you are looking for a way to kill me,
a man who has told you the truth
that I heard from God.
Abraham did not do such things.
~ John 8
From 1967 through the early '80s, Van Vliet released some of the most challenging rock albums ever, which showed off his quirky knack for free-form experimental rhythms, avant-garde melodies, and his gruff, smoky howl. He released music that would challenge fans' assumptions and expectations about rock 'n' roll. "People like music to be in tune because they've heard it in tune all the time," Van Vliet said in 1978. "I really tried to break that down."
Vliet's career peak came in 1969 when he released Trout Mask Replica, the Frank Zappa-produced, blues-based record that would go on to inspire everyone from Tom Waits and John Lennon (during his solo years) to Sonic Youth and PJ Harvey. In recent years, acts ranging from Beck and the White Stripes to the Kills and the Black Keys have recorded covers of Captain Beefheart's music.
In 1999, SPIN published an in-depth feature on the making of Vliet's iconic album. Head here to read Byron Coley's "The Strangest Album Ever Sold: the Making of Trout Mask Replica."
"I don't see how you can listen to it and not come away with some sense of being changed, if you allow it in," Waits told SPIN about Trout Mask in '99. "You can't really get it yourself — figuring out Don's music is like trying to figure out the choreography of a bee. But it's there to behold and to wonder about, and to hopefully take some sort of the light of it away wth you. He's a mighty kind." Iconic British DJ John Peel was more effusive about Vliet's impact on rock 'n' roll: "If there has ever been such a thing as a genius in the history of popular music, it's Beefheart," he said in 1997.
In a 2009 interview, PJ Harvey, who lyrically referenced Beefheart's music on songs like "Rid of Me" and "Meet Ze Monsta," recalled being initially turned off by his sound, only to later come to understand its power. "I'd heard Beefheart when I was really young through my mother and father who had a fantastic vinyl collection," she said. "When I was a child, it used to make me feel ill, but once I met John [Parrish, Harvey's musical collaborator], he introduced me to many things and re-introduced me to [Beefheart's] Many Shiny Things."
Despite his far-reaching appeal among musicians, Van Valiet became something of a recluse, especially with the release of 1982's Ice Cream for Crow and MTV's refusal to promote Beefheart's out-there music. Instead, Vliet focused on his work as a visual artist and even had his work shown recently at galleries in New York. Vliet did make a rare appearance, however, in the 1993 documentary by photographer Anton Corbijn titled Some Yo Yo Stuff.
The Legendary Country Western tailor to the stars — Nudie Cohn.
Circa 1970′s, Los Angeles, CA– Hands of Nudie Cohn the Rodeo Tailor
Image by © Jeff AlbertsonNudie suits have been worn by just about everyone who is anyone in the world of Country/Rock music. Simply put, he made Country cool with his one-off original creations that bedazzled a long list of diverse celebs– John Wayne, Gene Autry, George Jones, Elvis, Cher, John Lennon, Ronald Reagan, Elton John, Robert Mitchum, Pat Buttram, Tony Curtis, Michael Landon, Glenn Campbell, Hank Snow, Porter Wagoner, Hank Williams Sr., and groups such as, America, Chicago, ZZ top, and the Flying Burrito Bros (Gram Parsons’ “Gilded Palace of Sin” suit is considered the Sistine Chapel of Nudies). To own a Nudie is to own something special; collected by fashion and music hounds alike– Dwight Yoakam, Ben Harper, Lenny Kravitz, Perry Farrell, Jeff Tweedy, and other A-list Rockers of today keep the Nudie flame burning, and even inspired a few of them to create their own line of signature clothing.
The man behind the amazing rhinestone-studded, hand-embroidered suits was none other than Mr. Nudie Cohn– arguably, the larger-than-life 5-foot-7 Russian Rhinestone Cowboy is the most influential and innovative fashion designer and tailor to ever bless the world of Country music. And he couldn’t stop at clothing– he put his Midas Touch on everything around him– especially his customized fleet of Nudie-fied GM cruisers that he used to promote his LA based Nudies Rodeo Tailors shop on Lankershim Blvd. Of the original 18 cars, the whereabouts of only 9 are known today.
Circa 1970′s, Los Angeles, CA– Nudie costomized each of his many cadillacs, protecting his work with plastic. This one is decorated with silver dollar coins and 14 various guns. –Image by © Jeff Albertson
*Pontiac Bonnevilles were the car of choice, Mr. Cuevas said, partly because they were among the longest cars on the road. “We took the seats out and did the upholstery in hand tooled leather,” he said. “We put guns and bullets and silver dollars all over it.”
Mr. Cuevas recalled that guns were cheap and easy to buy in Los Angeles. The Winchesters, Colts and derringers were sent to be plugged and silver-plated. When returned, the guns were holstered or became gearshifts and door handles. Silver dollars were strategically added.
“I thought it was fantastic,” Mr. Cuevas said. “The more things we had to hang on the car, the better.”
Circa 1970s, Los Angeles, California– Nudie costomized each of his many Cadillacs, protecting his work with plastic. This one is decorated with guns & silver dollar coins. –Image by © Jeff Albertson
*In the early 1960s, for promotional purposes, Cohn began receiving a free Pontiac every year. Typically, he’d drive the cars for a while and then sell them or give them away. While Mr. Cuevas said he recalled a few going out the door at prices up to $35,000, Nudie gave his ’63 Bonneville (adorned with more than 100 valuable coins, including Morgan silver dollars) to his friend Roy Rogers.
Today, that car is hooked to a Nudie-customized covered-wagon trailer in the Roy Rogers museum in Branson, Mo., not far from Trigger, the world’s most famous stuffed horse. Dave Koch, a museum spokesman, said Rogers drove the car regularly near his Apple Valley, Calif., home, until souvenir hunters began prying off coins.
“It was such a long vehicle with that extended rear bumper, that it was very difficult to drive on hills,” Mr. Koch said. “You had to enter driveways at a major angle.”
–Via The New York Times, read more here
Circa 1970s, Los Angeles, California– Nudie the Rodeo Tailor with photographs of the many stars and their suits he’s made over the years –Image by © Jeff Albertson
May 26th, 1973, Los Angeles, California– Nudie Cohn, George Jones and Tammy Wynette. Nudie Cohn outfitted many Country & Western stars in custom suits & shirts. — Image by © Michael Ochs Archives
Circa 1970s, Los Angeles, CA– Merle Haggard choosing fabric for a new Nudie suit. –Image by © Jeff Albertson
Circa 1970s, Los Angeles, California– Nudie the Rodeo Tailor in his Shop
Image by © Jeff Albertson
Alright, I get it. How can you NOT have color pics of something as beautiful and COLORFUL as a Nudie suit–
(Right) Nudie Cohn– The Man, The Suit, The Legend. (Left) Gram Parsons and Nudie Cohn.
Nudie Cohn, in a glorious Nudie suit, atop a Nudie customized cruiser = Nudie Heaven.
Gram Parsons in the infamous “Gilded Palace of Sin” Nudie Suit.
Nudie Cohn and Gram Parsons. Gram was visiting Nudie’s Rodeo Tailors workshop.