Friday, December 17, 2010

Captain Beefheart Passed Away At The Age Of 69

For all of my good friends who can identify with the fact that I am telling my age with this one, I am passing on that Captain Beefheart has passed away today, Friday, December 17, 2010.

I have always marched to a different drummer so to speak and I like the quirky edge of many things dealing with art and music.

The avant-garde rock legend and visual artist Don Van Vliet, who performed under the name, Captain Beefheart, passed away today of complications from multiple sclerosis at a hospital in Northern California this morning at age 69.

Captain Beefheart was not only a musician but also an artist. A representative of New York City’s Michael Werner Gallery, which showed his paintings, confirms the sad news.

Born in California in 1941, Van Vliet dubbed himself Captain Beefheart and began experimenting with eccentric rock’n'roll sounds in the mid-1960s. His first two releases with the Magic Band drew positive notice from some connoisseurs but failed to connect with the wider public. (Much like Frank Zappa too) In fact, Van Vliet forged a close creative partnership with Frank Zappa, a former high school classmate, who signed Beefheart to his Straight Records and produced 1969′s Trout Mask Replica. While the bizarre double album was not a major commercial success, it quickly became a cultural landmark. Van Vliet effectively redefined the frontiers of popular music, singing snatches of surreal imagery in disturbing tones over music that drew on blues, jazz, psychedelia, and a thousand other subgenres. Trout Mask Replica is still cited today as an essential art-rock document.

Van Vliet continued recording as Captain Beefheart with a rotating group of Magic Band members through 1982. In later years, he shifted his primary focus to creating visual art, a world in which he won some acclaim. The Michael Werner Gallery displayed his work for decades, with their most recent Van Vliet show occurring in 2007. Earlier this month, one of Van Vliet’s paintings was reportedly being offered at an asking price of $40,000.


  1. I must sadly confess that I did not know the man. My 'formative' musical years were more attached to classical and jazz. Thanks for the biography, though. I love his nom de plume.

  2. I hadn't been here for a few days and I didn't see this post.
    BeefHeart was a big part of what I am today, my esthetic and feelings about art and creativity.
    There is a Zappa cd called "The Lost Episodes" which has some really amazing stuff recorded on reel to reel in a high school with Frank, Don and Franks Brother...
    Then a few years later, the proto Beef heart cut, Tiger Roach...
    Alley improvised cut with the Magic Band and Frank on lead guitar, brilliant stuff
    The the spoken pieces, I'm A Band Leader and The Grand Wazoo, which were later orchestrated by Frank using his Kurtzweiler sampler....
    I think that Frank's production on Trout Mask Replica left a bit to be desired, but Lick My Decals Off was a magnificent overlooked recording.
    His vision and influence will live long beyond. As Tom Waits...and who could not deny the influence of Beefheart on Waits said, Once you\ve heard Beefheart, it's like a stain on a shirt you can never get out, like blood or chocolate.....

  3. i just heard the news and downloading a documentary on him