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. He was 69.
His collaboration with Frank Zappa produced 1969’s acclaimed Trout Mask Replica, his best-known work.
Van Vliet, who took on the Beefheart personality in 1964, spent his teen years in Lancaster, Calif., where he met up with Zappa. Van Vliet and the Magic Band eventually signed with Zappa’s Straight Records in the late ‘60s. Van Vliet also toured as Zappa’s vocalist in the mid-1970s.
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.