Captain Beefheart Dies

Don Van Vliet, known to a generation of music fans as Captain Beefheart, died Dec. 17 in California after reportedly battling multiple sclerosis for the last 20 years.

His collaboration with Frank Zappa produced 1969’s acclaimed Trout Mask Replica, his best-known work.

Van Vliet hadn’t released a record since 1982 but was also a well-regarded visual artist, represented by the Michael Werner Gallery that confirmed his death.

“Don Van Vliet was a complex and influential figure in the visual and performing arts,” according to a gallery 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.”

He leaves a wife, Jan, of more than 40 years.