Captain Beefheart guitarist Jeff Cotton talks jamming with Frank Zappa and "the eight months of emotional trauma" that went into making Trout Mask Replica

Jeff Cotton
(Image credit: Press)

The third studio offering from Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band remains one of the most lauded rock albums of all time. A 1969 double LP produced by Frank Zappa, Trout Mask Replica explored a rich melting pot of styles from blues to jazz, rock and psychedelia.

And while it’s easy to focus primarily on the stream-of-conscious lyrics and oddball song titles courtesy of the late Captain Beefheart (real name: Don Van Vliet), it is the guitar work of Bill “Zoot Horn Rollo” Harkleroad and Jeff Cotton – or as he was credited on the album, “Antennae Jimmy Semens” – that truly propels the album.

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Greg Prato

Greg is a contributing writer at Guitar World. He has written for other outlets over the years, and has been lucky to interview some of his favorite all-time guitarists and bassists: Tony Iommi, Ace Frehley, Adrian Belew, Andy Summers, East Bay Ray, Billy Corgan, Alex Lifeson, Geddy Lee, Les Claypool, and Mike Watt, among others (and even took lessons from John Petrucci back in the summer of ’91!). He is the author of such books as Grunge Is Dead: The Oral History of Seattle Rock Music, Shredders: The Oral History of Speed Guitar (And More) and Touched by Magic: The Tommy Bolin Story.