Wednesday, January 15, 2014

January 15: Don Van Vliet - AKA "Captain Beefheart" - was born on this date in 1941...


... he died on December 17, 2010 at 69. He suffered with multiple sclerosis for many years.

Born Donald Glen Vliet in Glendale, California he was a musician and visual artist best known by the stage name Captain Beefheart. His musical work used a rotating ensemble of musicians he called The Magic Band. Active between 1965 and 1982, "they" recorded 12 studio albums.
Noted for his powerful singing voice and a wide range, Van Vliet also played the harmonica, saxophone and numerous other wind instruments.

His music blended rock, blues and psychedelia with free jazz, avant-garde and contemporary experimental composition. He used a complex mix of instrumentation, atonal melodies, and often humorous lyrics guided by his unique vision.

With Frank Zappa

During his teen years in Lancaster, California, Van Vliet developed an eclectic musical taste and formed "a mutually useful but volatile" friendship with Frank Zappa, with whom he sporadically competed and collaborated. He began performing with his Captain Beefheart persona in 1964 and joined the original Magic Band in 1965. The group drew acclaim with their first album in 1967 on Buddah Records, Safe As Milk.

(Continued below video and Amazon portal ...)

HIGHLY Recommended (Press album covers for direct links to Amazon):
Trout Mask ReplicaSafe As MilkSpotlight Kid & Clear SpotMirror Man Sessions

After being dropped by two consecutive record labels, they signed to Frank Zappa's newly formed Straight Records. Zappa as producer granted Beefheart the unrestrained artistic freedom to release 1969's Trout Mask Replica, ranked fifty-eighth in Rolling Stone magazine's 2003 list of the 500 greatest albums of all time. Having not been paid for a European tour, and worn out from years of Beefheart's abusive behavior, the entire "Magic Band" left him in 1974. A brief and critically panned flirtation with more conventional rock music resulted in two albums he later disowned.

Beefheart then formed a new Magic Band with a group of younger musicians and regained contemporary approval through three final albums recorded between 1978 and 1982: Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller), Doc at the Radar Station and Ice Cream for Crow .

Van Vliet has been described as "one of modern music's true innovators" with "a singular body of work virtually unrivalled in its daring and fluid creativity".

Although he achieved little commercial or mainstream success, he sustained a cult following of New Wave, punk, post-punk, experimental and alternative rock musicians.

With "New" Magic Band
Known for his enigmatic personality and relationship with the public, Van Vliet made few public appearances after his retirement from music (and from his Beefheart persona) in 1982 to pursue a career in art, an interest that originated in his childhood talent for sculpture.

"Curve in the Dirt," by Don Van Vliet

His expressionist paintings and drawings demand high prices, and have been exhibited in several countries.


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