Tom Waits and Matt Groening pay tribute to Captain Beefheart

Waits compares Don Van Vliet to Sun Ra and Miles Davis

Tom Waits and The Simpsons creator Matt Groening have both paid tribute to Captain Beefheart, who passed away on December 17.

Waits hailed Captain Beefheart, real name Don Van Vliet, by comparing him to Miles Davis and Sun Ra, reports the LA Times.

“He was like the scout on a wagon train,” Waits wrote. “He was the one who goes ahead and shows the way. He was a demanding bandleader, a transcendental composer (with emphasis on the dental), up there with Ornette [Coleman], Sun Ra and Miles [Davis].


Groening, who enlisted Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band to play the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival he curated in 2003 in California, also spoke of the influence Vliet has had on him.

“Back in my formative years, my buddies and I were looking for the furthest limits in pop music,” Groening explained. “We loved avant-garde jazz, and we loved the blues, and Captain Beefheart melded them in a way that no one else has ever done, with the vocal techniques of Howlin’ Wolf on top of these crazy, angular songs.”

See for their full tributes.

Other acts to pay tribute to Captain Beefheart include Franz Ferdinand, Zola Jesus and Klaxons.

Photo gallery – Captain Beefheart remembered

Captain Beefheart RIP – share your memories