The magic of Captain Beefheart

Do you have a favourite Captain Beefheart quote?
Mike: My favourites are:
“It’s not worth getting into the bullshit to see what the bull ate” and
“a psychiatrist is someone who wants to die in your past life”.
FTF: My own favourite quote is: “A carrot is as close as a rabbit gets to a diamond.”

Trout Mask Replica was released on Zappa’s straight record label. He toured as part of the Mothers of Invention band several times, but Beefheart was suspicious of Zappa’s commercial mentality and they had a love/hate relationship. He famously called Zappa: “The guy who looks like a fly’s leg”.

(Pic – Don Van Vliet, Last Of A Dying Breed, 1982)

FTF: Don Van Vliet would refer to his art in musical terms and was a prolific painter and would sketch in notepads and on napkins wherever he was. Although his later records are brimming with creativity when disillusionment and illness struck, he withdrew from the limelight and began to focus solely on his painting. He held several critically acclaimed exhibitions and was a respected artist in the art world. Unfortunately as time passed his health deteriorated from multiple sclerosis to a level where he could no longer paint.

Don Van Vliet passed away at his home in California On Dec 18th 2010, after suffering from MS for many years. Despite critical acclaim and his cult hero status he earned very little money from his music and lived much of his life hand to mouth or ‘chasing a buck’. One of the few people still in contact with him was PJ Harvey who had been a fan since an early age.

Now after his death there is a chance he may get credit (both musically and artistically) for his endeavors. As that can also be true of many of the truly great artists of the past, hopefully Don would appreciate the irony.

We have only skimmed the surface of his life, but if you want to learn more about Don Van Vliet (aka Captain Beefheart), watch the documentary (part 1 below), read Mike’s brilliant book and look out for a huge Beefheart feature from Mike in Mojo magazine.

And remember this, straight from the (Beef)heart…
“The stars are matter, We’re matter, But it doesn’t matter.”

Further Beefheart viewing and books
Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5, Part 6
Mike Barnes’s Beefheart book on Amazon.
John French’s Beefheart book on Amazon.
Touching tribute to Beefheart from John French

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