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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Magic Bathroom

This is how Merrell described Jeff's final leaving of the Magic Band in the 1996 Goldmine magazine interview:

"… one night there was a big fight at the Beefheart house and Jeff got hurt and somehow ended up in the Olive View mental hospital and after several weeks of being sedated he was released in his parents' custody and taken back to Lancaster. The guys from Beefheart would go there and try to get Jeff back but his dad would make them leave the property.

"I assured Jeff's parents that I would protect Jeff and that those Beefheart guys were a bunch of wimps and I could kick all their asses. So Jeff went back with me and we ended up getting Larry Willey and Randy Wimer together with us and we got gigs in Hollywood clubs and hotels, changing our band name almost every weekend. We had a really great sound with four part harmony. We were really tight and could do these incredible aberrant things and come right back in on time."

Beefheart found out that Cotton was gigging with Fankhauser and would send his band members to try to bring him back. One day according to Fankhauser, they came over with a friendly attitude and said, 'Ah, come over, Don wants to see you guys and have a good time and everything.'

"So we go over there and Don had this strange look in his eye," Fankhauser recalled. "We go in the house and they lock all the doors in the place. Don gets Jeff and I to go with him into this large bathroom they called the Magic Bathroom. They lock all three of us in there and Don starts to demoralize Jeff and says how he's a phenomenal guitar player but he’ll never stick with you, he'll quit on you when the chips are down and that I was stupid to keep messing around with him. Don called him a jerk-off and kept saying all this negative stuff about him.

"I felt like I was dealing for Jeff's soul, because all of a sudden Jeff turned to putty and was agreeing with Don saying, 'Yeah, maybe I should go back with Don.' This was after we developed this great sound; playing. together for six months.. It seemed like Don was trying to hypnotize us both. Jeff started right crying and fell into the bathtub and slumped into a fetal position. Then Don brings out this little cage that had all these spiders in it, including a black widow: Then he says, `What would you think if I could make one of those spiders smoke a cigarette?' He pulled his beard and said 'Wouldn't that be heavy ha ha ha.' So I kept having this weird conversation with Don and eventually he got tired, opened the bathroom door and I grabbed Jeff, put my arm around him and we walked out of the house and that was it. They never bothered us again and we went on with our new band."


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© Text copyright Steve Froy 2001-2016