Captain Beefheart

Monday, 20 December 2010

Musician, singer-songwriter and artist (15 January 1941 – 17 December  2010), born Don Glen Vliet 

Captain Beefheart

The press statement released by the Michael Werner Gallery announcing the passing of Don Van Vliet, better known to the musical cognoscenti as Captain Beefheart referred to a truly rare and unique vision, which is, one suspects, a fairly substantial understatement.

When it comes to artists who can deliver serious far out street cred, there aren't many that can empty a room quite as fast as the Trout Mask Replica-era Beefheart. While his subsequent work was scattered at various points on a continuum between way out there beyond where the buses don't run and uncomfortably close to the middle of the road, anyone looking to investigate his work would be best advised to start with his earliest work and keep a finger on the shuffle button once you've passed the vicinity of Strictly Personal.

Acknowledged status as a Beefheart fan might deliver you hip credibility but it's not the sort of thing you put on when a couple of friends drop by for a quiet drink.

Unless they're that sort of friend, of course.

In those circumstances it’s probably not going to be a quiet drink, and you can probably expect subsequent difficulties with the neighbours.

Somewhere along the course of Hughesy's various writing projects I'll probably get around to considering the suburban origins of some of the furthest out there artists, but you'd probably be pushed to come up with a more unlikely environment than Antelope Valley High School in Lancaster California, the alma mater that gave us Frank Zappa and Don Van Vliet.


B© Ian Hughes 2012