The growl, the rasp, the Dada-esque lyrics, the music that ping-ponged between primal blues and the wildest experimental jazz is an admittedly weak description of the sonic assault of Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band. And now the voice and creative genius is forever silent, at the age of 69. If Jim Morrison was rock’s self-proclaimed Rimbaud, Don Van Vliet (Beefheart’s alter ego) was its Artaud, Gide, Mallarme, and W.C. Fields
. Add a dash of Howlin’ Wolf and psychedelicize some Robert Johnson, a penchant for absurd yet somehow astonishing wordplay, and a host of brilliant musicians playing brilliantly and you might just skim the iceberg of the wonderment of the music created by Beefheart. He was much, much more than a footnote in Frank Zappa’s obituary — a true artistic visionary, often difficult, but always worthwhile. RIP, Captain.