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Captain Beefheart, RIP
December 17, 2010 2:22 PM   Subscribe

Sad news out of California today for the avant-garde and experimental rock world: Rocks Off has learned from multiple online sources that Don Van Vliet of influential rockers Captain Beefheart passed away today at the age of 69 after a battle with multiple sclerosis. Van Vliet's management confirmed his death to Rolling Stone.
posted by chavenet (168 comments total) 11 users marked this as a favorite

 
Sorry to hear this.

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posted by jokeefe at 2:23 PM on December 17, 2010


shit.

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a memory ...
posted by philip-random at 2:25 PM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


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posted by Joey Michaels at 2:25 PM on December 17, 2010


In lieu of a period, I would like to post an atonal tenor saxophone sqawk. Sadly, it will not translate into text. Therefore:

.

If there's an afterlife, I hope Don and Frank are already working on a follow-up to Bongo Fury.
posted by SansPoint at 2:25 PM on December 17, 2010 [5 favorites]


More than just about any other artist, Captain Beefheart was repsponsible for expanding my musical palette. As a highschooler looking beyond British rock and New Wave, Beefheart albums were challenging and at times difficult to listen to. But there was something so damn intriguing that I kept coming back to them, each time picking up something new and becoming more comfortable with another aspect of his sound and delivery. I got into the various stages of his career at different times over the next twenty years, but each time I did those records also paved the way for my acceptance of other artists and genres. He taught me that there's more to enjoy in music than just a catchy pop melody, and sometimes the obvious musical path isn't the most rewarding. Thanks Captain for weird and wonderfully enjoyable journey.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 2:26 PM on December 17, 2010 [6 favorites]


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posted by djseafood at 2:26 PM on December 17, 2010


The world got smaller and less weird today. It's going in the wrong direction.
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:27 PM on December 17, 2010 [10 favorites]


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posted by lapolla at 2:28 PM on December 17, 2010


I was just cobbling together an obit post but I figured somebody would get to it first.

Beefheart was the best. I pretty much consider his work to be actually, literally mystical or shamanic on some level. Nobody has ever plugged so directly into so many pure strands of American weirdness at once and done it with so much depth and heart. There is nothing on earth that I hold in higher esteem than Beefheart's music. Obviously he's been ill a long time and any fan knew this day could come any time, but it's still pretty gutting.

I don't think I can actually watch this clip right now as I'll probably start bawling, but here he was at his top-dollar best...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hCSPf5Viwd0
posted by anazgnos at 2:29 PM on December 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


double album

. .
posted by Joe Beese at 2:30 PM on December 17, 2010


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posted by williampratt at 2:30 PM on December 17, 2010


Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck.

If you got ears, you gotta listen.
posted by maudlin at 2:31 PM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


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posted by brundlefly at 2:31 PM on December 17, 2010


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posted by cosmac at 2:32 PM on December 17, 2010


Beam in on me baby,
and we'll beam together
I know we always been together,
but there's more.
posted by MuffinMan at 2:32 PM on December 17, 2010


"The largest living land mammal is the absent mind."

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posted by Kinbote at 2:32 PM on December 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


Fast and bulbous.

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posted by buriednexttoyou at 2:32 PM on December 17, 2010


Dammit 2010.

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posted by naju at 2:32 PM on December 17, 2010


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posted by Smart Dalek at 2:33 PM on December 17, 2010


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The dust blows forward n' the dust blows back.
posted by Dr-Baa at 2:34 PM on December 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


Surreal one-off web comics will never be the same.
posted by adipocere at 2:34 PM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hats off.
posted by uraniumwilly at 2:35 PM on December 17, 2010


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posted by interrobang at 2:36 PM on December 17, 2010


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posted by -t at 2:36 PM on December 17, 2010


That human got me blues.

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posted by munchingzombie at 2:37 PM on December 17, 2010


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posted by steambadger at 2:39 PM on December 17, 2010


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posted by DaddyNewt at 2:39 PM on December 17, 2010


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posted by brennen at 2:39 PM on December 17, 2010


Captain Beefheart didn't just push the envelope, he turned it into an inside out cupcake.
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 2:39 PM on December 17, 2010 [6 favorites]


Well.

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posted by The Discredited Ape at 2:41 PM on December 17, 2010


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posted by Iridic at 2:42 PM on December 17, 2010


Welp fuck.
posted by Threeway Handshake at 2:44 PM on December 17, 2010


"Grows Fins" The Captain Beefheart Story (5 page somewhat true webcomic)
posted by neustile at 2:44 PM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


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posted by Thorzdad at 2:46 PM on December 17, 2010


REST IN PEACE CAPTAIN BEEFHEART WFMU Dec 17 2010: They're playing a tribute to him right now. You can stream it through a browser.

Playlist / Comments

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posted by zarq at 2:47 PM on December 17, 2010 [5 favorites]


...
posted by kozad at 2:48 PM on December 17, 2010


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posted by interrupt at 2:49 PM on December 17, 2010


Crying a bit.
posted by johnny novak at 2:50 PM on December 17, 2010


Sudden uncontrollable blast of MeFi Past (and related MeTa). I can't see the words "Captain Beefheart" without thinking of those threads, for some reason.
posted by Gator at 2:51 PM on December 17, 2010


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posted by roll truck roll at 2:58 PM on December 17, 2010


He was one of those guys that influenced a lot of people that influenced me. RIP.
posted by malocchio at 2:59 PM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


One of the people that made the world a better and more interesting place. RIP

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posted by readery at 3:00 PM on December 17, 2010


This is the passing of one of the giants of American music, and at the relatively young age of 69, it's sad. I love so much his playfulness:

i saw you baby dancing
in your x-ray gingham dress
i knew you were under duress
i knew you under your dress


his rhythm:

Woe-is-a-me-bop
Om-drop-a-re-bop-om
Everbody's doin' it
Please don't let them ruin it, om


his wild and fearless spirit:

Rather than I want to hold your hand,
I wanna swallow you whole
'n I wanna lick you everywhere it's pink
'n everywhere you think


and his humor:

I’m playin’ this music
So the young girls will come out
To meet the monster tonight


So long, Don Van Vliet, and thanks for all the great music.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 3:01 PM on December 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


Oh goddammit. Beefheart changed my life. Fast and bulbous, indeed.

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posted by BitterOldPunk at 3:04 PM on December 17, 2010


"she stuck out her tongue and the fun begun"

R.I.P. Don
posted by porn in the woods at 3:04 PM on December 17, 2010


> "Grows Fins" The Captain Beefheart Story (5 page somewhat true webcomic)

I have read and verified this to be utterly true in all ways except I am reasonably certain that Frank Zappa was an aficionado of the Danelectro Short Horn, not the Gibson Flying Vee.
posted by ardgedee at 3:04 PM on December 17, 2010


Fuck you Multiple Sclerosis, and your shitty little friends the complications.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 3:07 PM on December 17, 2010


'If there has been anything in the history of popular music which could be described as a work of art in a way that people who are involved in other areas of art would understand, then Trout Mask Replica is probably that work.' - John Peel

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posted by dersins at 3:08 PM on December 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


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posted by synaplex at 3:09 PM on December 17, 2010


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posted by Schlimmbesserung at 3:09 PM on December 17, 2010


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posted by Weighted Companion Cube at 3:10 PM on December 17, 2010


His Trout Mask will never be Replicated. A great, and underappreciated body of work.
posted by Kafkaesque at 3:12 PM on December 17, 2010


when I was done / I was far from through

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posted by $0up at 3:13 PM on December 17, 2010


"Mama, mama, here comes Doctor Dark."

Sadness.
posted by cairnish at 3:15 PM on December 17, 2010


Now you can go.
posted by Meatbomb at 3:15 PM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


.

...must listen to my Safe As Milk tonight...
posted by foonly at 3:16 PM on December 17, 2010


In 1981 my roommate brought home "Doc at the Radar Station", I don't remember why.

We didn't really think it was up there with Remain in LIght or Zenyatta Mondatta but we had fun quoting the lyrics back and forth to each other. (Telephone! Telephone!, whenever the phone would ring)

It wasn't until years later that I came to appreciate the sophistication of the poetry and the sheer physicality of the tracks. They seem to exist in space long after you listen to them.

.

Another nail in the coffin of my youth. Bastards.
posted by mmrtnt at 3:16 PM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]




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posted by fizzix at 3:19 PM on December 17, 2010


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posted by el_lupino at 3:19 PM on December 17, 2010


One Red Rose That I Mean
posted by kenko at 3:20 PM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


God, please, fuck my mind for good.
posted by anazgnos at 3:23 PM on December 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


so much great music.

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posted by mediareport at 3:25 PM on December 17, 2010


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posted by The Great Big Mulp at 3:28 PM on December 17, 2010


I still remember my dad playing me stuff like "Sun Zoom Spark" when I was a wee impressionable young'un. I never really explored his work beyond that - guess it's time to remedy that.

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posted by anthom at 3:30 PM on December 17, 2010


Death is always sad, but I hope that the cultural reportage of Mr. Van Vliet's passing will inspire the youth of today to check out his stuff.

This is the way I was introduced to Beefheart back in my alienated-nerd high school days, with instrumental assistance from Frank Zappa, et al.: Willie The Pimp, from Hot Rats, 1969.

(Side note: I don't want to open any particular cans of worms, but does anybody else think it's an eerie coincidence that this happens right after Tom Waits gets inducted into the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame?)
posted by Strange Interlude at 3:31 PM on December 17, 2010


crap. a friend of mine was posting old beefheart interview on letterman & i was getting a kick out of watching & then i flip over here & find out *why* he's posting the interviews and damn, damn, damn.

i could never take acid. tried it a few times & for whatever reason it weirded me out too much. but i could take beefheart. he opened my mind & my ears the way acid did for other people. a true pioneer.

.

and the two letterman links my friend posted.
posted by msconduct at 3:31 PM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


One Red Rose That I Mean
posted by kenko


As a window into both his process and his personality, the guitarist Gary Lucas described how that and a couple of similar guitar solos were composed. Don would sit at a piano with a cassette player that had an on-off switch on the mic. He would turn it on and record a fragment, switch it off while he worked out the next fragment, then turn it back on to record that, and so on.

Then the tape would be given to the guitarist, who was expected to replicate those notes exactly.

Gary calls him up halfway through, (it took months working several hours a day to transcribe one piece,) and says, "Don, you've got seven notes at once here, and I only have six strings." Don replied forcefully, "Well then you better find another one."
posted by StickyCarpet at 3:33 PM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sad

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posted by Sailormom at 3:38 PM on December 17, 2010


The world just got a little less fast, bulbous, and tapered.
posted by sourwookie at 3:38 PM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Sad news indeed! :(
posted by Katjusa Roquette at 3:39 PM on December 17, 2010


I remember seeing this graffito on the wall in high school, 1971-ish:
"Captain Beefheart for pop star."
We're still not there yet, and now he's gone.

Meanwhile, somewhere out there is another kid creatively taking a paper hole punch to a potted plant.

.
posted by Herodios at 3:42 PM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


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posted by omnidrew at 3:44 PM on December 17, 2010


i've always loved the bit about zappa doing trout mask replica from zappa's the real frank zappa book. excerpts:
... I wanted to do the album as if it were an anthropological field recording -- in his house. The whole band was living in a small house in the San Fernando Valley (we could use the word cult in here). ... I thought it would be great to go to Don's house with this portable rig and put the drums in the bedroom, the bass clarinet in the kitchen and the vocals in the bathroom: complete isolation, just like in a studio -- except that the band members probably would feel more at home, since they were at home. ... Don got paranoid, accused me of trying to do the album on the cheap, and demanded to go into a real recording studio.
So we moved the whole operation to Glendale, into a place called Whitney, the studio I was using at that time -- owned by the Mormon church.
... After it was mixed, I did the editing and assembly in my basement. I finished at approximately 6:00 A.M. on Easter Sunday, 1969. I called them up and said, "Come on over; your album is done." They dressed up like they were going to Easter church and came over. They listened to the record and said they loved it.
can't figure out how to link to the passage, but you can find it here.
posted by msconduct at 3:44 PM on December 17, 2010


Oh, man, that's terrible. Say hi to Frank, Good Captain.

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posted by dbiedny at 3:45 PM on December 17, 2010


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posted by no mind at 3:46 PM on December 17, 2010


Six-part BBC documentary on Beefheart, narrated by John Peel
posted by naju at 3:47 PM on December 17, 2010 [6 favorites]


Damn.

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posted by klausness at 3:47 PM on December 17, 2010


I took off my pants and felt free...
posted by fartknocker at 3:50 PM on December 17, 2010


This is no damn good to anyone.
posted by pracowity at 3:57 PM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


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posted by Locobot at 4:08 PM on December 17, 2010


steal softly through sunshine, steal softly through snow .
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 4:11 PM on December 17, 2010


From this page, on the essential Captain Beefheart Radar Station site-

"The way I keep in touch with the world is very gingerly, because the world touches too hard"
1994

(that one hurts a bit to read, in retrospect)
and

"Be kind, man - don't be mankind."

1973 John Peel radio interview

Thank you, sir.
.
posted by hap_hazard at 4:11 PM on December 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


I just found out. I feel like I've been punched. I listened to Clear Spot a thousand times this summer.


Dammit.


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posted by louche mustachio at 4:18 PM on December 17, 2010


Well my cigarette died whenI washed my face
Dropped some drops in an ashtray hit a wrong place
Woman at my blinds to see spiders spinning lines
Its as safe as milk it's as safe as milk
I never heard it put quite that way
The shape I'm in is gone away
They called a day they called a day
Yesterday's paper headlines approach rain gutter teasing rusty cat sneezing
Sopping wet hammer dusty and wheezing
Lusty alley whining trashcan blues
Children running after rainbows stocking poor
Gracious ladies nylon hanging on to line
Jumping onto leg looking mighty fine

Sorrows lollipop lands stick-broken on a dark carnival ground
Pop-up toaster cracklin'
Aluminium rhythm and sound
Everyday pencil lazy and sharp
The icebox inside looking like a harp
Electric bulb been out for years
Freezer fumes feed the gas tears
Cheese in the corner with a mile-long beard
Bacon blue bread dog-eared
Bacon blue bread dog-eared

I may be hungry but I sure ain't weird.

-- "Safe As Milk (Take 5)", 1967
posted by BitterOldPunk at 4:24 PM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


.

Tight also.
posted by tumples at 4:29 PM on December 17, 2010


1997 BBC documentary:

Part 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:30 PM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Oh, should've previewed, just saw naju's link to the doco above...
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:32 PM on December 17, 2010


Uh thick cloud caught uh piper clubs tail
The match struck blue on uh railroad rail
The old puff horse was just pullin' thru
an' uh man wore uh peg leg forever

I'm on the bum where the hoboes run
The air breaks with filthy chatter
Oh I don't care there's no place there
I don't think it matters

My skin's blazin' thru
'n my clothes in tatters
'n the railroad looked
Like uh "Y" up the hill of ladders

Ohe shoe fell on the gravel
One stick poked down
Gray of age fell down on uh pair of ears
An eagle shined thru my
hole watch pocket

Uh gingham girl baby girl
Passed me by in tears
Uh jack rabbit raised his folded ears
Uh beautiful sagebrush jack rabbit

an oriole sang like an orange
His breast full uh worms
'n his tail clawed the evenin' like uh hammer
His wings took t' air like uh bomber
'n my rain can caught me uh cup uh water

When I got into town
Odd jobs mam
ah yer horse I'll fodder

I'm the round house man
I once was yer father

Uh little up the road uh wooden
Candy stripe barber pole
'n above it read uh sign "Painless Parker"

Licorice twisted around under uh fly
an' uh youngster cocked 'er eye
God before me if I'm not crazy
Is my daughter

Come little one with yer little dimpled fingers
Gimme one 'n I'll buy you uh cherry phosphate
Take you down t' the foamin' brine 'n water
an' show you the wooden tits
On the Goddess with the pole out s'full sail
That tempted away yer peg legged father

I was shanghai'd by uh high hat beaver moustache man
and his pirate friend
I woke up in vomit 'n beer in uh banana bin
'n uh soft lass with brown skin
Bore me seven babies with snappin' black eyes
'n beautiful ebony skin

now here it is I'm with you my daughter
Thirty years away can make uh seaman's eyes
Uh round house man's eyes flow out water
Salt water

posted by anazgnos at 4:34 PM on December 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


.

He inspired just about all my favorite artists, so I guess he lives on through them. So, stick around you guys. Don't you go off into the sunset for a while yet.
posted by katillathehun at 4:34 PM on December 17, 2010


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posted by millions at 4:34 PM on December 17, 2010


.

I am going to celebrate the Captain's memory by hosting a Tropical Hot Dog Night for friends and family, just as soon as I figure out what the hell a Tropical Hot Dog Night is.
posted by .kobayashi. at 4:38 PM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


I remember reading about Beefheart in the 80s and wondering what his music sounded like. Then, when I was about eighteen or so, I stumbled across a copy of Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller) in a cutout bin. Ye gods, it was so wonderful. I found more Beefheart in and out of cutout bins and it was all amazing. But right now I'm pretty annoyed with myself because most of my Beefheart stuff is on fucking cassettes. Cassettes!!!!
posted by cropshy at 4:38 PM on December 17, 2010


8. Don't wipe the sweat off your instrument

You need that stink on there. Then you have to get that stink onto your music. via
posted by Sailormom at 4:38 PM on December 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


When I listen to TMR, I hear so many other songs, other artists, who all came after.
RIP, Don.
posted by rocket88 at 4:40 PM on December 17, 2010


"There's no competition with our music. It can't be compared or impaired, or impaled with points or justifications...It means absolutely nothing, just like the sun."
posted by flapjax at midnite at 4:43 PM on December 17, 2010


Neon meat dream of an octafish...

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posted by jonp72 at 4:57 PM on December 17, 2010


Right there with ya, anazgnos, that been in on my profile page since I signed up for mefi.

My evening will now commence to be both bulbous and tapered.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 4:58 PM on December 17, 2010


I first learned of Captain Beefheart thanks to this album, which I got through the mail for chicken feed.

That album introduced me to a bunch of great music, including the good Captain's Ella Guru. Everybody I knew hated that song. That alone was enough to convince me that there was something good about Beefheart's music.

All the intervening years have only reinforced that view. The shit is good and meaty and nutritious, musically and artistically beneficial to the adventurous soul.
posted by metagnathous at 5:02 PM on December 17, 2010


Goodbye and thanks for the fish mask.
posted by I love you more when I eat paint chips at 5:11 PM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


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posted by ghharr at 5:13 PM on December 17, 2010


Like Son House, someone who I was fortunate enough to see in concert.

I am now recalling a Pamela Des Barres anecdote from I'm With The Band about sitting with Van Vliet in lawn chairs next to his trailer and watching the sunset, which brings a chuckle.

Ant Man Bee no more, alas and alack...
posted by y2karl at 5:17 PM on December 17, 2010


Someplace Peelie talks about hearing something on the radio that changes your life.

Fall of '69, hearing the local college station play Captain Beefheart on Zappa's Hot Rats.

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posted by AsYouKnow Bob at 5:30 PM on December 17, 2010


Oh, no! Sad news. What an interesting person he was in so many ways.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:33 PM on December 17, 2010


eghqngkoefsgmpsgrepw[eroaerkp'gfds;mfp'sdfgjpsdfk'g
posted by snofoam at 5:33 PM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


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posted by motty at 5:33 PM on December 17, 2010


Dag. RIP.
posted by Liquidwolf at 5:45 PM on December 17, 2010


She said "Baby, how long is your song?" / I said "Baby, as long as you want it to be".

Thanks, Don, and RIP - your song is still going on.
posted by ryanshepard at 5:51 PM on December 17, 2010


Puller. Puller. Bat chain puller.

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posted by Wolof at 5:54 PM on December 17, 2010


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posted by futureisunwritten at 5:58 PM on December 17, 2010


Blue Ocarina.
posted by ovvl at 6:00 PM on December 17, 2010


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posted by brevator at 6:00 PM on December 17, 2010


"Aw man. Way to ruin my weekend, RS.

I'm gonna mourn his passing by screeching poetry into a mic over a 5/4 blues riff. I suggest y'all do the same."

(I was going to post this on the Rolling Stone article, seeing as how no else has put up a comment there so far. But when I tried to hit 'send' on the RS site, I got a message saying "Your comment includes inappropriate words. Please edit." What the hell?!)
posted by spoobnooble at 6:01 PM on December 17, 2010


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posted by Adventurer at 6:08 PM on December 17, 2010


I bought Trout Mask (on 8-track) because Andy Partridge raved about it. It took me about two years of attempts to get all the way through it the first time. A year later it only took afew tries to get through it. Then a few years later I couldn't figure out why I didn't love it on the first listen. I had fallen in love with other Beefheart albums during that time, but Trout Mask was the elusive one. Tomorrow I'll paly it for the Captain (and annoy the hell out of Mrs. Agogo).
posted by Slack-a-gogo at 6:21 PM on December 17, 2010


My cat's name is Ella Guru.
posted by anazgnos at 6:26 PM on December 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


He was too weird for this world. Which is a shame on many different levels. He was utterly fearless about the way he presented his creative work. Not too many people can commit themselves to their art to the point where all their unpleasant strangeness is exposed in a very public manner, when most people who come to hear a "rock band" just want something familiar which makes them feel good - the exact opposite of what Captain Beefheart did. Beefheart didn't run from his own strange inner self but embraced that part of himself and celebrated it, which is also what his friend Frank Zappa did. They both happened to be incredible musicians, to the benefit of the rest of us who were fortunate enough to follow musical influences down dark alleys where the drunken circus clowns in trench coats hang out after midnight. Something like that.

I'm glad Zappa was also weird enough to have worked with the Captain as well as being his friend, which is how I ended up hearing his music. I'm ashamed to say I thought Don Van Vliet died some years back, but perhaps that's just because Zappa's death in 1993 seemed to overshadow all those decades of music, and now it seems like so long ago. It's been quite a while since I've listened to any of that music, but seems like a good excuse to dig Zoot Allures and Bongo Fury again.
posted by krinklyfig at 6:27 PM on December 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


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posted by tommasz at 6:30 PM on December 17, 2010


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posted by honeydew at 6:48 PM on December 17, 2010


which is also what his friend Frank Zappa did.

They didn't remain friends for long, and weren't on speaking terms at all after a point. Zappa rolled with the myth that he discovered Beefheart, but with time the consensus is arriving that Beefheart was the greater artist, and his work has had a much more important impact.
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:00 PM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


Dammit.

Abba Zabba Zoom, you big baboon.
posted by jonmc at 7:03 PM on December 17, 2010 [1 favorite]


A squid eating dough in a polyethylene bag is fast and bulbous.


Got me?
posted by nanojath at 7:08 PM on December 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


Charva :(
posted by jtron at 7:10 PM on December 17, 2010


. that old fart was smart... love (d) him
........................................ and yes I've been fast and bulbous... don't recommend it.

-lcc
posted by primdehuit at 7:14 PM on December 17, 2010


"...or maybe you'll go to the Van Vliet's dinner party, as planned, and ENJOY yourself!"
posted by pxe2000 at 7:18 PM on December 17, 2010


This one hurts.

Beefheart was... he was a man who made me understand that I knew shit about music. He was a man who made me understand that most people knew shit about music. He was a man who took me to musical places I couldn't even imagine. Sometimes, when it all gets too straight and stiff and painful I still can't imagine those places. So I put Trout Mask or Decals or Safe As or Spotlight or Shiny or Doc on again and then, then I remember those places and it's okay again.

Bless you, Don. You made my life better. You still do. You''re beyond humanity now... but then, you always were.
posted by Decani at 7:27 PM on December 17, 2010 [5 favorites]


No, it's hair pie...

May you go fast and bulbous to your final reward, good captain.
posted by AJaffe at 7:34 PM on December 17, 2010


Also: Strictly Personal ("overdone" production and all) is a great album and I'll fight any motherfucker who says otherwise.
posted by Lentrohamsanin at 7:47 PM on December 17, 2010


They didn't remain friends for long, and weren't on speaking terms at all after a point. Zappa rolled with the myth that he discovered Beefheart,

Dude. . . they went to high school together in the late 1950s. Zappa named him Captain Beefheart. They hung out and listened to blues records. They both became musicians and exacting band leaders. They made records together at Studio Z in the early 1960s. Zappa got him a recording contract in the mid-1960s and produced, engineered, and mixed Trout Mask Replica in 1969, the same year Beefheart appeared on Hot Rats. They went on tour together in 1975. Beefheart appeared on Zoot Allures the next year. . . ok we're up to, what, twenty years, now? I'm told that, as with a number of people Zappa'd parted with on bad terms, he and Beefheart reconnected before the end. I hope so, but that's none of our business.

Like Zappa, Vliet always knew exactly what he wanted out of his music but he was a disaster at just about everything else about being a working musician. Zappa helped him out big time at least twice: being a sympathetic producer for a prickly artist on Trout Mask Replica, and taking Vliet on the road for the Bongo Fury tour so he could make some bread at a time when he couldn't record and couldn't tour on his own because of all the conflicting contracts he'd signed.

Zappa never said anything different. It's in his book, fer cyin' out loud. If there's a myth that Zappa 'discovered' Beefheart, it didn't come from Zappa himself.
posted by Herodios at 8:14 PM on December 17, 2010 [3 favorites]


I was introduced to his music through"Bat Chain Puller" in the early 80's by an older and more musically open friend and it totally changed my perspective on what music could be. Thanks to that exposure I learned to appreciate all kinds of music from around the world and in numerous formats. Truly a visionary musician and artist. He will be missed.
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posted by white_devil at 8:24 PM on December 17, 2010


Zappa got him a recording contract in the mid-1960s and produced, engineered, and mixed Trout Mask Replica in 1969, the same year Beefheart appeared on Hot Rats. They went on tour together in 1975. Beefheart appeared on Zoot Allures the next year. . . ok we're up to, what, twenty years, now?

Yeah, that's true. Zappa did seem pretty respectful onstage in '69, although the sound in that community college gymnasium was awful.

But then it got to Zappa not returning phone calls about the promised master tapes he was withholding, and refusing to acknowledge him when he was confronted about it in person.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:10 PM on December 17, 2010


oops, that was onstage in 1975, somewhere around Pawtucket, Rhode Island.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:13 PM on December 17, 2010


During the Clear Spot tour, Beefheart's live shows featured a sound system designed by Serge Tcherepnin. And regarding those Letterman appearances, I wonder how many other guest came onstage to a standing ovation by Mr. Letterman.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:26 PM on December 17, 2010


My Korean neighbors are probably really curious as to just what I'm pushing out of my stereo speakers right now.
posted by bardic at 9:41 PM on December 17, 2010


.
posted by pahool at 9:43 PM on December 17, 2010


.
posted by Shrike at 9:46 PM on December 17, 2010


Zoot Horn Rollo lives down the street from me. I haven't met him yet.
posted by neuron at 9:51 PM on December 17, 2010


there's one thing that really pisses me off about this, has for years - it's that our "music" business neglected and ripped off a genius like this to the point where he gave up on it and decided to pursue his career as an artist instead, where at least he could make a decent living

it was a sane and understandable decision and it was our loss, not his

capt beefheart died in the early 80s, killed by an industry that didn't deserve him - i salute don van vliet for moving on and finding a better path for himself and mourn what could have been
posted by pyramid termite at 10:51 PM on December 17, 2010 [2 favorites]


and one more thing - he was the modern definition of an utterly creative person
posted by pyramid termite at 10:52 PM on December 17, 2010


The music was thud-like.
Horribly foreshortened.
posted by the Real Dan at 10:55 PM on December 17, 2010


Ice Cream for Crow (YT)
I am watching this, laughing with tears in my eyes.
Goodbye Don.
posted by dougzilla at 11:10 PM on December 17, 2010


.

Son of Mirror Man -- Mere Man. Thanks, Captain.
posted by Mister Bijou at 11:18 PM on December 17, 2010


.

bye Don.
posted by gcbv at 11:21 PM on December 17, 2010


Damn, I haven't listened to him in years and I just started listening to Shiny Beast last week.. Good guy, sorry to see him die.
posted by rainy at 11:24 PM on December 17, 2010


.
posted by The Mouthchew at 12:51 AM on December 18, 2010


.
posted by Chichibio at 3:06 AM on December 18, 2010


.
posted by El Brendano at 3:29 AM on December 18, 2010


I will break my fast with carrots and milk now. As close and as safe as it gets.

.
posted by ersatz at 4:02 AM on December 18, 2010


He didn't pussyfoot around.
posted by joetrip at 4:28 AM on December 18, 2010


.
posted by HandfulOfDust at 6:26 AM on December 18, 2010


Also a tinned teardrop.
posted by barrett caulk at 6:33 AM on December 18, 2010


.
posted by eclectist at 6:34 AM on December 18, 2010


o.0

Sure 'Nuff and RIP...
posted by schyler523 at 6:55 AM on December 18, 2010


The following tone is a reference tone, recorded at our operating level.

.
posted by jfuller at 7:09 AM on December 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


"My smile is stuck. I cannot go back t'yer frownland." Thank you, Captain. You will be missed, but refuse to be sad; your music brought too much joy to the world (even when the world wasn't aware of it).
posted by KingEdRa at 7:30 AM on December 18, 2010


click clack

.
posted by adamvasco at 7:36 AM on December 18, 2010


When I get lonesome the wind begin t' moan
When I trip fallin' ditch
Somebody wanna' throw the dirt right down
When I feel like dyin' the sun come out
'n stole m' fear 'n gone
Who's afraid of the spirit with the bluesferbones
Who's afraid of the fallin' ditch
Fallin' ditch ain't gonna get my bones
How's that for the spirit
How's that for the things
Ain't my fault the thing's gone wrong
'n when I'm smilin' my face wrinkles up real warm
'n when um frownin' things just turn t' stone
Fallin' ditch ain't gonna get my bones
'n when I get lonesome the wind begin t' moan
Fallin' ditch ain't gonna get my bones

.
posted by cybrcamper at 8:15 AM on December 18, 2010


.
posted by 2ghouls at 8:28 AM on December 18, 2010


But then it got to Zappa not returning phone calls about the promised master tapes he was withholding, and refusing to acknowledge him when he was confronted about it in person.

You know, this may sound cold, but it really doesn't matter to me. I am not personally acquainted with either of them. All I was commenting on was the fact that their friendship and working relationship helped me find Captain Beefheart through Frank Zappa. Yes, as Herodios mentioned, they went to high school together. While I didn't know either Zappa nor Don Van Vliet, I did get to meet Ray White a few years ago. The impression I get about Zappa is that he had a big ego like a lot of musicians, he was very demanding as an employer and he wasn't universally loved by all his former bandmates for reasons related to that, but that he really didn't seem to have a lot of enemies, because he wasn't trying to screw people over who worked with him. Most of the people who played for him still had a great deal of respect and affection for him and were in personal contact with the family for years.

As for the rest .... It would have been disappointing if Ray White had said anything to the effect that Zappa was a real dick, but that never came up. I have worked with many musicians over the years. I chalk this up to a personal thing that came up between friends, and I'm not really involved and can't make judgments about it. Seems to me they had some issues that didn't totally get resolved. I do admit to being a serious music geek and totally get into all the minutiae of my favorite artists, but .... rock bands are fraught with melodrama and infantile behavior, and it's not worth the time and energy getting caught up in it. I have personal friends who musicians and are involved with way more drama, and I can't bother getting caught up in it anymore, because the music is much more interesting.
posted by krinklyfig at 8:49 AM on December 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


Sorry Herodios and krinklyfig, I didn't mean to go there. Gary Lucas gives a slide-show, memoir, lecture-demonstration about his time with Van Vliet, and he represents that both of these guys have left a trail of emotionally exhausted people that don't want further contact, but treasure the experiences they had.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:05 AM on December 18, 2010


Back to the great artistry, Van Vliet's poetry can sit in your head for years or decades until you suddenly get it. "The moon was uh drip on a dark hood." Decades after hearing that, I found myself driving a dark car on a country road during a full moon. The way the white dot reflected off the shiny hood of the car, and the way it moved along the surface, did look like a white droplet dripping down the contour. A little bell went off just then, giving me delayed satisfaction.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:16 AM on December 18, 2010 [3 favorites]


.
posted by cmdnc0 at 12:47 PM on December 18, 2010


After much travail, I have located the source of my 'paper punch' reference. OK, so it was rose bushes and not a potted plant. Enjoy.
. . . "It's been said that you started sculpting when you were four years old."

"Oh, before that: when I was three. But," he emphasized, "I was whistling when I was probably two. I had a mockingbird friend when I used to lie in my bassinet in my grandfather's back yard -- he had a lot of foliage out there. He grew roses, fantastic roses."

After a digression about his grandfather's career as a riverboat gambler and the gardens he'd had in New Orleans, the captain mentioned that he'd been given a paper punch for his fifth birthday. Non-plussed, I thought, 'What the hell does that have to do with rose gardens?' Oh, no.

"You didn't punch the. . . "


"Every one of the leaves, perfectly," he said, rather proudly, "on every rosebush in the yard. I thought it was so nice the way the sun shone through the holes in the leaves; and the shadows, the little green dots they'd create on the grass. Of course, I got caught. I came into the house all covered with green pulp.

"I've never grown up. I've refused. But I feel real abused, you know what I mean?"

[. . . ]

"How do you stand in relation to the rest of the universe?"

"An artist is one who kids himself the most gracefully.
That's all I've ever been able to come up with."

posted by Herodios at 7:19 PM on December 18, 2010 [2 favorites]


"It's been said that you started sculpting when you were four years old."

As a youngster he would go to the zoo and sit in front of an animal and sculpt it. He was spotted by some semi-well known painter, who then arranged for him to have a segment on a local children's public television show. He would sculpt one animal per show. Too bad there are no recordings of that.
posted by StickyCarpet at 9:47 PM on December 18, 2010


Here is the 1997 BBC documentary narrated by John Peel.
1; 2; 3; 4; 5; 6.
posted by adamvasco at 2:02 AM on December 19, 2010


Wow, someone just bought the Trout House at the end of last month. I spent a few hours of my teenage life driving along Ensenada looking for that place.
posted by little light-giver at 1:29 PM on December 19, 2010


http://www.thedailyswarm.com/swarm/teenage-days-captain-beefheart-peter-gordon-remembers-don-vliet/
posted by anazgnos at 9:37 AM on December 20, 2010 [1 favorite]


. for real
posted by bovious at 1:21 PM on December 20, 2010


Can't believe I missed this. Sad.

.
posted by Splunge at 2:49 PM on December 20, 2010


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