Captain Beefheart, legendary artist, musician, and perhaps one of the last true characters from an era when the quest for uniqueness was paramount, has died aged 69.
Born as Donald Glen Vliet on January 15th, 1941, he passed away after complications with multiple sclerosis.
Beefheart was at the core of avant-garde and inspired the music of bands such as Roxy Music (particularly Brian Eno) who used his ideas as a platform for musical eccentricity, while still maintaining a strong commercial element.
It was during the 1960’s with The Magical Band that his musical career built a head of steam. He was known for his quirky lyrics and often atonal melodies. In the early 1980s before he hung up his microphone in order to focus on his paintings which turned out to be a more pleasurable and lucrative living.
Beefheart’s music was never easy on the ear, but it went through phases of less difficult to extremely difficult. In the mid 60’s he delivered the garage punk sounding Safe as Milk which sounded driven, but somehow familiar.
In 1969 however, through Frank Zappa’s Straight Records he released Trout Mask Replica, a sideways musical extravaganza that was only out-weirded by Tim Buckley’s Starsailor that came the following year, also through Zappa’s label.
Beefheart always marched to the beat of his own drum and was a truly unique character – inspiration to some, source of irritation for most. Whether loved or loathed it is sad to lose one of the last progenitors of avant-garde.
Leave a tribute to Captain Beefheart in the comments section.
images: 991.com, corbijn.co.uk