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In early 1974, after the recording of the uncharacteristically mainstream Unconditionally Guaranteed album, the tensions between Captain Beefheart and bandmembers Bill Harkleroad (Zoot Horn Rollo), Mark Boston (Rockette Morton) and Art Tripp III (Ed Marimba) had finally reached a breaking point, and the three members left Beefheart's Magic Band. Together, they formed Mallard, with Sam Galpin as vocalist and Rabbit Bundrick on keyboards, releasing their eponymous debut album in 1975, with logistical support from Ian Anderson (of Jethro Tull fame), who financed the recording using his mobile recording unit on his English estate. The debut included a version of the Captain Beefheart instrumental "Peon", as Harkleroad felt the group could improve on the original. Anderson's involvement with Mallard including recording with the group, but Harkleroad later destroyed these recordings. John French (Drumbo) was originally involved with the band, and co-wrote some songs.
In 1976 they released their second and last album, In a Different Climate, and performed some concerts in the United Kingdom. George Dragotta now had been recruited as their drummer, and after Beefheart fired John Thomas, he, too, joined on keyboards. Thomas was briefly involved in the Magic Band, and in the early 1970s had been in a band called Rattlesnakes and Eggs with John French.
Despite the principal members' years together and unique musical abilities, as well as support from the British musical press, Mallard never achieved commercial success.
- Prato, Greg. "Biography: Mallard". Allmusic. Retrieved 27 May 2010.
- Harkleroad, Bill (2013). Lunar Notes - Zoot Horn Rollo's Captain Beefheart Experienc. Gonzo Multimedia. ISBN 1908728345.
- "27-Oct-2013 Billy James interview on Outsight Radio Hours". Archive.org. Retrieved 17 November 2013.