The Power Of Big Eyed Beans by Eric

Eric tells his story of a meeting with the Captain and how he came to be the proud owner of a Don Van Vliet sketch.

Some of the finer points of this tail may be a little out due to memory loss… but this is the gist of it:

It was the Clear Spot tour in the UK in ’73. We had seen it in Liverpool, where we all lived, and his next venue was Preston at the Preston Guild Hall. One of our gang was a guy called Tony, he was a rather slim Irish character with a larger than life personality. He had a way of getting himself noticed wherever he went just by his exhuberance, and had managed to get noticed at the Liverpool concert; by the Captain himself!

We had been talking of going to Preston to see the concert again, we had no tickets but thought we might be able to get in anyway. We had arranged nothing but on the spur of the moment some of us who were together at the time decided to go. We hired a car and left, hopefully with just enough time to get to Preston before the start of the concert. We had not been able to find everybody – we had Tony’s wife with us but not Tony. I don’t remember why this was the case but his wife was in some distress about the situation. I mean, he must have been the Captain’s biggest British fan and we couldn’t find him to tell him what we were doing!

Anyway, we arrived in Preston, parked the car and found the Guild Hall just in time, and we did get in! Now the management at this particular venue had a very strange attitude and would not let any body stand up, let alone boogie to the music. As the concert progressed the audience were getting more and more restless but each time somebody stood up to boogie a bouncer would come and force them back into their seat.

We were enjoying the music but Tony’s wife was feeling bad about not having him with us, and the attitude of the management was getting to everybody including the Captain. I think it was Big Eyed Beans that finally did it. A guy just forced his way into the isle down at the front and began to boogie away. The Captain showed his pleasure at this and bellowed, “Is no one going to come and dance with this man”. At this point it became apparent that the man dancing was the missing Tony. His wife, realising this, burst into tears of joy and raced down the isle towards him. The Captain had already recognised Tony from Liverpool and seemed to pick up on the significance of the unexpected but happy reunion of him and his wife. The management gave up trying to keep control at this point and the whole audience was getting up and boogying.

Our little crowd were all at the front and the Captain told Tony to hang around after the concert with his friends (us). It was then that the Captain did a sketch for me and another of us. For some reason I cannot remember, the meeting had to end before he could do one for each of us, which was sad.

Sometimes now when I think back it seems like a dream but the sketch proves I really did get to meet him.



  1. Would love to see the sketch, would it stand a scan?

  2. Lovely story. I think Don genuinely loved his fans.

  3. Great story. Sorry to see no scan of the sketch, but maybe you’ve sold it?

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