Space Blues
The musical career of Jeff Cotton

Jeff Cotton, The Exiles, The Magic Band & MU

Early Years
Between Exile & Magic
Space & Beyond




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The story of musician Jeff Cotton

There have been many fine musicians pass through the ranks of Captain Beefheart's Magic Band and they are all held in high regard for the music they helped produce. Some are more familiar than others but there is one who, to my mind, seems to be unjustifiably overlooked, yet he was involved in some of the Captain's finest moments. He can be heard on the albums Mirror Man, Strictly Personal and Trout Mask Replica. I am talking about Jeff Cotton (aka Antennae Jimmy Semens)...

Jeff in action at the Rome Pop Festival in 1968

When I came across a book called '1000 Great Guitarists' I was (pleasantly) surprised to find that Jeff was listed. But the entry was factually incorrect as well as being downright bizarre claiming that "Cotton is often painted as the ignoramus who wouldn't know a guitar from a paddle" (where the hell did this quote come from ?!!). This was no way for a musician of Jeff's abilities to be remembered so I decided to put together an article for the Beefheart fanzine about him to help redress the imbalance. That article has grown out of all recognition into these webpages (but please note that these may never be finished as I'm always tinkering with them ...)

It is Jeff's story which is the common thread of these pages but by the very nature of the subject this has also become the story of The Exiles and of MU.

As a consequence of creating Space Blues I have now set up a separate parallel site about Merrell Fankhauser - Calling From A Star. Merrell's career was closely linked with Jeff's for some years.

To find your way around these pages use the links to the main sections at the left hand side and at the bottom of the page. However, as the number of pages has grown I have added some of them as branches to the main trunk and these are links on the right of the page. To get an overview of what's here take a look at the sitemap.

Acknowledgements: I have gleaned the information for these pages from the few published articles about The Exiles and MU (see the sources page for details) but more importantly by piecing together scraps of information from several people who knew Jeff and have helped me with additional details.

So thanks to Don Aldridge, Craig Cavin, John Day, Merrell Fankhauser, John French, Bruce Gardner, Don Geisen, Bill Harkleroad, Gary Lotspeich, Gary Marker, Danny Martin and Ann Rezearch for their time, help and patience.

And thanks to Jeff for the music and for understanding that these pages have been put together with the best of motives.

Photographs: If I have infringed anyone's copyright by using any images on these pages please let me know and I will remove the item unless we can come to an amicable agreement. Thanks to Merrell Fankhauser for allowing me to use a number of photographs of The Exiles and MU.Click on frog to email me And John French for the use of the Blues In A Bottle photos.

Click on the frog to email me

Photos of Jeff from 1964 to 1974

Introduction   |  Early Years  |  Exiled  |  Between Exile & Magic  |  Magic  |   Space & Beyond  |   Discography   |  Sources  |  Sitemap

© Text copyright Steve Froy 2001-2016