Art Tripp

Drummer for Frank Zappa and Captain Beefheart 
Art Tripp made his mark in the music world as the drummer and percussionist for Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention and Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band. He also recorded with Jean-Luc Ponty, Tim Buckley, and Jefferson Airplane, Mallard, and Al Stewart. With Zappa Tripp toured the U.S. and Europe and appeared on seven albums including the classics “Cruising with Ruben & the Jets” (1968), “Uncle Meat” (1969), “Burnt Weeny Sandwich” (1970), and “Weasels Ripped My Flesh” (1970). He also appeared in the Frank Zappa films “200 Motels” (1971) and “Uncle Meat” (1987). After Zappa disbanded the Mothers Art Tripp joined Captain Beefheart in 1970 to record “Unconditionally Guaranteed” (1970), “Clear Spot”(1972), “Lick My Decals Off, Baby” (1974) and Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller) (1978).  Working as a session and studio musician he recorded with Tim Buckley on "Live at the Troubadour" (1969), Jean-Luc Ponty on "King Kong" (1970), and Al Stewart on "Tim Passages" (1978).  Art left the music business in 1978 to become a chiropractor.

Learning Music in Mt. Lebanon

Arthur Dyer Tripp III was born September 10, 1944, in Athens, Ohio. He moved with his family to Mt. Lebanon Pa where he father became a Pittsburgh insurance executive. He started playing drums in fourth grade. In high school he played snare and was drum captain of the marching and concert bands. He performed in the Orange Bowl and Rose Bowl parades with the Mt. Lebanon band. Tripp also played in bands at t weddings, fraternity parties and dances. When his father offered to pay for profession lesion Tripp became a student of Stanley Leonard, a timpanist of the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Leonard taught him to play a dozens of percussion instruments, including the xylophone, tympani, and marimba. Tripp graduated from Mt. Lebanon High School in the spring of 1962.

Conservatory Studies and Symphony Performances

After auditioning for three music schools Tripp began Conservatory Studies and Symphony Performances in the fall of 1962 at the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. Trip’s percussion teacher at the conservatory was Ed Weubold, percussionist with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO). Tripp became a member of the CSO and performed in concert with Igor Stravinsky, Isaac Stern, Leonard Rose, Jose Iturbi, Loren Hollender and Arthur Fiedler. Tripp went on a 10 week world tour with the COS in 1966. Tripp also played two seasons as timpanist with the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra and performed with the Cincinnati Summer Opera and the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra. Avante-garde composer John came to the conservatory for six month stay as composer-in residence. Cage selected Art Tripp to appear with him at performances and workshops. Tripp graduated from the Cincinnati Conservatory in 1966 with a Bachelor of Music degree.

Tripp also played jazz while in Cincinnati.  In 1965 he played in Judy Garland’s band when she appeared in  Cincinnati. Art also sat and and jammed at Babe Baker’s Jazz Club 3rd set after his symphony performances.  

New York Music Studies

After performing with John Cage Tripp decided he want to play new avant-garde new music rather that the old classics of the standard symphony repertoire, Tripp accepted Art accepted a scholarship to the Manhattan School of Music in New York in 1967.,
There he took lessons at Lincoln Center from the top timpanist in the country Fred Hinger.

Meeting Frank Zappa 

In New York City Tripp's wife took a job as a state welfare case worker. There she met Patrica Kunk 
wife of Frank Zappa's recording engineer Richard Kunc.  The two couples got together for dinner and drinks.  Art talked about his experience playing with John Cage and the Cincinnati Symphony.  He told Kunc if you need someone to play percussion parts let me know I could use the work.   

Richard Kunc told Frank Zappa that he had met a percussionist with the background and experience that Zappa was looking for.  Two weeks after the Tripp's dinner with the Kuncs Art was invited to meet Frank and play for him at Apostolic Studio in New York’s Greenwich Village.  Zappa asked him to sit behind the drum kit and play.  Tripp let loose whaling on the drums for a few minutes. Zappa's mouth was wide open and he told Tripp "Man you're a monster".  Later Zappa asked "Are you doing anything this weekend.  We have a couple of gigs this weekend.  We can pay you about $500."  Tripp agreed to work with Zappa's band that weekend.  At age 23 Art Tripp became one of the members of Zappa's Mothers of Invention.   

Mothers of Invention Years

Tripp played with the Mothers of Invention for three years from 1967 to 1970.  Tripp played Zappa's difficult arrangement and also created his own improvisations.  In their live shows the Mothers of Invention never had a set list of planned songs, the entire show was a very loose 3 to 4 hour improvisation.   Zappa asked him to create his own parts during live shows telling him when I point to you play a monster drum solo.  In addition to drums Tripp also played xylophone, vibraphone, marimba tympani. wood blocks, bells, and small chimes.

While with Zappa Tripp painted his mustache green and became known as "Artie 'with the green mustache' Tripp".   

In November of 1967 Tripp made his first studio recordings with the Mothers on the album "Ruben & The Jets".   Tripp moved with the band to Hollywood in the Spring of 1968.  The band toured Europe for six weeks in 1968 and returned for another tour in 1969.

In 1969 Zappa told Frank that he want to shrink his band down from 9 members to a core of four players.  He asked Tripp to stay on as the drummer, along with the Mothers keyboard player Ian Underwood. . The new unit started rehearsals but Art lost interest as he Art didn't get along with new the bass Jeff Simons. He stopped attending rehearsals and dropped out of Zappa's new band.

Captain Beefheart's Magic Band

Wanting to continue to play avante-garde performance art rock Tripp began working with his friend and Zappa associate, Don Van Vliet, known as Captain Beefheart in 1970. He joined Beefheart's band, The Magic Band taking on the stage name Ed Marimba. At then end of 1970 Tripp moved to from Los Angeles and to Santa Cruz where Beefheart was based. Tripp recorded and performed with Beefheart over a five year period through 1975. According to the All Music Guide Beefheart's music combined free jazz, Delta blues, classical music, and rock & roll as a backdrop to his absurd lyrics to  create daring and unrivaled innovative music. As Beefheart appealed to a small audience Tripp made very little money, but was satisfied musically.


The Magic band had a falling out with Captain Beefheart in 1974 and formed the group Mallard.  Bill Harkleroad (aka Zoot Horn Rollo) and bassist Mark Boston (aka Rockette Morton) formed ther band asking John French to join them on vocals and Art Tripp on drums. After recording six demo songs John French left to rejoin the Magic Band.  Jethro Tull's aka Ian Anderson, financed the first Mallard album and they signed with Virgin Records UK. The album was recorded in the UK.  Singer Sam Galpin sang vocals and John 'Rabbit' Bundrick played keyboards.  The first album titled "Mallard" was release in Europe in 1975.  Tripp dropped out after the first album.  The band record q second album In A Different Climate with George Draggota on drums. 

Return to Pittsburgh

After the Mallard recording Tripp became dissatisfied with music business and returned to Pittsburgh to work in the insurance business with his father.  After selling insurance for three years he longed to return to the music business.

Music to Chiropractory

Tripp moved back to Los Angeles where he stayed with former Mothers band mates Ian Underwood and Ruth Underwood. He found work as a studio musician recording with Al Stewart in 1978.  But his missed live performances and lost interest in his music career.

While in Los Angeles, Tripp received treatment from chiropractior with Dr. Joel Hanson. Hason convinced Tripp that he should give up music and become a chiropractor. Tripp began chiropractic studies at Los Angeles Valley College in 1978. He completed studied in three and a quarter years and obtained his license to practice in 1983. While attending school Frank Zappa's manager called and wanting Tripp to go on tour. Tripp turned Zappa down saying he was starting a new career.

Tripp moved to Eureka, Calif to open a clinic and purchased property included 10 acres of redwoods. Disillusions with California's high taxes and regulation moved to Mississippi in 1998. Obtaining a Mississippi license in 2000 he opened a Chiropractic practice in Gulfport,Mississippi in 2000 and continues to treat patients today.

Video Frank Zappa in Paris 1968 

At Tripp -Tripped Out Music
Mothers of Invention London 1968
Captain Beefheart Paris 1973
Mother Mania