1. NAME: Robert R. Mehling
2. DATE OF BIRTH: October 10th, 1954
3. OCCUPATION: Artist, Fine Art, Painting Instructor
4. PLACE OF RESIDENCE: Riverhead, Long Island, New York, USA
5. WHAT YEAR DID YOU BECOME A FAN?: Spring, 1970
SAFE AS MILK : ____________________3
MIRROR MAN : __________________ 9
STRICTLY PERSONAL : __________ 6
TROUT MASK REPLICA : _________ 1
LICK MY DECALS OFF BABY : _____ 2
SPOTLIGHT KID : ________________ 5
CLEAR SPOT : _________________ 4
UNCONDITIONALLY GUARANTEED : _11
BLUEJEANS & MOONBEAMS : ___ 12
SHINY BEAST : _________________ 7
DOC AT THE RADAR STATION : ___ 8
ICE CREAM FOR CROW :__________ 10
8. NUMBER OF ALBUMS OWNED:
Currently 113 on iTunes and on my iPod (dumped my CDs after going computerized)
about 200+ old vinyl 33RPM albums, 100+ 45RPM, and 100+ 78RPM singles.Mainly rock, jazz, swing, blues and doo-wop.
9. HOW DID YOU FIRST DISCOVER CAPTAIN BEEFHEART & THE MAGIC BAND,
AND WAS THERE A PARTICULAR SONG THAT MADE YOU SEE THE LIGHT?:
At the beginning of the year 1970 I owned Frank Zappa's "Hot Rats" which included the track "Willie the Pimp," sung by Captain Beefheart.
Intrigued, early that year picked up "Trout Mask Replica." I was just a kid in high school (Northport, about 25 miles west of here) when it
happened. It was not one song, but the entire 2-record album that literally blew my mind. There is nothing I can compare that initial
awakening to. Other than a few more highly structured offerings in polyrhythmic and poly-melodic experimentation from Frank Zappa, there
were no precedents. I listened to it over and over. As soon as I could scarf up some money, I bought the four other albums then available:
Strictly Personal, Safe as Milk, Mirror Man, and the A&M Bootleg containing Diddy-Wah-Diddy and Moonchild. These allowed me to trace
Beefheart's evolution from blues/rock into outer space. I bought Lick My Decals the second it was released. I was in heaven. Beefheart was
my new god. I dressed like him and his band, painted canvases in art class like him, wrote songs and had my rock band play those songs like
him, wrote poetry like him, and made love to my girlfriend in the woods like him. The high points of my high school years were seeing
him when he toured New York. A year later, I was a little disappointed in Spotlight Kid, but got over it. Clear Spot was okay- Sun Zoom Spark
was fine. Unconditionally Guaranteed hit me like a ton of bricks, it was like the world ended; it defined "sell-out" to me. I then stopped
listening to Beefheart for many years.
10. NUMBER OF BEEFHEART GIGS SEEN, AND WHICH YEARS:
Three or four, 1970, '71, 72 and 1975 at My Father;'s Place in Roslyn,I think. It's been so long ago that I forgot the other locations. If I
call my old friends, they may remember.
11. ART SHOWS VISITED:
None. I am not much impressed by Don's painting these days because I prefer traditional to modernist technique. I am a painter too. Years
ago I painted and made drawings like Don's, but by 1973 I had already dropped the Beefheart influence and started moving toward more
illustration-based realism. I received academic training from 1999 to 2003 and learned the techniques of the old masters. Today I consider
my own art and all the art of us current "Classical Realists" as superior to Don's old-school Franz Kline style abstract expressionism.
Don's music is it for me, not his painting. Sorry folks.
12. ANY CONTACT WITH DON?:
I met him once backstage, after a show in New York in 1971 and gave him some of my drawings. He liked one a lot. A girl named Joan was
with me. It was a magical experience.
I saw him another time under less favorable circumstances. I saw him play at a show on Long Island, with my brother and friends. I drove us
to the location myself in my crappy old 1970 Ford panel station wagon. After the concert my brother and the other guys stayed on to see the
Captain backstage, which I think they did. I however was pissed at my brother for some reason and went back to the car to wait for them. I
had the misfortune to park my car under a bridge where birds were roosting and the hood and top of that big old yellow car was just
covered in bird shit. Don came out before my party came back and opened up the hatchback of his car. He was about ten feet away and
took a look at me through all that shit. I was going to come out and say hello but stayed in the car, embarrassed by all that encrusted
guano. He packed up and left. I think someone else was driving him.
13. MUSICAL ABILITY / TRAINING:
Studied music in school years ago. Played clarinet, saxophone, sung lead vocals in rock/blues bands from 1970 to 1976. Composed avant
guard semi classical compositions. All in the past. Switched to visual arts mid seventies.
14. ANY OTHER INFO YOU WISH TO ADD?
Very happy to see interest in Beefheart 40 years later. Especially on the Internet. From Wikipedia to your Radar Station- keep up the good
work. Don van Vliet belongs in history. Future historians of art and music will study him.
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