"Don Van Vliet (born Don Glen Vliet on January 15, 1941, in Glendale, California, U.S.) is an American musician and visual artist, best known by the pseudonym Captain Beefheart. His musical work was mainly conducted with a rotating assembly of musicians called The Magic Band, which was active from the mid-1960s through to the early 1980s. Van Vliet was chiefly a singer and harmonica player, occasionally playing noisy, untrained free jazz-influenced saxophone and keyboards. His compositions are characterized by their odd mixtures of shifting time signatures and by their surreal lyrics, while Van Vliet himself is noted for his dictatorial approach to his musicians and for his enigmatic relationship with the public.
Van Vliet joined the newly formed Magic Band in 1965, quickly taking over as bandleader. Their early output was rooted in blues and rock music, but Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band (as they were called, collectively) gradually adopted a more experimental approach. 1969 saw the release of their best known album, Trout Mask Replica, which was produced by Van Vliet's childhood friend Frank Zappa and is today regarded by some as a challenging but groundbreaking and influential masterpiece. Van Vliet released several more albums throughout the 1970s, but his group was beset by shifting line-ups and a lack of commercial success. Towards the end of that decade, he settled with a group of younger musicians and received acclaim for his three final albums, released between 1978 and 1982. Van Vliet's legacy is one of limited commercial success, but nonetheless one with a devoted following. Despite this lack of commercial success, his influence on musicians, especially those of the punk and new wave genres, has been described as "incalculable".
Since the end of his musical career around 1982, Van Vliet has made few public appearances, preferring a quiet life in his northern Humboldt County, California home where he has concentrated on a career in painting. His interest in art dates back to a childhood talent for sculpting, and his work—employing what has been described as a "neo-primitive abstract-expressionist aesthetic" has received international recognition. Several of Van Vliet's former band members recently reformed as a group, and toured as The Magic Band from 2003 to 2006.
The Captain Beefheart Radar Station:
The Radar Station is an unofficial, non-profit making fan site dedicated to Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band, and Don Van Vliet the painter. Set up in 1998 to promote Don's art and music, it is entirely independent of any record or publishing companies.
The primary aim of the Radar Station is to help ensure that Don's extraordinary contribution to and influence upon 20th Century alternative culture is never forgotten or overlooked.
The Radar Station features a vast online archive of all kinds of items relating to the life, art and music of Don Van Vliet, including exclusive interviews with band members and associates, countless press cuttings, photographs, tributes from admirers, paintings by Don Van Vliet, news, rare videos, and so much more. Containing around two and a half thousand files, I suspect it is the biggest collection of publicly accessible Beefheart memorabilia in the world (if you've got a bigger collection, let me know and we'll team up!).
beefheart.com also features its own streaming audio radio show, serving up a small slice of all kinds of adventurous music from hip-hop to Krautrock, free-jazz to drum and bass, post-rock to psychedelic punk, country blues to electronica, exotica to bebop
Captain Beefheart & Magic Band - Sure 'nuff 'n Yes I do (1968)
Captain Beefheart - The Blimp (mousetrapreplica)
Captain Beefheart - Live In Belgium 1969
Capain Beefheart & His Magic Band - Detroit '71
Captain Beefheart - Trout Mask LP Promo
Beefheart on Letterman
Captain Beefheart - Electricity