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The legendary Captain Beefheart, aka Don Van Vliet, passed away today in his California home at the age of 69 as a result of complications stemming from multiple sclerosis, which he had been suffering from since the early 1990s.
Best known for his work with The Magic Band and Frank Zappa, Vliet was the experimental rock visionary behind the 1969 avant garde masterpiece, Trout Mask Replica—widely considered to be Beefheart’s best musical work.
The Michael Werner Gallery, a representative agency for Beefheart’s paintings, announced his death today via an official statement:
“Don Van Vliet was a complex and influential figure in the visual and performing arts,” the gallery said in a statement. He is perhaps best known as the incomparable Captain Beefheart who, together with his Magic Band, rose to prominence in the 1960s with a totally unique style of blues-inspired, experimental rock & roll. This would ultimately secure Van Vliet’s place in music history as one of the most original recording artists of his time. After two decades in the spotlight as an avant-garde composer and performer, Van Vliet retired from performing to devote himself wholeheartedly to painting and drawing. Like his music, Van Vliet’s lush paintings are the product of a truly rare and unique vision.”
Vliet is survived by his wife of more than 40 years, Jan.