Don Van Vliet, the man better known as Captain Beefheart, died yesterday from complications related to multiple sclerosis; he was 69. Beefheart—who once said his name came from the fact that he had “a beef in my heart against this society"—influenced a long line of musicians from Tom Waits to the White Stripes, and had high-profile associations in his day: Writing for the Hollywood Reporter, Mitch Myers notes that he released a dozen albums between 1967 and 1982, including the "famously confounding and highly influential double LP" Trout Mask Replica, which Frank Zappa—a long-time friend who Beefheart had a love/hate relationship with—produced.
The "rough, autocratic frontman" was a "savvy mythmaker who continually exaggerated and distorted odd facts about his life," writes Myers. But his "distinctive blend of careening delta blues, avant-garde jazzisms, and polyrhythmic rock was like no other," pushing him to the forefront of the psychedelic California music underground of the '60s and '70s. And while not a commercial success, he leaves behind "an amazing body of work." Click to watch videos of Captain Beefheart.