Don Van Vliet aka Captain Beefheart was a visionary in the field of music. His backing group was called Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band and started out as a Blues outfit.
Drummer John French joined in 1966 to help record the album, Safe as Milk — referring to the strontium-90 content found in lactating mother’s milk. A collection of classic albums followed, including Strictly Personal, Trout Mask Replica, Lick My Decals Off, Baby, Mirror Man, The Spotlight Kid and Bat Chain Puller. The personnel of the Magic Band constantly changed over time and the name came to refer to whoever was backing the legendary Captain Beefheart at the time.
Van Vliet retired in 1982, after a career of sixteen years and thirteen original albums plus many bootlegs. He became a painter, withdrawing more and more from the public, eventually succumbing to complications of MS in 2010.
John French re-formed The Magic Band back in 2003. They debuted at the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival and have toured, mainly in the UK and Europe, irregularly ever since.
The lineup of The Magic Band who will be playing this final tour are:
John “Drumbo” French / Lead Vocals, Harmonica, Sax, Drums
Eric Klerks / Extended Ranch guitar, BKP Vocals
Max Kutner / Guitar and Slide guitar
Jonathan Sindelman / Keyboards
Andy Niven / Drums
Sharing the vision of celebrating the music of the late Don Van Vliet aka Captain Beefheart, original member John "Drumbo" French will share the stage with guitarists Eric Klerks & Max Kutner (from the Grandmothers of Invention, replacing Denny Walley), and drummer Andrew Niven to re-visit the classic Beefheart tunes with renewed fervour on this the final ever tour.
Don Van Vliet aka Captain Beefheart, was a musical visionary, who formed "Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band" as a blues group. They created an album 'Safe as Milk' which was picked up by John Peel - who played it to an increasingly interested audience of radio-listeners. Their second release 'Strictly Personal' led to a short tour of the USA before they created their ground-breaking album 'Trout Mask Replica'. Produced by Frank Zappa - who gave the band just six hours to record the bulk of a double album in a single evening (they only needed four and half hours) the creation of the album was shrouded in mystery and rumours - that eventually morphed into legend. Van Vliet himself fuelled some of the speculation, claiming to have written the album in a day - when the band had actually spent nine months, holed up in a two-room bungalow, enduring gruelling 18-hour rehearsals.
Audiences were initially confused by the bands newest work - looking for the missing backbeat and asking themselves why it was so rhythmically complicated or even 'out of tune', but eventually many listeners reached the same concensus - that The Magic Band had created the best rock n' roll album of all time.
Van Vliet eventually redrew from the limelight and died in 2010, meanwhile John French had reformed the line-up from the Trout Mask Replica in 2003 and started touring. The line-up changed, but the musicians dedication to the music, and possibly more importantly the process that had gone into producing it, remained consistent under French's leadership and their tours and live recordings were well received. Fourteen years after reforming The Magic Band and taking them back out on the road John French has decided to stand-down so this will be the final chance to see this incredible music played live.