R.I.P. Captain Beefheart, Creator of the Greatest Driving Album of All Time

Murilee Martin
by Murilee Martin
i p captain beefheart creator of the greatest driving album of all time

Back when I was doing the Los Angeles-San Francisco round-trip in various heaps, beaters, clunkers, and jalopies at least twice a month, I wore out several cassettes of Captain Beefheart’s masterpiece, Trout Mask Replica. No other album seemed quite so perfectly suited for that stretch of Interstate 5. Now Mr. Vliet is gone, forever.

Join the conversation
4 of 19 comments
  • Alwaysinthecar Alwaysinthecar on Dec 19, 2010

    I knew Don in LA. He was "the guy from Lancaster and Zappa's buddy." I heard many years ago that he wasn't well and that he possibly had MS. The man was a huge inspiration for many, many currently successful musicians. He was also a painter and sketch artist. RIP Don Van Vliet.

  • Jerseydevil Jerseydevil on Dec 19, 2010

    i never got this guy, even back in my drug addled youth. Now, listening to these two pieces, I still dont get him.

  • Ciddyguy Ciddyguy on Dec 19, 2010

    Oh the shame, I know we ALL gotta go sometime but man, he was a genius in his own way. I was fortunate to have been exposed to his work, along with the Velvet Underground and Frank Zappa back in 1984-85 when I was working at Domino's Pizza as a delivery driver while in my very early adult hood years (18-20) and our day manager, Alan, whom was in his mid 20's introduced me to them and to a minor extent, Husker Du, Die Krutzen and Black Flag but it was Zappa, Beefheart and VU that piqued my interest, later I discovered Tom Waits (thanks to my best friend) in the early 90's. I want to get more of CB's work, I have his first album, Safe as Milk on CD and a 10" EP on vinyl that is a collection of songs, mostly from Milk that was released in the mid 80's and it was that album that introduced me well to Zig, Zag Wanderer and Autumn's Child and my fav, Yellow Brick Road. I DO, however, have 2-3 of Zappa's early LP's on vinyl, Wiesels Ripped my Flesh, Hot Rats and his 1988 Barking Pumpkin release, Zappa Meets the Mothers of Prevention where he does mostly Jazz stuff, good LP too and I have Lumpy Gravy, We're Only In it for the Money on a 2 for one early CD release and a later Rykodisc release of the remastered, Freak Out, Zappa's first album and have 3 Velvet Underground albums as well, a beat, but original VU and Nico on Verve and 2 80's reissues of Loaded and Live 1969. May Don Van Vliet rest in peace. As for music on the long drives, mix CD's I made, especially my Freeform series as it was largely inspired by the old freeform FM days, and when my favorite radio station back in the early 90's used to do a freeform Friday's thing where listeners called in between 10-2 and that became the playlist and it varied greatly from week to week, mixing of old and new stuff and that became 6 volumes of CD's after conversion to CD from cassette (from scratch, natch). However, there ARE some albums that do fine on the road, such as Cheryl Crow's first LP, Tuesday Night Music Club is a good one to play, just for starters, but in the end, it is my mood, the weather etc that determines what I decide to spin. :-)

  • Mike C. Mike C. on Dec 19, 2010

    Weasels has some outstanding cuts mixed in with the experimental. Hot Rats is certainly a classic. Money is also great but the re-mix is horrible- Although more in the 'strictly commercial' vein, Overnight Sensation, Apostrophe, One Size Fits All and Zoot Allures are very entertaining albums.