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Avant-garde rocker Don Van Vliet, who performed under the moniker Captain Beefheart, died today at age 69, due to complications from multiple sclerosis in a hospital in Northern California.
Van Vliet, who released the legendary double album Trout Mask Replica in 1969, was a great influence on outside-of-the-box artists like filmmaker David Lynch and Tom Waits. Frank Zappa, who attended high school with Van Vliet, signed him to his label Straight Records, and produced Trout Mask Replica, which bowed at #58 on Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums list. His last studio album was 1982’s influential Ice Cream For Crow. Van Vliet was also an accomplished painter, and spent much of the last two decades in seclusion, working on his art.