captain beefheart electricity


history - interviewflits


from usa 20 november 1972 warner/reprise CIRCULAR vol. 4 #46
by unknown writer
is early november 1972 interview / feature

the 'interview' are pieces from a twenty-eight minutes reel, made as a promotional special.
of course, the original 'instant radio show' contains some of the songs, too.

everybody gets an oil well in los angeles, whether they want one or not.

apropos of nothing, these words were among the very first uttered by captain beefheart as he traded quips with 'wolfman jack' [artist name of robert weston smith - t.t.], gravel-voiced disc jockey for radio station krla in pasadena. the interview was arranged with an eye towards promoting the captain's new album 'clear spot'. wolfman understandably led off with a question about the record, asking beefheart when he wrote it.

going from harvard to yale [university] (not quite correct, but he always liked puns - t.t.), was the inscrutable reply.

you're teasing me, wolfman observed.

i wrote it on the move, beefheart continued, i wrote it in about an hour.

the interview then left the subject of the album; wolfman had other things on his mind: where do you get your craziness?

i lived in the high desert for many years. and i think that some of the atomic power out there seeped through or something.

is that true?

it's quite possible. don't know. it might have happened, was the captain's cautious answer.

beefheart expounded about his origin: i came from the los angeles brea tar pits originally.

really?, exclaimed an incredulous wolfman, did they dig you out or did you come out by yourself?

they couldn't dig it. that's why it took me so long to come out like i am on this record.

after playing a cut from the record for illustration and commenting effusively about its merits, wolfman asked the captain about his favorite horror movies, a sort of hobby of wolfman's. he seemed pleased when beefheart replied that 'brainiac' and 'devil bat's daughter' were his faves.

when you get up in the morning, wolfman waxed philosophically, do you like it to be a pretty purple color..., or do you like the orange colors better in the sky?

i like to get a big hypodermic needle and take out some of the color, was beefheart's monochromatic wish.

how do you do that?, wolfman asked from the limits of his imagination. do you have a needle you can do that with?

huge..., beefheart assented, i just take out whatever area i don't want.

you just zap it out just like that?


this line of questioning stalled, wolfman tried to steer the conversation to things literary, only to discover that the captain didn't read.

i haven't read a book in my life.

you just don't like to read?

i really don't. once in a while i ride by a billboard and i read it, but i can't help it.

captain beefheart - billboard to promote 'clear spot' album - before the unveiling 5 november 1972
grand unveiling, 2:00 pm, sun nov. 5...

captain beefheart is not content with just reading billboards. a few days after the interview it was to be his honor to unveil a billboard of his artwork, right across from the tar pits he loves.

the record biz cat pack was on hand at an al fresco bash honoring the great man of arts' 'clear spot' release. tall fences around the pits foiled practical jokers and a pleasant time was had by all. unfortunately, beefheart arrived too late for the unveiling and the party, but he pronounced the twilight display - across the street from the los angeles county museum of art - quite acceptable.

to the billboard unveiling. photo one is the billboard still enshrouded, with the phrase 'grand unveiling, 2:00 pm, sunday nov. 5' stenciled on the canvas tarp. the second photo shows the unveiled billboard.

captain beefheart billboard to promote 'clear spot' album - after the unveiling - 5 november 1972
an audio exhibit...

the caption to the two photos goes:
pictured here is the captain beefheart billboard, whose unveiling the good captain alas missed.
for those of you reading 'circular' in black and white: the drawing of the tiger is mostly green.
pinch hitting as master of ceremonies for the missing artist was famed circular columnist dr. demento, who whipped the ruly crowd into a state approaching anticipation as the shroud dropped from the commercial canvas.



as we all happen to read the pictures in black and white, we are so happy warner bros put a coloured print of the most stunning part of the billboard - the drawing - inside the box of the 1999 captain beefheart retrospective 'the dust blows forward'!

captain beefheart / don van vliet - drawing 'tiger' - billboard to promote 'clear spot' album - detail
'the drawing of the tiger is mostly green'...?

this issue of the warner / reprise record company's weekly magazine for music business insiders also contained an interview done during the recording sessions for the album: the tenderized beefheart of 'clear spot'

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