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Captain Beefheart
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    (January 15, 1941-December 17, 2010)
    Birth name is Don Glen Vliet
    Lead singer/lyricist of 'Captain Beefheart & his Magic Band' (1964-1982)
    Recorded with his Magic Band 'Safe as Milk,' 'Strictly Personal,' 'Trout Mask Replica,' 'Lick My Decals Off, Baby,' 'Mirror Man,' 'The Spotlight Kid,' 'Clear Spot,' 'Unconditionally Guaranteed,' 'Bluejeans & Moonbeams,' 'Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller),' 'Doc at the Radar Station,' 'Ice Cream for Crow'
    Recorded with Frank Zappa for 'Hot Rats,' and 'Bongo Fury'
    He smoked.
    There are various stories behind how he earned his nickname.
    One story is, his uncle used to grope his groin, and say 'It looks like a big ol' beefheart.'
    Another is, it was the title of a character he was supposed to play in a movie script written by Frank Zappa.
    He claims he only went a half-day in kindergarten despite the fact there is a known graduation picture of him.
    He worked as a travelling vacuum salesman.
    Aldous Huxley ended up buying a Hoover Vacuum from him because of his sales pitch: 'I can assure you, sir, these things really suck.'
    During the recording of Trout Mask Replica, he and his Magic Band held in a house for 9 months, rehearsing the music he wrote in 8 hours.
    His bandmates say he is, at times, rather hard to work with, being somewhat of a tyrant.
    He gave all of his musicians band names, like 'Zoot Horn Rollo,' 'the Mascara Snake,' and 'Brave Midnight Hatsize.'
    He said of his notoriously dictatorial approach to making music, 'I'm an only child. A tyrant. Irascible.'
    His abuse of cocaine resulted in damaging his vocal chords. This can be heard in his last two albums.
    In 1982, he quit music and dedicated his life to painting.
    When he left music, he dropped his stage name, dropped 'Glen, and added 'Van' to his original name.
    When asked why he changed his name, he said 'It makes me itch to think of myself as Captain Beefheart....I don't even have a boat.'
    Although his albums were critically acclaimed, they sold rather poorly.
    An artistic child prodigy, by the age of five he was showing his sculpting skills regularly on TV, and offered a scholarship at 13.
    He has a four-and-one-half octave vocal range.
    He taught himself to sing and play harmonica, sax, and clarinet.
    He and Frank Zappa were childhood friends, but lost contact of each other after the release of 'Bongo Fury' for various reasons.
    Trout Mask Replica and Safe as Milk features regularly in rock critics' 'Greatest Album Ever' lists.
    His music successfully employed idiosyncratic rhythms, absurd lyrics and blending free jazz, Delta blues, latter-day classical music and rock & roll to create a very original sound.
    Many musicians who have worked with him consider it to be the formative experience of their lives as musicians.
    He influenced many and has many admirers including Pere Ubu, P.J. Harvey, Primus, John Lydon, Beck, Flea, Tom Waits, the White Stripes, David Byrne, John Peel, Frank Black, Woody Allen, Devo, Public Image Ltd, Nick Cave, Matt Groening and Mike Patton.
    His legacy is one of critical acclaim, and a devoted following.
    He suffers with multiple sclerosis, but still paints.
    He once said 'If you want to be a different fish, you got to jump out of the school.'
    BBC DJ John Peel, stated, 'If there has ever been such a thing as a genius in the history of popular music, it's Beefheart.'

Credit: Jughead and Long Tall Sally

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