The Hugh Beaumont Experience
NO EXPERIENCE NECESSARY
No other punk band from Fort Worth, Texas is more infamous than the Hugh Beaumont Experience. Actually, there aren’t too many other punk bands from Fort Worth anyway, but that’s beside the point. Hugh Beaumont’s infamy lies mostly in realm of punk rock record collectors seeking their extremely rare first release, the Cone Johnson EP.
My fascination with HBE gained momentum when I wound up sitting next to Laynette Stiles in algebra class at Paschal High School in Fort Worth. Algebra class was run by a barely-competent woman named Ms. Pryor (pronounced “Pry-ruh”) with breasts so gigantic that she could leave her textbook sitting on them while she wrote on the overhead project… alas, I digress. Laynette’s brother, Brad, used to sing for the Hugh Beaumont Experience. After seeing I was interested in the band, she promised to give me her copy of the Cone Johnson EP. After a few weeks of waiting, she discovered her copy had fallen victim to a spring cleaning a couple years before. Oh, the humanity…
The first Hugh Beaumont member I actually met was Tommie, the original guitarist, who was substitute teaching at my high school the next year. He didn’t have a copy of the record for me either. The combination of the band being from Fort Worth and the idea of them being a “pre-Butthole Surfers” outfit (I was a big fan in high school) would push me even harder to locate a copy of their record. When I eventually got my hands on a copy, it inspired me to start my own reissue label, Existential Vacuum. A compilation EP of my favorite Hugh Beaumont Experience material was my first release. Admittedly, this release was, for all intents and purposes, a bootleg not authorized by the band until a couple years later. Retroactive legitimization… why not? Anyway, my interest in the band only continued to snowball. A couple years after my first release, I began work on an entire Hugh Beaumont LP comprised of live material and an unreleased “live in the studio” session.
I discovered — through friends in common — that Brad, Hugh Beaumont’s founder and provocateur magnifique, had an unreleased Hugh Beaumont studio session recorded by, strangely enough, Bob Mould of Husker Du fame. I eventually convinced Brad that the world needed to hear it (even though I hadn’t actually heard the tape yet). These recordings involved the later band line-up with that included future Butthole Surfers drummer, Jeff “King” Coffey. King was completely uninterested in seeing the session released and told Brad to do what he wanted. After tracking down the obsolete equipment needed to transfer the tapes, the LP was on its way. These Bob Mould sessions were rowdy and virtually improvisational… this session became the B-side of the LP. The other side was culled from live recordings that the Hugh Beaumont Experience had released on homemade cassettes entitled Virgin Killers. These live recordings are great and include good bating of the obviously longhair audiences of Fort Worth and Arlington, Texas. A couple of tracks were somehow deleted from the final cut… and that was only the beginning of the nightmare.
I asked a friend to do the graphics for the LP jacket… it turned out to be the worst looking cover I’ve ever released. Computer graphics at their dogshittiest. The two hundred color vinyl copies were pressed off-center. I was starting to think there was a curse on this record. Just about this time, I found out that Brad had died (under circumstances which remain sketchy). I only knew Brad through the music he had recorded over the years and can’t say I was very close to him, but his death dampened any remaining enthusiasm for the release. The curse of the Hugh Beaumont Experience LP would eventually evolve into a nightmare as Jeff “King” Coffey, Brad’s former bandmate and good friend, turned against me and the whole project, demanding that all master recordings be returned along with royalties paid in full. Brad and I just had verbal agreements which proved to be quite a boon for King. I would do what King said or face a lawsuit. The hard feelings that resulted from the LP’s release would be vented in various forums over the next few years and not be resolved until five years later when I received a much-appreciated apology from Jeff.
THE HUGH BEAUMONT EXPERIENCE
OK, so now you know how I fit into the picture, and you’re eyelids are feeling mighty heavy. Despite knowing more than most mortals about the Hugh Beaumont Experience, there are still many details that will remain forever unknown. For one thing, the roster of members for the band’s many incarnations is enough to fill a bingo hall. I’ll just give you the nutshell (er, terribly incomplete) rendition of the band’s founding and recording of the EP.
The band started at Country Day High School in Fort Worth in 1980. Country Day is one of two pricey “elite” private schools in Fort Worth. Street punks the Hugh Beaumont Experience were not. The original name proposed, “The Offenders”, was wisely rejected by the original bassist, Clay. After a brainstorm session on the school’s second story balcony, Tommie (the original guitarist) suggested “Hugh Beaumont Experience”, and the name stuck.
The Hugh Beaumont Experience first began practicing during lunch break at different members’ houses. Their first gig was on a school trip to Artfest in Kansas. Country Day School sponsored a trip there for the music, drama, and choir departments which meant that all Hugh Beaumont members would be there with instruments in hand. The audience threw food.
A few months later, the band recorded the Cone Johnson EP. The record was paid for by a woman named Beth who was looking to release a record by some “new local talent”. A suggestion by a local DJ by the name of George Gimarc led her to the Hugh Beaumont Experience. She would eventually release the 7in. EP on her own label, Cygnus Records. All band members were 15 – 17 years old at the time of the recording. These recordings, though among the earliest of HBE’s recordings, wound up being the most polished as Cygnus was fishing for a little more commercial success than the band ever realized. Beth’s lame-brain marketing ploys and catch phrases like the “brave new wave” probably didn’t help. Even after I eventually got in contact with Beth, the relationship between her and the band has never been clarified. All we know is there was a big falling out, and the resulting hard feelings seem to be the root of the Cone Johnson EP’s rarity.
What followed the record’s release was many band member changes (in fact, the original bassist left before the record was even released) and many more recordings. With each line-up change, the band seemed to get faster and less polished, reversing the usual progression of a band’s sound, but then again Brad didn’t seem to do anything like what was expected. Brad would eventually be the only original Hugh Beaumont Experience member left in the line-up.
Cone Johnson EP (Cygnus ’81). Songs are “Zyklon B”, “Where’d Ya Go, Sid?”, “Money Means So Much To Me”, and “Charity”. A few copies of the record were issued with typewritten promo stickers on the labels, though there are only two known promo copies with the astericked sleeve variation pictured in the International Discography of the New Wave (volume II). A scan is provided at the top of this page.
Virgin Killers cassette. Photocopied cover and insert with handwritten cassette labels by the band. Extremely rare.
“Let’s Go Join The Army” and “Money Means So Much To Me” on Live At The Hot Klub LP (VVV ’83)
“Moo” on Cottage Cheese From The Lips of Death LP (Ward 9 ’83). There are two pressings of this record with the artwork centered on the first pressing LP jacket and off-center on the second press. Cottage Cheese was reissued on CD in 2001.
“Fred” and “Purple Things” on Steel Rok Presents cassette-only release (’83)
s/t EP (EV 01)
“Zyklon B” + “Money Means So Much To Me” from the Cone Johnson EP + “Let’s Go Join The Army” from Live At The Hot Klub + “Moo” from Cottage Cheese From The Lips of Death. 500 pressed on various colored vinyl.
Virgin Killers LP (EV 06)
Previously unreleased studio side and tracks from the cassette of the same name). 1000 pressed with 200 on red vinyl with off-center A-sides)
“Money Means So Much To Me” + “666” + “Don’t Apologize, Just Leave”
George Gimarc managed to excavate a cassette containing the earliest Hugh Beaumont Experience recordings (in fact, still calling themselves the Offenders). These living room recordings are incredibly primitive with distorto guitar, a snare drum, and no bass. A year or so later, “Money” was reworked and included on the Cone Johnson EP).
“Alchemy” + “Sunshine of Your Love”
Jeff Coffey recently filled me in on these details…
“Hugh Beaumont Experience did two more songs at the B.O.S.S. – “Alchemy” and “Sunshine of Your Love”. The first song I liked to think was sort of PiL or Killing Joke-ish, but in reality the drumbeat was directly lifted from Frida’s (one of the singers from Abba) minor hit of the time “I Know There’s Something Going On”. “Sunshine” was a faithful cover of the Cream song, which I guess was an attempt to show off our love of acid and piss off punks.
The master tape has been lost. Last I heard my friend Murray had it (who later went on to be in the Old 97s of all things), but when I asked him about it a couple of years ago he had no idea what I was talking about. So who knows where it wound up. Neither song is that great, honestly. There was some talk about putting “Alchemy” on Cottage Cheese instead of “Moo”, but since it was a hardcore compilation they went with the only hardcore song we did.
Immediately after we recorded those tracks (literally after the session ended), Brad, Tommy and David left for LA to escape the law (Tommy’s dad alerted him that the police were looking for them for the check writing scam). It was a strange way to break up a band – on good terms, just fleeing from the police.”