DEAD: ON THIS DATE
Don Van Vliet (born Don Glen Vliet;January 15, 1941 – December 17, 2010), best known by the stage name Captain Beefheart, was an American singer, songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and visual artist. Sometimes collaborating with his teenage friend Frank Zappa, Van Vliet’s musical work was conducted with a rotating ensemble of musicians called the Magic Band, with whom he recorded 13 studio albums between 1964 and 1982. His music blended elements of blues, free jazz, rock, avant-garde composition, idiosyncratic rhythms, and surrealist wordplay with his wide vocal range, commonly reported as five octaves. Known for his enigmatic persona, Beefheart frequently constructed myths about his life and was known to exercise an almost dictatorial control over his supporting musicians.
DEATH: Van Vliet died at a hospital in Arcata, California, on Friday, December 17, 2010, about a month before his 70th birthday. The cause was named as complications from multiple sclerosis. Tom Waits and Kathleen Brennan commented on his death, praising him: “Wondrous, secret … and profound, he was a diviner of the highest order.”