Saturday, December 18, 2010

Farewell, Don Van Vliet

Long suffering from multiple sclerosis, Don Van Vliet died yesterday at the age of 69. As Captain Beefheart and leader of the Magic Band, Van Vliet laid down one of the skankiest, fattest, most eclectic blues-rock records of the ‘60s with Safe as Milk before following the more avant garde muse that led to him recording the album for which he is best known. With its crazed structures, cartoonish lyricism, and freaky fusion of Rock & Roll, blues, and free jazz, Trout Mask Replica (1969) has to be the most demanding record widely regarded as a Rock classic. He continued recording with the Magic Band through 1982 before retiring from music to pursue expressionistic art. Van Vliet left behind an incomparable legacy that influenced artists ranging from John Lennon to Tom Waits to PJ Harvey.
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