The story of Captain Beyond, stoner rock pioneers
I’m your Captain: Rod Evans (centre) on stage with the Beyond
They were the pioneers of stoner rock, a supergroup who should have been super-massive. But somehow Captain Beyond managed to throw away all that promise…
Words: Ken McIntyre
Rock’n’roll has many well-kept secrets, some dirty, some amazing, many both at once. It’s one of the genre’s most enduring and endearing traits. One of its greatest hidden treasures is a scruffy neo-supergroup from the dawn of the 1970s called Captain Beyond.
Formed in the wake of Iron Butterfly’s sudden and premature demise in 1971, Captain Beyond captured perfectly the zeitgeist of the era, wrapping their Technicolor freak-flag around the Butterfly’s grungey stoner metal, layering their dense caveman-thud with far-out spurts of space-prog and throbbing tribal grooves. It was hard rock, for sure, born of thunder and sweat, but it was weird and cosmic, too. Think head shops and UFO cults and you’ve got it.
Captain Beyond were wily wizards gnawing on dinosaur bones in the waning days of the Age of Aquarius. It’s not surprising that Larry ‘Rhino’ Reinhardt is the only person that’s been part of Captain Beyond since the band formed. It was, after all, named after him.
“We were on tour in Europe with Iron Butterfly,” Reinhardt explains, sitting at home in Florida. “Butterfly and Yes were on the same bus. After a real long night with a pipe – we all partook in some attitude adjustment for the long ride – I was coming out of the bus, and Chris Squire from Yes looked at my blood-red eyes and said: ‘Goddamn, you look like Captain Beyond!’ The name stuck with me ever since.”
Reinhardt joined proto-metal warriors Iron Butterfly for their 1970 album Metamorphosis. He was also with them on a European tour to support the album.
“We were riding high, the European audiences were loving the new band. We were just tearing people’s heads off, and we were all saying: ‘We’ve really go to do another album.’ But then Doug [Ingle, Iron Butterfly’s original singer] called a meeting, and so we went down there. As I remember it, there were a couple of groupies, and he was having a cocktail, and there were crosses all over the room. He was a preacher’s son, and I think he had a revelation or something. He said: ‘Guys, I can’t go on any more. I can’t take this rock’n’roll life with all the women and the drinking.’ And I’m looking at him having a gin and tonic with two broads sitting next to him while he’s telling me this. I was in shock. I just couldn’t believe it. I was like, this band is about to make a big, new splash, and you quit? We couldn’t do Butterfly without his voice. He flushed the toilet on us.”