DON'T ARGUE WITH THE CAPTAIN
history - story
|WE MEAN BUSINESS!
when captain beefheart's debut single 'diddy wah diddy / who do you think you're fooling' was ready for release, the record company thought it was time to tell the world outside of lancaster about it. so they placed an advertisement in some famous music business magazines:
and indeed, it drew the attention of several radio stations in california. but there just was a small problem: at that moment it wasn't the only release with that title....
TOO MANY 'DIDDY WAHS'
usa 4 june 1966 the BEAT vol.2 #13
teejopedia blah blah:
one group is from boston and claims to be protesting the british influence on american music. the other group is from california and proudly declares that they are often mistaken for an english rhythm and blues group.
they both have recorded the same song, 'diddy wah diddy', and neither group seems to be pulling very far ahead of the other. a decision is going to have to be made and only you can make it. so, the beat has decided to devote equal space to 'the remains' and 'captain beefheart and his magic band', introducing both groups to you and letting you decide which group will score a hit and which group will have to give it one more try.
captain beefheart and his magic band merged less than a year ago in the small desert town of lancaster, california. their first big break occurred when they played the teenage fair at the hollywood palladium (on 10 april 1965 - t.t.). they were on stage only twice (also for the finals a week later) but they made such an impact on the audience that numerous fan clubs sprouted up before they even had a recording contract!
the remains decided to form their group in the fall of '64 while all four boys were still attending boston university. their first date was at the ratskeller club in boston where they appeared on monday nights. they, too, had a phenomenal impact on their audiences and before long the ratskeller became the place to go in boston.
the local action generated by both groups drew the attention of record companies, who are continually on the look-out for new talent. so, when word of the remains spread as far as new york a representative from epic records flew up to listen to the group and became so excited over what he heard that he immediately herded them to new york for an audition. passing the audition with room to spare, the remains were signed to a contract and, thus, one 'diddy wah diddy' was born.
meanwhile, captain beefheart and his group were playing gigs all over the state. the result was more fan clubs but still no recording contract. it was certainly not in vain, however, because with each public appearance the group's stage technique improved until they reached the point where they could work their audience into a state of frenzy and then easily switch to a slow blues number and lure the crowd into quietly listening and watching.
and, as happened with the remains, wind of what captain beefheart was accomplishing spread down to the los angeles based record companies. when all offers were weighed it was the herb alpert / jerry moss label, a&m records, which finally signed the group to a contract. and 'diddy wah diddy' number two was released.
in terms of exposure one would have to give the edge to the remains. they've already appeared on the 'ed sullivan show' and the now-dumped 'hullabaloo' (nation wide tv programs with pop music - t.t.). as well as being chosen the group to open one of new york's newest discotheques, the ondine.
taken individually, the members of captain beefheart et al. seem to share some of the same likes as the remains, but as groups one gets the distinct impression that they're miles apart.
captain beefheart's magic band possesses five members - all of whom dig the real down-home blues. musically their tastes run to such r&b giants as howlin' wolf, sonny boy williamson, lightning hopkins. jimmy reed, james brown and johnny 'guitar' watson.
captain beefheart is really alex st. clair (real name: alex snouffer - t.t.) and happens to like, among other things, donna loren, dogs, guns, hunting, fishing and hemingway. the magic band line up as don van vliet, doug moon, jerry handley and paul blakely. don's tastes run the gamut from good brandy to falconry with sparrows, from fine cuisine to national geographic (scientific periodical - t.t.).
doug has decided that
he is definitely in favor of sweet potatoes, egg nog, slim slacks, baggy
sweaters, pretty girls with long hair, sports cars, pop art and poetry.
jerry has given the whole subject plenty of thought and has finally emerged
with the notion that he digs pork chops and intelligent girls. oh, and
i almost forgot - he considers smokey the bear totally out of sight!
the remaining (sorry 'bout that) magic band member is paul, referred to by his friends as p.g.. paul is the only member of the group to actually hail from lancaster and we must admit that his list of likes impress us most as he declares that he officially digs gene krupa, bill cosby, don adams and 'the beat'!
picture by robert young
the four remains are barry tashian, chip damiani, william briggs and vern miller. barry is the lead guitarist and vocalist for the group. his musical tastes rather agree with his rivals as he prefers muddy waters and otis redding and is frequently called 'the white james brown'. chip met the rest of the remains when he enrolled at boston university. he is the only group member who was not an experienced musician prior to joining the remains.
william, or briggs as he is usually called, is the perfectionist in the group. because of his wide knowledge of electronics, he is only satisfied when the equipment and stage set-up are perfect. briggs spends his spare time writing songs and declares: 'i write in a creatively simple vein because i want the kids to understand it. they lose interest if it's too complex and then the communication is lost too.'
vein is the remains' most serious student of music, perhaps because his father is a music teacher and composer. vein is the group's second composer but in the future wants to go into writing music for movies and television.
so, there you have them - the remains and captain beefheart and his magic band. now that you've been formally introduced, which group will you buy and which one will you ignore? or will you decide to like them both?