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Don Van Vliet, an artist of protean creativity who was known as Captain Beefheart during his days as an influential rock musician and who later led a reclusive life as a painter, died Friday. He was 69 and lived in Trinidad, Calif.
The cause was complications of multiple sclerosis, said Gordon VeneKlasen, a partner at the Michael Werner gallery in New York, where Mr. Van Vliet had shown his art, many of them abstract, colorful oils, since 1985. The gallery said he died in a hospital in Northern California. Captain Beefheart’s music career stretched from 1966 to 1982, and from straight rhythm and blues by way of the early Rolling Stones to music that sounded like a strange uncle of post-punk. He is probably best known for “Trout Mask Replica,” a double album from 1969 with his Magic Band.
But “Ice Cream for Crow” was his last record; in 1982 he quit music to focus on his painting and moved to Trinidad, near the Oregon border, with his wife, Jan, who is his only survivor.
In the exhibition catalog to a show at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, the museum director, John Lane, wrote of Mr. Van Vliet’s work, “His paintings — most frequently indeterminate landscapes populated by forms of abstracted animals — are intended to effect psychological, spiritual and magical force.”
Some of the images were a continuation of his songwriting concerns, especially those involving animals. A lot of his work dwells on the beauty of animals, on animals acting like humans and even on humans turning into animals. Mr. Van Vliet had rarely been seen since the early 1990s and seldom at his gallery openings.
“I don’t like getting out when I could be painting,” he told The Associated Press in 1991. “And when I’m painting, I don’t want anybody else around.”
****As a fan of Frank Zappa, I first heard Captain Beefheart on Bongo Fury and was just blown away by his unusual vocals. He would also appear on the old Letterman show back on NBC and was just as strange an interview as one would imagine.*****
Debra Kadabra – Captain Beefheart, Frank Zappa & the Mothers
Say she's a witch
Ain't that a ****?
Debra Kadabra -Haw, that's rich!
Jone, a rancho granny,
Shook her wrinkled fanny
Shoes are too tight and pointed
Ankles sorta puffin' out
Cause me to shout:
Oh Debra Algebra Ebneezra Kadabra
Witch Goddess of Lankershim Boulevard
Cover my entire body with Avon Cologna
And drive me to some relative's house in East L.A.
(Just till my skin clears up)
Turn it to Channel 13
And make me watch the rubber tongue
When it comes out
Of the puffed & flabulent Mexican rubber-goods mask
Next time they show the Brnokka
Make me buy The Flosser
Make me grow braniac fingers
(But with more hair)
Make me kiss your turquoise jewelry
Rub the hot front part of my head
With rented unguents
Give me bas relief!
Cast your dancing spell my way
I promise to go under it
Learn the Pachuco Hop
And let me twirl ya
Oh Debra Fauntleroy Magnesium Kadabra!
Take me with you …
Don't you want any a these?
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