RIP Don Van Vliet (a.k.a. Captain Beefheart)

Words can’t begin to express how very, very sad I am right now. Don Van Vliet was one of the most inventive, influential and amazing musicians in the history of rock and roll (and a damn fine painter, too). I’ll write another post later but I’m too bummed at the moment to compile anything meaningful. Just do me a favor. Crank this video and boogie in his honor. I think Don would like that.

MORE: Nice New York Times write-up. Another good one from Spin.

Posted by Kevin K. on 12/17/10 at 05:55 PM • Permalink

Categories: MusicMusic News

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A wonderfully, richly, peculiar and special artist. So sorry to hear it.

So goes one of the great 20th century artists. I have no words… His work changed my life.

I’m going to grow fins :(

His work changed my life.

Me, too. He was my Elvis.

To give you an idea of how much he influenced my life, I always give my hard drives Beefheart-related names and my ringtone is the intro to “When I See Mommy, I Feel Like a Mummy.” Plenty more examples like that. I’m surprised Biscuit (our cat) isn’t named Ella Guru or Harry Irene. One of my fondest memories of when Chris and I first started living together is when I came home from work and she was listening to Shiny Beast on her own. Loud. I also had the pleasure of talking with him a couple of times on the phone, including one call that lasted 2 hours. Best phone call of my life. You can read an account of it here. It was transcribed from my old fanzine by some overseas Beefheart fan who obviously doesn’t care for caps. Regardless, it’s nice to have it online somewhere.

That interview was a fun read.  What a fascinating, ricocheting {...wall-ceiling-floor-wall-wall…} intellect.

Sorry for the sucky news.

Bummer, Kevin. Sorry. That was a nice jam you posted.

That interview was a fun read.  What a fascinating, ricocheting {...wall-ceiling-floor-wall-wall…} intellect.

Thanks, everyone.

Yeah, the guy who reproduced it did some weird editing with it (he changed “morning” to “breakfast,” for instance), but I haven’t done a full 1:1 comparison. I still have a cassette of that second phone call with him that I really should convert to digital one of these days. It was short, but there were some great quotes. I had a WAV file of him saying “It scares Christians,” but I misplaced it over the years.

Well. Fuck.

I just heard the news on the BBC. I knew I’d get more details here. Shiny Beast is one of my most influential albums ever. Captain Beefheart also set an example for me that I could do music and visual art simultaneously. And Kevin, special thanks to you for exposing me to the Captain so many years ago.

I immediately thought of you when I heard this sad news. Well, it was a life well lived. That’s the best any of us can hope for.

Nice tribute by “Tristero” (IRL, composer Richard Einhorn) over at Digby’s place.

As a 19-year old student at Columbia and DJ at WFMU, Einhorn did an hour-long interview with Don Van Vliet in 1971.  For reasons detailed in his post, Einhorn assumes the interview is posted on the intertubes… somewhere.  I didn’t have luck finding it, only turning up a few references to the interview, but not the audio itself.  (I’m not on the Book of Faces; maybe it’s available there?)

Einhorn’s explanation of Vliet’s music to those new to it is particularly lucid and informative - that’s down in the sixth paragraph or so.

Comment by meepmeep09 on 12/18/10 at 11:42 AM
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