The reign of Captain Beefheart and how he changed rock music forever


“Don Van Vliet, or more famously known as ‘Captain Beefheart’, was born today, January 15th, in 1941. Over the span of 18 years making music as Captain Beefheart and with his Magic Band; he fused blues, free jazz, and the avant-garde with prolific effect. His lyrical content would often contain elements of absurdity and had a kind of music of its own which would often mirror the instrumentation of his songs. When Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band’s debut album came out in 1967, Safe as Milk, which was preceded by a cover of Bo Diddley song ‘Diddy Wah Diddy’, it prompted music critics to call Don Van Vliet the ‘best white blues singer’. In an interview with John Letterman in 1982, Don explained the meaning behind his name: ‘A beef in my heart against society.’ Mike Barnes quotes Captain Beefheart in his biography, revealing: ‘I was born with my eyes open—I didn’t WANT to be born—I can remember deep down in my head that I fought against my mother bringing me into the world,’ he said, before adding: ‘I remember when the jerk slapped me on the fanny and I saw the yellow tile and I thought what a hell of a way to wake somebody up.’ This sense of absurdity disguised as humour definitely encapsulates the mood of many of Beefheart’s records, even his first two which many would call the most accessible. At heart, the man behind his trout mask and who goes by the moniker Captain Beefheart was not much of a musician in the traditional sense, that he didn’t know how to write or play many instruments. He was, however, a true blues singer in spirit. His overall output as a songwriter and artist is a wild rollercoaster ride of crazy trips and imaginative explorations of where minds have never been before – with a smattering of beautiful, albeit seldom – soul and blues ballads that are not too far away from what someone like Joe Cocker might do. 1967’s Safe as Milk features Captain Beefheart’s most accessible music, and while it is a product of the times, it also exists outside of the influence and zeitgeist of the hippie era. Beefheart’s massive impact and how he changed the face of rock ‘n’ roll, is that he was way ahead of his time. Before punk even existed, it could be argued that Captain Beefheart and His Magic Band were already making new wave music with their first album. …”
FAR OUT (Video)
Look At My Beef Art: Works On Paper By Don Van Vliet
Captain Beefheart Radar Station: Paintings, Paintings and sketches


Feather Times A Feather, 1982

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