Let me start by saying that I really hate writing these pieces. I hate to post a blog that starts with the title “Death of a Legend,” because it means that my day is probably ruined with the sad news of the death of one of my heroes. Today, it means just that.
On December 17th, the man known as Captain Beefheart lost his long struggle with multiple sclerosis. Best known for his albums Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller), Safe as Milk, and my personal favorite Trout Mask Replica, Beefheart gained notoriety for being verbally and physically abusive to his band mates. In 1982, he claimed to have become “too good at the horn,” abandoned music, became a recluse, and painted for the rest of his days. Those who knew him personally claim that he was a selfish, abusive, terrible man who took credit for the hard work that he bullied his band mates into doing.
So, why should we celebrate his life?
Well, I’m not one to say that the ends justify the means, because that is simply not true. However, regardless of his methods, the Captain was able to harness lots of great and interesting music from those around him. He presented strange new ideas with every album. His music and artwork are something strange for everyone to enjoy, so I present you with little video. The image is just a still of Beefheart’s Trout Mask Replica, and the audio is the track “Ant Man Bee,” a great example of Captain Beefheart’s early works.
“I was able to turn myself inside out, and that’s all I wanted to do.”
– Captain Beefheart