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Don Van Vliet (born Donald Glen Vliet on January 15, 1941, in Glendale, California, U.S.) is an American musician and visual artist, best known by the pseudonym Captain Beefheart. His musical work was mainly conducted with a rotating assembly of musicians called The Magic Band, which was active from the mid-1960s through to the early 1980s. Van Vliet was chiefly a singer and harmonica player, occasionally playing noisy, untrained free jazz-influenced saxophone and keyboards. His compositions are characterized by their odd mixtures of shifting time signatures and by their surreal lyrics, while Van Vliet himself is noted for his dictatorial approach to his musicians and for his enigmatic relationship with the public.

Van Vliet joined the newly formed Magic Band in 1965, quickly taking over as bandleader. Their early output was rooted in blues and rock music, but Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band (as they were called, collectively) gradually adopted a more experimental approach. 1969 saw the release of their best known album, Trout Mask Replica, which was produced by Van Vliet's childhood friend Frank Zappa and is today regarded by some as a challenging but groundbreaking and influential masterpiece.[1] Van Vliet released several more albums throughout the 1970s, but his group was beset by shifting line-ups and a lack of commercial success. Towards the end of that decade, he settled with a group of younger musicians and received acclaim for his three final albums, released between 1978 and 1982. Van Vliet's legacy is one of limited commercial success, but nonetheless one with a devoted following. Despite this lack of commercial success, his influence on musicians, especially those of the punk and new wave genres, has been described as "incalculable".[2]

Since the end of his musical career around 1982, Van Vliet has made few public appearances, preferring a quiet life in his northern Humboldt County, California home where he has concentrated on a career in painting. His interest in art dates back to a childhood talent for sculpting, and his work—employing what has been described as a "neo-primitive abstract-expressionist aesthetic"[3]—has received international recognition. Several of Van Vliet's former band members recently reformed as a group, and toured as The Magic Band from 2003 to 2006.

Indexed at Wikipedia.

Chords and Tabs: Captain Beefheart