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Captain Beefheart: The Biography [NOOK Book]

Overview

The unclassifiable music of Don Van Vliet—alias Captain Beefheart—and his departure from performing in the 80s have mystified fans and followers for years, and kept the rumor mills busy. Mike Barnes' Captain Beefheart: The Biography puts those rumors to rest as it tells the strange but true tale of a musical genius and his otherworldly odyssey from the California desert to stages and studios across the world. Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band arrived in the public consciousness in 1969 with the two-album set ...

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Captain Beefheart: The Biography

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Overview

The unclassifiable music of Don Van Vliet—alias Captain Beefheart—and his departure from performing in the 80s have mystified fans and followers for years, and kept the rumor mills busy. Mike Barnes' Captain Beefheart: The Biography puts those rumors to rest as it tells the strange but true tale of a musical genius and his otherworldly odyssey from the California desert to stages and studios across the world. Captain Beefheart and his Magic Band arrived in the public consciousness in 1969 with the two-album set Trout Mask Replica, eventually praised by Rolling Stone as one of the best records of all time. Distilling a new audio experience from blues, psychedelic rock, and free jazz, the Captain and his band went on to confound journalists, intrigue reviewers, and amaze listeners with a decade and a half of albums and performances. Yet after recording his final album Ice Cream for Crow in 1982, Beefheart left music to begin a successful career as an internationally exhibited painter. His reluctance to give interviews has only enhanced the Captain Beefheart mystique. For his thoroughly researched biography of Beefheart, journalist Mike Barnes interviewed friends, acolytes, and members of the Magic Band to get the full story of Beefheart's collaborations and conflicts with kindred spirit Frank Zappa, his 're-education' of the members of the Magic Band, and the legal battles that kept the album Bat Chain Puller from ever being released. Barnes' biography illuminates the enigmatic artist, and brings the reader to an understanding of his creative drive. Previously published only in the U. K., the U. S. edition of Captain Beefheart: The Biography contains new material and new photographs.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Captain Beefheart was the musical persona of Don Van Vliet, the avant-garde 1960s and '70s musician (best known for the 1969 hit record Trout Mask Replica) whose inimitable psychedelic rock influenced such diverse groups as the Clash, Pulp and Sonic Youth before he abruptly ended his music career in 1982 to become a painter and notorious recluse. Barnes, a drummer and music journalist, concentrates on Van Vliet's creative life, tracing his unusual career trajectory from his childhood as a local art prodigy to his role in the '60s avant-garde California rock scene and his collaborations with Frank Zappa, Ornette Coleman and a young Ry Cooder. Barnes also includes a cursory discussion of Van Vliet's painting career. The book was written without Van Vliet's cooperation, so Barnes had to rely on previously published statements and secondary sources. He's careful not to take liberties with his subject's inner life, but while this conscientiousness is admirable, it also makes the story rather leaden. Lacking a thesis, Barnes recounts detailed episodes and long lists of events in Van Vliet's life. These give glimpses of an obsessive, paranoid, humorous artist, but never quite bring Van Vliet to life. The book reads like the work of a passionate, well-informed fan, but not necessarily that of an astute biographer. Photos. (Jan.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Library Journal
"You combine Truman Capote and Thelonious Monk and put them into rock'n'roll and you get Captain Beefheart." That is fellow musician Gary Marker's fitting description of Don Van Vliet (a.k.a. Captain Beefheart), one of the few truly original figures in pop music history. Under the tutelage of boyhood friend Frank Zappa, Beefheart and the Magic Band created a wholly unique way of composing and playing music. Here, British music writer Barnes reconstructs and explains the Captain's creative process, especially during the making of his masterwork, Trout Mask Replica, deftly balancing insightful critical analysis with biography. Part of the last chapter covers Van Vliet's more lucrative career as a painter (he retired from music in 1982). The book is strengthened by a list of Van Vliet's art exhibitions and an in-depth discography. However, none of the photos shows album covers, which Barnes spends a fair amount of time discussing. A more critical analysis of Van Vliet's art is William Bamberger's Riding Some Kind of Unusual Skull Sleigh (Alap Editions, 1999), and fans will find an insider's account in Lunar Notes (S.A.F., 1998) by former Magic Band member Bill Harkleroad. Recommended for larger pop music collections. Lloyd Jansen, Stockton-San Joaquin Cty. P.L., CA Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Mojo
Perceptive, informed, and passionate…. This book goes beyond questions of authorship to provide a rich and amusing insight into the band.
Entertainment Weekly
A finely wrought portrait of a bizarro rock star... . It’s a real delight to at last read a thoroughly researched bio on the quintessential maverick.
Rain Taxi
In showing how the former Zappa-associate and renowed recluse lives with his wife in the California hills pursuing a successful painting career despite reported health problems, Barnes makes clear that Van Vliet was always a serious artist, even if the constraints of the music business sometimes obscured that fact. All the more reason to congratulate this English rock journalist for his portrait of the artist as a young Beefheart—-and to excuse the sexagenarian Van Vliet for apparently still having beef with the music business.
MOJO
Perceptive, informed, and passionate…. This book goes beyond questions of authorship to provide a rich and amusing insight into the band.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780857122346
  • Publisher: Music Sales Corporation
  • Publication date: 7/4/2010
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Sales rank: 1,150,491
  • File size: 4 MB

Meet the Author

Mike Barnes is a drummer and a journalist. He writes regularly for Mojo, Select and The Wire. He lives in England.

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2013

    A great fun read about one of musics most idiosyncratic personal

    A great fun read about one of musics most idiosyncratic personalities. 

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