Don Van Vliet (born January 15, 1941 in Glendale, California), is a musician, best known under his stage name Captain Beefheart. He is principally associated with the rock genre, but his music is idiosyncratic and diverse to such an extent that it largely defies classification. Much of his work was conducted with an assembly of musicians called the "Magic Band".
Vliet collaborated with Frank Zappa who was a schoolfriend, although this relationship was subject to peaks and troughs. Their collaborative work can be found on the 1975 album "Bongo Fury", along with Zappa rarity collections "The Lost Episodes" and "Mystery Disc".
Beefheart's work as leader of The Magic Band range from the avant-garde, experimental "Trout Mask Replica" (1970) to the much more mainstream funk- and blues- inflected albums of the mid-seventies, "Clear Spot" and "The Spotlight Kid." Beefheart retired from music somewhat embittered with his experiences in the industry soon after the release of "Ice Cream for Crow" in 1982.
In recent years, Vliet has become somewhat reclusive and abandoned music for painting. His artwork is as extreme and innovative as was his music. He currently lives in Northern California coast, and is believed to be suffering from multiple sclerosis.