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March 30, 2009


John W. Fail

I'd say if you follow this AND "How to play guitar" by David Fair (which comes in the liner notes of the Half Japanese 'Greatest Hits' 2xCD) then you're pretty much set.


Most of these can be applied to drums as well.
Except drums attract the Orishas instead of Beelzebub.

Brad Nelson

I know this is redundant to say about Captain Beefheart, but what a goddamn badass.

just john

Regarding #3: Did he offer any advice on how to obtain a Bush, and what to feed him while you've got him held captive?

(Or how to politely invite Kate over?)


To this one should add Tom Waits' advice to young musicians:

"Break windows, smoke cigars, and stay up late. Tell 'em to do that, they'll find a little pot of gold."

T.J.K. Haywood

This man is a great philosopher. A vocalist , a painter, A butcher , a baker and a candlestick maker.
He is an elder statesmen of our tribe. We are A tribe of scattered strangers.


1. Listen to the birds.

i've always thought that 'the drazy hoops! the drazy hoops!' that you can see as they whir were gambrel's quail. maybe they are.

Neal Burgess

I love Beefheart's music, but the guy was talking out of his ass for most of his career. Without his Magic Band (and especially without John French), he couldn't do much except write confusing lyrics, blow his nose with his soprano sax and make even more confusing painting.


I think this is what happened to Gary Lucas... :)

Will Sergeant

Believe the Captain.
The Captain knows the stuff your mind will never know,
unless the captain tells you so.


All very cryptic and poetic as is his wont. But while his band were playing the most difficult music in the world 'without thinking' he couldn't even remember his own god-damnned lyrics, or where to come in.


Don't forget Richard Lloyd's guidance on You Tube.


sound advice i would say


I've heard that Eric Dolphy used to sit in his backyard in Los Angeles with his flute-listening to and playing along with the birds...

rey cruz

The Captain knows of what he speaks. Fellow musical genius/artist/philosopher Hermeto Pascoal also says "Listen to the birds".


#1 -

Michael Chagnon

In Captain Beefheart's name... Amen.

andrew rohn

Goofy but inspiring. Also brings to mind something that Miles Davis said -- "Don't be afraid to make mistakes, because there are none."


When I was trying to play guitar, and then bass, I followed one of these rules, but only one. Probably explains why I sounded good to myself for a while, but eventually realized that I sounded lame to everyone else.


I don't believe vV said this.
Maybe the first one, but the rest, nah
Where, When, etc??


Yes, it's real. The Beefheart Radar Station has it:

Graham Jones


John “ Drumbo” French

Beefheart: Through The Eyes Of Magic

The ultimate book about Captain Beefheart written by the man who spent more time with him than most.

Published in hardback.

880 pages, including 16 pages of amazing photographs, many published for the first time.

Includes reminiscences from key members of

The Magic Band and The Mothers Of Invention.

Cover price £19.95.

Out 11/01/2010.

Distributed by Music Sales.

ISBN 9780956121219

Few names carry such formidable mystique and rabid cult status as Captain Beefheart, who led various lineups of his Magic Band to make some of the most startling, ground-breaking albums of the last century. In 1982, he retired to concentrate on painting, leaving the mythology he’d stoked himself to grow untamed over the years.

John French is better qualified than anyone to talk about Beefheart, joining the Magic Band in 1966 at the age of 17 just before recording their Safe As Milk debut album, finding himself plunged into a tyrannical regime which would dominate his life for the next 14 years as he played a major role in eight subsequent albums, including translating the mindblowing avant-blues assault of 1969’s Trout Mask Replica into readable music for the Magic Band from the Captain’s piano poundings under torturous conditions he likens to a cult.

Spanning nearly a thousand pages, French’s remarkable memoir starts with a vivid description of the rarely-documented early 60s Lancaster garage-rock scene which also spawned names like Ry Cooder and Beefheart’s childhood friend and later nemesis Frank Zappa, whose appearances in the book will enthrall his own legion of fans. As his spellbinding, often shocking tale unwinds, he encounters names including jazz giant Ornette Coleman, Jim Morrison and Paul McCartney, writing with dry, sometimes surreal humour and disarming honesty about his old boss and even himself, occasionally bringing in his old Magic Band comrades to jog his memory. The book is packed with new revelations, many previously-unseen photos and enough anecdotes to keep the Beefheart faithful ruminating for years, French finally crystallising and bringing to life over 40 years of legend and speculation in what has to be the ultimate book on the mercurial genius of Captain Beefheart.


:D great piece of advise..Worth following. BTW Why should you keep a saucer of water along with the guitar? I didn't get that .. :D

Danny Cohen

More and more enamored of birds and especially hummingbirds. Like smart human birds like crows and jays, but analogy is just poetics, though I listen to bird sounds and Tibetan chants. I violated these rules to play difficult chords up and down the neck while singing difficult lyrics to recall (Mark, are you a musician, if you are, you'd know how easy it is to forget lyrics on stage). These axioms apply more to solo guitar, though only winged eel was allowed to improvise (I auditioned him and he couldn't follow my chords without it written on staff, which is bullshit as I watched Magic Band rehears and there was no sheet music). He has organically geen fingernails. None of his scripted parts have any bearing on this indulgent advice!

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