Zappa Downs Beefheart

By Jim Smith

Crawdaddy, July 1975

Captain Beefheart, fresh from his failed attempt at respectability has joined Frank Zappa’s regular touring band. “He called me up last year and apologized.” Zappa explained before a recent performance. “then asked me for a job. I auditioned him once and he flunked. He couldn’t keep his rhythm together. I tried him out again and he squeaked past. He’s currently in the process of squeaking past. I have to tell him exactly what to do. He doesn’t have any trouble understanding what the concept is, it’s just getting his body to do it. He’s got a coordination problem.”

For the most part. Beefheart just sits in the background during the show. He gets to sing on two or three songs and throw in harmonica and soprano saxophone fills. He comes to the forefront in each show’s encore, though, to sing the classic “Willy the Pimp.” “That’s pretty much required listening.” Zappa admits. “I think the first thing that comes to mind when people see Beefheart on stage with me is that we should play ‘Wiily the Pimp.’ In spite of what people might have thought about Aposfrophe, our largest selling album to date has been Hot Rats.”