aka Don Van Vliet
, real name Don Vliet
(the van is an affectation) was, before his retirement from music to concentrate on his painting, one of the greatest musicians to come out of America (DJ John Peel
has described him as 'rock's only true genius')
A schoolfriend of Frank Zappa, he took his name from a proposed film Zappa was planning on making (before Studio Z was busted), a science fiction film entitled Captain Beefheart Meets The Grunt People. However the 'Beefheart' part of the name came, according to The Real Frank Zappa Book from Vliet's uncle's habit of, when Vliet's girlfriend was at his house, urinating with the bathroom door open and saying 'look at that, looks just like a great big beef heart' as she walked past.
Zappa and Beefheart worked on several projects together, mostly Howlin' Wolf soundalike tracks, in the early 60s before Beefheart formed the first of many line-ups of the Magic Band. Over the years this band would have many line-up changes, and include such notables as Ry Cooder, Roy Estrada, Jimmy Carl Black and Elliot Ingber. Most however left within a short time as Beefheart was considered too demanding a leader.
Beefheart's aim in his music was to combine avant-garde poetry, the rhythms and tonalities of free jazz (he was particularly influenced by Ornette Coleman) and the timbre of Chicago blues. When it worked well, this music was unlike anything else ever created, although it is in some respects simillar to that of his occasional collaborator Zappa, and artists such as Pere Ubu, XTC and Tom Waits show obvious signs of his influence. Too often however his vision was compromised by record companies, resulting in weak albums such as Unconditionally Guaranteed
After 1982's Ice Cream For Crow, Beefheart gave up music to concentrate on his art, from which he derives both more pleasure and more money. He is a very private man, but it has been known for a number of years that he is suffering from a very serious degenerative illness, with similar symptoms to multiple sclerosis or motor neurone disease, although the exact diagnosis has not been made public.
The Legendary A&M Sessions
Safe As Milk
Trout Mask Replica
Lick My Decals Off, Baby
The Spotlight Kid
Bluejeans & Moonbeams
Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller)
Doc At the Radar Station
Ice Cream For Crow
Grow Fins: Rarities 1965-1982
Frank Zappa albums featuring Beefheart:
One Size Fits All
The Lost Episodes
And remember - A squid eating dough in a polyethylene bag is fast and bulbous - got me?