Art Tripp

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Art Tripp
Art Tripp Arkansas in 2006.jpg
Tripp in 2006
Background information
Birth name Arthur Dyer Tripp III
Born (1944-09-10) September 10, 1944 (age 71)
Instruments Percussion
Associated acts The Mothers of Invention, The Magic Band

Arthur Dyer Tripp III (born September 10, 1944) aka Ed Marimba, Ted Cactus, Artie "With the Green Mustache" Tripp, is a former musician best known for his work as a percussionist with Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention and Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band. He is currently a chiropractor in Mississippi.

Early career[edit]

Arthur Dyer Tripp III was born September 10, 1944, in Athens, Ohio.[citation needed] He grew up in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He started playing drums in fourth grade with school bands, then later while at high school at weddings, fraternity parties and dances. Tripp became a student of Stanley Leonard, a timpanist with the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra, with whom he learned to play other percussion instruments, including the xylophone, tympani, marimba, and dozens of others.[citation needed]

In 1962, Tripp enrolled at the Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music to study percussion. His private teacher at the conservatory, Ed Weubold, was a percussionist with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra (CSO). Tripp became a regular member of the CSO, performing with artists such as Igor Stravinsky, Isaac Stern, Leonard Rose, Jose Iturbi, Loren Hollender and Arthur Fiedler. In 1966, the US State Department sent the orchestra on a 10-week world tour, which provided additional experience for the young musician. During this time, Tripp also played two seasons as timpanist with the Dayton Philharmonic Orchestra, as well as a season with both the Cincinnati Summer Opera and the Cincinnati Pops Orchestra. He was selected by avant garde composer John Cage to work with him in performances and workshops when Cage became composer-in-residence at the Conservatory of Music.

Tripp graduated in 1966 with a Bachelor of Music degree and in 1967, accepted a scholarship to the Manhattan School of Music in New York, primarily in order to finish a Master of Music degree, but also to expose himself further to contemporary music. His teacher was a former timpanist with the Philadelphia Orchestra, Fred Hinger. Hinger was at that time performing with the Metropolitan Opera Orchestra as well as teaching there.

Later career[edit]

 Art Tripp in Chicago in 1968
Art Tripp in Chicago in 1968

It was in New York that Tripp was introduced to Frank Zappa’s recording engineer, Richard Kunc. Kunc told Zappa about Tripp, who, he said, had the type of background and experience he thought Zappa was looking for. Tripp met Zappa and played for him at Apostolic Studio in New York’s Greenwich Village. Tripp was soon hired to play with The Mothers of Invention and went on to record seven albums and perform numerous tours throughout the US and Europe. In early 1968, the band left New York after an 18-month stay and relocated to Hollywood. A year later, Zappa disbanded the Mothers to pursue a solo career. Tripp appears on two albums compiled from recordings made before the dissolution of the Mothers of Invention: Burnt Weeny Sandwich and Weasels Ripped My Flesh, both released in 1970.

Meanwhile, Tripp had been discussing projects with occasional Zappa collaborator and long-time friend Don Van Vliet (aka Captain Beefheart). He would later join Beefheart's group the Magic Band. At that time, he also recorded with Chad Stewart and the Brotherhood of Man, played percussion on the Smothers Brothers Summer Special, and was offered a position in the pit orchestra for the stage show Oh! Calcutta!.

Tripp decided to move to northern California with the Magic Band. The move heralded a five-year period of recording and touring again throughout the US and Europe. During the same period he was asked, but declined due to his commitment with Beefheart, to do session work with former Magic Band member Ry Cooder and saxophonist Ornette Coleman. Eventually, conflicts with Beefheart meant the rest of The Magic Band split off to compose and rehearse new music that was recorded on an album sponsored by the Jethro Tull organization, along with its drummer Barriemore Barlow and guitarist Martin Barre, called Mallard.[1] However, by then Tripp had become dissatisfied with music so he returned to Pittsburgh to work in the insurance business with his father.

After three years, realizing that selling insurance was not something he wanted to do either, Tripp decided to return to music. He went back to Los Angeles where he stayed with former Mothers band mate Ian Underwood and Ruth Underwood, who also played extensively with Zappa, while he worked as a studio musician recording with artists such as Al Stewart and various commercial producers. However, studio work proved to lack the allure of live performance and he once again lost interest in pursuing his career in music.

After leaving music, Tripp became a chiropractor, and currently practices in Mississippi.[2]




Inline citations[edit]


  • Frank Zappa, Captain Beefheart and the Secret History of Maximalism, Michel Delville & Andrew Norris, Salt Publishing, 2005
  • Freak Out! My Life With Frank Zappa, Pauline Butcher, Plexus Publishing Ltd., 2011
  • For Mother’s Sake, Jimmy Carl Black, Inkanish Publications, 2013
  • The Frank Zappa Book, Frank Zappa with Peter Occhiogrosso, Poseidon Press, 1989
  • Captain Beefheart, Mike Barnes, Cooper Square Press, 2000 & 2002
  • Lunar Notes, Bill Harkleroad with Billy James, SAF Publishing Ltd., 1998
  • Beefheart: Through the Eyes of Magic, John “Drumbo” French, Proper Music Publishing Ltd., 2010
  • Dropouts Boogie, John Robinson, Uncut Magazine, IPC Media, September, 2012


External links[edit]