Friday, December 17, 2010

O Captain, My Captain!

Captain Beefheart, aka Don Van Vliet, whose indescribable music melded Delta blues, avant garde jazz and Lord knows what else, is dead. He was 69.

According to the Associated Press, the reclusive Beefheart died from complications stemming from multiple sclerosis.

Although he hadn't released any new music for 25 years or so, Beefheart's influence can be heard in Tom Waits' stranger tunes to the crazier edges of punk rock and "alternative" music -- (I'm thinking of The Butthole Surfers, Thinking Fellers Union Local 282, Old Time Relijun, etc.)to the fucked-up crazy blues of Jon Spencer and Voodoo Rhythm bands like Stinky Lou & Goon Mat, Thee Butchers Orchestra and Juke Joint Pimps.

 When I interviewed Mark E. Smith of The Fall at Evangelos' in the early '80s one thing we talked about was our shared love for Captain Beefheart.

He was a high school chum of Frank Zappa. I always thought a great sitcom would be about Zappa and Beefheart in some 1950s high school, where everyone else seemed right out of Archie Comics.

This photo was taken in 1970 by my friend George Bullfrog. Follow this link to a bunch more of George's Beefheart shots. (If you are interested in purchasing a print of any or all of these pictures then please contact him at for details.)

Here's a good way to remember Beefheart. He directed this video himself.


  1. A most Troutly Mask Replica Steve...... Fast and Bulbous too ......worthy...

  2. Nice...and don't forget the Minutemen and Mike Watt. Def influenced by the Captain.


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