1941 – 2010
Experimental Blues/Avant-garde musician and visual artist Don Van Vliet aka Captain Beefheart has passed away at the age of 69.
As Captain Beefheart, Don had an influence on most musicians working on the fringe today. I remember finding Safe As Milk and Trout Mask Replica in my dad’s record collection as a kid and being turned off by his sound. To my young years it didn’t sound the way music was supposed to sound. But as I got older and my ears tuned to the later work of Tom Waits, I realized that those albums paved the way for some of my favorite music today. When Tom Waits met his wife she introduced him to these records and he went on to release Swordfishtrombones; the album that defined his new sound.
Don retired from music in in the the early 80’s and became somewhat of a recluse. He suffered from multiple sclerosis, but there is no news on what caused his death yet.
[update: it was from complications from multiple sclerosis]
[update: This is what Tom Waits had to say:
He was like the scout on a wagon train. He was the one who goes ahead and shows the way. He was a demanding bandleader, a transcendental composer (with emphasis on the dental), up there with Ornette [Coleman], Sun Ra and Miles [Davis]. He drew in the air with a burnt stick. He described the indescribable. He’s an underground stream and a big yellow blimp.
I will miss talking to him on the phone. We would describe what we saw out of our windows. He was a rememberer. He was the only one who thought to bring matches. He’s the alpha and the omega. The high water mark. He’s gone and he won’t be back]