Sharing the vision of celebrating the music of the late Don Van Vliet aka Captain Beefheart, original members John "Drumbo" French and Mark "Rockette Morton" Boston 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.
Don Van Vliet aka Captain Beefheart was a visionary in the field of music. His group, "Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band" started as a blues group. Later, Drummer John French joined and they recorded an album for Buddah Records entitled Safe as Milk - referring to the strontium-90 content found in lactating mother's milk.
Guitarist Jeff Cotton joined and a second album, Strictly Personal was recorded shortly before a tour of the United Kingdom - where famed DJ John Peel had been playing Safe as Milk to a very-interested audience. Van Vliet hated Strictly Personal's production, rapt with phase-shifting, calling it "Psychelelic Bromo Seltzer".
Though for the most part commercially unsuccessful, the groundbreaking album, Trout Mask Replica was hailed by critics who recognised Van Vliet's unique and totally original approach to music composition and lyric creation. Produced by Frank Zappa, who gave the musicians six hours to record the bulk of a double album in a single evening, was amazed when The Magic Band recorded it in four-and-a-half.
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.
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French's book, Beefheart: Through the Eyes of Magic, in 2013, sold out of the original printing. It is now being re-printed in paperback in both paperback and digital media.
A new album, simply entitled The Magic Band plays the Music of Captain Beefheart live in London 2013 was released in the Autumn/Fall of 2013. These are live digital recordings of The Magic Band at Chelsea's Under the Bridge venue, recorded in March 2013.
In 2013, the lineup of The Magic Band changed with the inclusion of Andrew Niven on drums, Craig Bunch having decided to pursue other interests. In 2015, Denny Walley left the band, to be replaced by Grandmothers of Invention guitar hero, Max Kutner.
The Magic Band in 2015 is
John "Drumbo" French - Vocals, Harmonica, Saxophone, Drums.
Mark "Rockette Morton" Boston - Bass Guitar
Eric Klerks - Guitar
Max Kutner - Guitar
Andrew Niven - Drums