Me and mine were all saddened last week with the news of the passing of one of the true great originals of American popular music -
The man who was born into this world as Don Van Vliet died on December 17th from complications resulting from his long battle with MS.
Vliet’s music combined an elemental distillation of American Blues with the psychedelic sensibilities of the ’60′s and a fervor for avant garde composition. The result was captivating, invigorating and infuriating at turns – and sometimes all at once. Along with various incarnations of his Magic Band, the Captain cut a path that few have followed, though many – including Tom Waits – owe large debts to his influence. For the last several decades the Captain hung up his harmonica to concentrate on visual art, becoming a respected abstract painter.
Having sifted through a number of eulogies and tributes, here are some of the best memento mori we could find:
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head;
It is some dream that on the deck,
You’ve fallen cold and dead.
- Oh Captain! My Captain! by Walt Whitman
Read this 1970 cover story about our hero. This one comes from the Rolling Stone archives.
Rolling Stone also put together a lovely gallery of images of the Captain and his Magic Band.
See numerous galleries of Don’s paintings at this website.
Watch this BBC documentary - The Artist Formerly Known as Captain Beefheart - courtesy of our YouTube Channel.
Joe Nolan <3