Friday, December 17, 2010


Don Van Vliet (1941-2010)

Don Van Vliet, Check Bif, 1986

The artist Don Van Vliet has passed away today in a hospital in northern California.

As well known to the music world as Captain Beefheart, who with his Magic Band, merrily terrorized the world from 1965-1982. There were twelve studio albums released, the last being Ice Cream for Crow.

Trout Mask Replica (1969) should be listened to to be believed. All the albums are required listening for entrance to either heaven or hell.

If you saw the group, you probably haven't forgotten, no matter the drugs or time delay.

Susan still smiles and shakes her head "no thanks" when asked what it was like seeing the master and his band in concert in its heyday (early). She has a little bit of say here being second cousin to Don Van Vliet's wife Janet. Janet "Jan" Van Vliet was older sister to Jim Jenkins, skilled mountaineer, who wrote two detailed guide books mapping out much of the southern Sierra, including the Pacific Crest Trail.
Jim died young, in 1979, on a California highway stopping to assist a motorist in need. His mother Ruby would continue the good work revising the guide books until her own passing in 2007.

This deep deep California history.

One day the town of Lancaster, California will be remembered as the town that survived having both Frank Zappa and Don Van Vliet in the same high school (Antelope Valley High School), already teaming up with their combined hothead interest in rhythm & blues.

The Captain would retire from music in 1982 and devote the rest of his life, far from the maddening crowd, to his expressionist paintings. Here and there he was known to show up as a contributor to a few recordings. Years enduring multiple sclerosis would eventually take him.

don van vliet photo:
beefheart & zappa: