Don Van Vliet (Captain Beefheart) died on 17th December, 2010.
Captain Beefheart, Mojave Desert, 1980; photograph by Anton Corbijn.
Musician and painter, Van Vliet was a true artist: original, eccentric and uncompromising. With The Magic Band he produced a series of extraordinary albums, including what is widely regarded as his masterpiece: Trout Mask Replica, 1969. Accounts of the bizarre and traumatic circumstances of the recording of this album are legendary. (Fast and Bulbous... Tapered, too.)
Trout Mask Replica, 1969, album cover
I never saw Captain Beefheart perform, but I treasure seeing 'Captain Beefheart's Magic Band' (that is, without the Captain) at the Carling Academy in Bristol in 2004. The Magic Band, in this instance, were Mark 'Rockette Morton' Boston and John 'Drumbo' French (both contributors to Trout Mask Replica) plus Gary 'Mantis' Lucas and Denny 'Feelers Rebo' Walley (both contributors to later albums).
In 1982 Van Vliet retired from music to devote himself to painting.
Don Van Vliet, Rolled Roots Gnarled Like Rakers, 1985 (Michael Werner Gallery)
Read obituaries and appreciations by, Caroline Boucher, Alexis Petridis, Sean O'Hagan. See also The Captain Beefheart Radar Station.