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Captain Beefheart: Another fairy story, of how once upon a time 1940s child TV star Don Van Vliet, from California, dreamed of stardom, became international avant-garde rock star Captain Beefheart and later spent his days eccentrically painting pictures in the Mojave Desert.
It started, for young Van Vliet, with a fantasy called Captain Beefheart Meets The Grunt People. He went to school in Lancaster, California, United States, where he became buddies with Frank Zappa, later moving to Cucamonga to make Beefheart into a film and further aid and abet Zappa. The two worked on the movie scenario, formed a band called The Blackouts and planned another group called The Soots.
Some aficionados maintain Van Vliet first thought of the script, while other fans claim that it was Zappa who came up with the title. Both sides are wrong in one respect: a similar Captain Beefheart had existed as a storybook familiar for a century. Yet both are fundamentally correct: Van Vliet reinvented the character, while there is no doubt that Zappa was soon applying it to him. He said Van Vliet had a "beef in his heart" against convention and the world.
The name was outrageous for a rock artist in the early 1960s, and the critics loved him, perhaps as much as Zappa himself. Beefheart was backed by ever-changing Magic Band members whom he rapidly rechristened such ridiculous things as Zoot Horn Rollo, The Winged Eel Fingerling, Antennae Johnny, The Mascara Snake, Rockette Morton and Orejon: "it means 'Big Ear'," he explained enigmatically of the last.
Inspired: Dali's Car, the Zutons.
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