Born: 8th January 1949, Hawthorne, nr Long Beach, C.A., USA
American guitarist & arranger, most renowned for his work in The Magic Band, fronted by Captain Beefheart. He was later a founder-member of Mallard.
Harkleroad began his musical career as a somewhat recalcitrant child, learning the accordion, drums and then plucking a few tunes on his sister's ukulele in his early teens. His first gig was with a borrowed Silvertone and his first acquistion was a Fender Duosonic, played in high-school bands such as The Polaras, The Nighthawks and The Plague.
By 1964 his hair had grown - a mark of fashion in the 60's - and the 15 year-old Harkleroad became a member of BC & The Cavemen, along with Mark Boston on bass & PG Blakely on drums. Harkleroad's father worked in aircraft production for Douglas and North American so, by this time, the family had moved to Palmdale - near to the plant that would eventually become Edwards Airforce Base.
After circulating among the disaffected teenagers out in the wilds of Antelope Valley, among them Frank Zappa, John French, Jeff Cotton and Don Van Vliet, Harkleroad had a chance to demonstrate his virtuosity to early members of The Magic Band. On graduating from high-school he then gigged for a period out at Lake Tahoe and then had the opportunity to audition for what would become the line-up on Trout Mask Replica. This was prior to the band being ensconced in the renowned 'Magic Band House' on Entrada Drive in Woodland Hills. He recorded three tracks at Sunset Sound with Cotton, French and Rising Sons bassist Gary Marker - these were "Moonlight On Vermont", "Veteran's Day Poppy" and "Kandy Korn". The latter did not appear on the subsequent album, but the first two were edited into the final album take at T.T.G.
It was at this time that Harkleroad was given his 'Zoot Horn Rollo' title by Don Van Vliet. He also claims, in his well-documented book Lunar Notes: Zoot Horn Rollo's Captain Beefheart Experience by Bill Harkleroad & Billy James, that he only had his flute at the house, but never actually played it on the recording of TMR. Like many members of the now rotating Magic Band, Harkleroad endured the ups-and-downs of life under the spell of the Mercurial 'Captain Beefheart'. In 1974 he briefly teamed up with a rare reappearance of Alex St. Clair in The Magic Band for the album Unconditionally Guaranteed. This was followed by a mass exodus of the band members, who had to be replaced for the support-tour. However, after various gigs out at Blue Lake without Vliet, the remnants of this group with Harkelroad formed themselves into Mallard. A band that was given much assistance by Ian Anderson, both financially and in terms of providing his mobile recording facilities for the sessions in the UK.
After Mallard broke-up, Harkleroad moved to Oregon and eventually moved into a role of guitar-tutoring. He has also done work with Henry Kaiser and Billy James - aka Ant-Bee.