musicians cannot get some gigs locally to help fund the cogs in the States, yet they can fill The Bridge in London every year (and often on successive days..)

    The fact that the Band managed to fly in for Zappanale and a Show in London gave me hope that this could be a regular annual event..

    Anyway>. May I thank you sincerely John (and all Members..) for the smiles you put on our faces hearing this music performed again and whether you come for solo Gigs or bring the Band we will support you as we have always done.. Here’s to a Happy & Healthy 2017. God Bless..

  6. Stephen Chillemi says:

    Sorry to hear about the end of the Magic Band. You have to do what you have to do….
    Thank You for the music.

  7. Nick Beddow says:

    very sad news but you’ve been fantastic and kept alive wonderful music. Hope you all enjoy whatever you’re doing now.

  8. Oldrik says:

    Oh, man! Business matters have crushed another fine specimen of art and entertainment again. John and the guys have kept their act alive for so long, we should all salute to that! I went to see the band in Duisburg, Germany a couple of years ago and it was astonishing how fantastic they sounded! My mates and I could not believe what was happening there – it was so alive and intense! Truly one of the greatest gigs I’ve ever been to!! Talked to the guys in the band afterwards, had my poster signed. They were all such nice people.
    This might be the last proof that the music world is really nothing more than a big money-printing machine for the wrong acts when terrific musicians like The Magic Band can’t afford to be on the road anymore. So let’s all go and see Lady Gaga for 200 bucks in Madison Square Garden…
    To avoid ending on a bitter note: Thanks to all you magic people, especially John, for having kept this alive and kicking for so long. Thanks for sharing the magic with us!

  9. edward kaley says:

    Sad news, best of luck John. One great and very talented drummer – just like all of the Magic Band.
    Great memories.

  10. Mott the Hoople says:

    Sad news but not unexpected.

    A heartfelt thanks to John and all members of the Magic Band for the unconfined joy I have experienced since watching the re-vamped band in 2005.

    Best wishes for the future to all and in particular John and here’s hoping he finds fulfilment in whatever he chooses to do in the future.

  11. bigeyedbean says:

    God Bless The Magic Band & All Who Sailed In Her!

    Those of us privileged to have seen the Cap’n in full pomp with various incarnations of the band will know that Drumbo has done an amazing job keeping the embers glowing. The Magic Band Re-union project was always more than just a tribute band…..and the sight of young guitar-slinger Eric Klerks with an ear to ear grin as he ‘hit those lunar notes’ is just one memory that will stay with me. Also, so glad that my own music-mad son got to see Drumbo and the guys more than half-a-dozen times (including all the ATP’s and Glastonbury)….At least he knows just what I’m blabberin’ about!

    Happy New Year and Good Luck to Drumbo and all fellow Magic Band’ers in ventures to come. (Perhaps there just might be some eccentric billionaire who could underwrite a tour??)

  12. bzfgt says:

    This sucks!!!!!!!!!!! I really wanted to see them and didn’t get a chance. Good luck in the future, Drumbo!

  13. Alan Robertson says:

    I am devastated that I will no longer be able to enjoy the visceral and intellectual stimulation of a live Magic Band gig. John French has served us well for decades and in keeping this amazing music alive, for which I will be eternally grateful. I understand why he has decided that the lack of appreciation and understanding from promoters has made him wish to quit, but at the same time Captain Beefheart, Magic Band and Mallard fans will be always be wanting more live performances. Please reconsider

  14. bigeyedbean says:

    Hold the front page!…..Seems like there might just be one last tour of the UK by Drumbo & The Magic Band after all. More info to follow from AGMP website…..Under the Bridge beckons me’ thinks?

    • Steve says:

      Yes, this is a hoax … an April Fools Day joke. A very elaborate one too, quite a bit of thought has gone into it but a hoax nonetheless.

      • Steve says:

        There is a Magic Band tour imminent … in the UK and Europe during November 2017. The full list of venues will be posted here when we get confirmation from John French.

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