Captain Beefheart

Not in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

Eligible since: 1991 (The 1992 Induction Ceremony)

Previously Considered? Yes  what's this?

Inducted into Rock Hall Projected in 2030 (ranked #298) .

Essential Albums (?)WikipediaAmazon MP3Amazon CD
Safe As Milk (1967)
Trout Mask Replica (1969)

Essential Songs (?)WikipediaAmazon MP3YouTube
Sure 'Nuff' 'n Yes I Do (1967)

Captain Beefheart @ Wikipedia

Captain Beefheart Videos

Will Captain Beefheart be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?
"Musical excellence is the essential qualification for induction."


46 comments so far (post your own)

Captain Beefheart belongs in the hall of fame.
He was a huge influence, especially to people like Tom Waits.

Posted by Ray Rogers on Sunday, 02.4.07 @ 18:24pm

If Zappa's in, Captain Beefheart should definitely be in. Major influence in new wave and punk, not to mention experimental rock.

Posted by mel on Tuesday, 02.5.08 @ 09:09am

Not surprised to see that they've at least been considered. If any modern-musicians get to be considered "innovative", Captain Beefheart is one of them.

Posted by Liam on Tuesday, 02.5.08 @ 09:30am

More influential than, say, Bono, Madonna, Springsteen, or Aeroshit?

Um, YES! There's no telling how much longer he'll be among us; the Hall of Fame needs to right the wrong they committed by waiting till Frank was dead to induct him.

Moreover, what about the Mothers of Invention as an entity separate from Zappa?

Posted by Alex on Tuesday, 03.4.08 @ 18:23pm

They definitely need to induct him sooner, rather than later. I wouldn't be surprised, knowing the good captain, if they asked him years ago and he declined. I believe he's been camera-averse for a while now.

Who would introduce him? Waits? Frank Black? The White Stripes? I would love to see Frank Black and Waits covering one of his songs.

Posted by Harold on Tuesday, 03.11.08 @ 11:10am

What shame he hasn’t been inducted yet. He was a huge influence on alternative, new wave and punk. He is now 67 and in ill health and I just hope somebody gets some sense before he passes away. Captain Beefheart in 2009!!!

Posted by on Monday, 04.14.08 @ 13:48pm

You know, I read how incalculable Capt Beefheart's influence on many musicians is, and after obtaining his "opus magnum" - 69's Trout Mask Replica, I must say that he is one artist who stands ONLY upon this influence, vast and powerful as I read it to be.

Trout Mask Replica has to be one of the worst things I have ever heard. Honest to God.
What --- The --- Fukk?
This is a "masterpiece"?

Truly bizarre. I don't get it. No matter how open minded I am, this just sounds like the epitome of drug addled masturbatory narcisistic nonsense.
And I was very ready to be fascinated, or at least educated on an icon.

Tom Waits obviously was influenced by Beefheart... but I LOVE Tom Waits music. "Raindogs" is one of my all time favorite albums. "9th and Hennepin" is a spoken word lyrical poem by Waits, but instead of being deliberately Charles Manson-like unintelligable beat-poet garbage about squids playing with doughballs in polyethelene bags, it's a beautifully insightful and delicate observation about the dirty life a character observes: "I see it all...through the yellow windows of the evening train".

Jesus, what is all that sea shanty stoned Popeye crap of Beefheart's every 6th song that pops up?
Bad jazz fusion, choppy, ragged instrumentation and acid trip lyrics? I know Zappa was strange to and he is a mythical figure, but - wtf?

As I say, I have to take it from the obvious documentation of Beefheart's wide, wide influence that he is a hero of some kind. But influence is his only claim, as far as I am concerned, beccasue musically he is beyond the pale of "challenging" and lost in the land of totally inaccesable experimental rock.

Sorry.... I tried.

Posted by shawn on Friday, 05.9.08 @ 12:40pm

Free jazz meets electric blues, baby. Innovation defined. I quite like it too.

It's not everyones cup of mocha, ofcourse (hardly anyone's, even). "Open mind," in this instance, means about 15 miles. Alot of the "songs" actually have guitars playing two hugely different lines, so obviously many people find that off-putting.

Try Prayers on Fire and/or Junkyard by The Birthday Party (Nick Cave's old). They also had very jagged, sparring guitar lines, except they're more listenable. I'll save my description for The Birthday Party's main page...

Posted by Liam on Friday, 05.9.08 @ 12:54pm

"Free jazz meets electric blues, baby."

Even a numbers than can be identified as blues "China Pig" is just a standard blues jog by a guy who knows enough to play it accompanied by snuffling sounds (like a pig?), hoots and train sounds and, of course, gibberish lyrics about him "putting down his pork" and recalling his China Pig. Mmm-hmm; genius.

"Hair-Pie Bake 1" isn't even a "song".... it's instruments noodling arbitararily in a room, then comes him speaking in a bizarrely recorded conversation outdoors with two people.... WTF???!!!!

"Neon Meat Dream of a Octofish" is nothing but a stream of spontaneous stupid nonsensical Dr. Suess hallucinations - and that's being generous. Sometimes it's just nouns and adjectives: "..meat rose and hairs, meaty..dream..wet....meat..mucus mules...clock.trot.." and on and on while 2 squalling, mistuned guitars cavort in the background like dizzy drunks banging into one another.
"Dachau Blues" sounds like a Cheech and Chong routine (remeber Blind Melon Chitlin?).

OK - that's enough. I see, I see, I see how many artists cite him as a powerful influence, so there he is. I just doubt that I will ever listen to it again. I heard it, and that's it.

Perhaps I will try one of his last 3 albums that I read are considered very good.

Posted by shawn on Friday, 05.9.08 @ 13:28pm

If the marriage of "free jazz" and "electric blues" is your definition of innovation, then the honor goes to Traffic who beat the Captain by a year or two with "Mr. Fantasy" and "Traffic." These are also much more palatable.

Posted by classicrocker on Friday, 05.9.08 @ 13:35pm

Scaruffi thinks Trout Mask Replica is the greatest album of all-time.

Posted by Al on Friday, 05.9.08 @ 13:41pm

Seriously, the innovation is there. Can you not hear the mixture of free jazz and blues? It IS there.

I can assure you that you'll at least get the urge to give it another listen - it's too fascinating not to. Try getting each ear to listen to the separate guitar lines (on headphones); it helps.

And again, many people enjoy this "drug addled masturbatory narcisistic nonsense," including myself. I'm not going to throw a sh*tfit because you can't appreciate the album, because too many people don't get it for the effort to be worth it.

Safe As Milk is much, much more pop-orientated than TMR, and I think you'll enjoy at least a few tracks on it.

Posted by Liam on Friday, 05.9.08 @ 13:42pm

There's also a heap of avant-garde in there form the innovation, but I didn't feel the need to point that out. You could even argue that there ae bits of classical music, but I forgot about that one.

Seriously, though, as far as innovation goes, Trout Mask Replica is in a league of its own.

Posted by Liam on Friday, 05.9.08 @ 13:46pm

"Seriously, though, as far as innovation goes, Trout Mask Replica is in a league of its own."

You know, that's fine. Whatever. I'm not a musician so maybe my mind is ill equipped to decipher the genius of Trout Mask Replica.
I realize that I am posing my bewilderment in the face of many, mnay cited influencess, and I want to state that I am not setting out to be a piss-ant iconoclast in expressing this about Beefheart.

But your statement about Trout being this paragon of innovation (and the embarrassment I ought have about not being able to decode it or appreciate it) goes straight to a point I have made before about the limits of the value put upon "Innovation".

I'm sorry, but Trout is musically, to me, ridiculous. It sounds like a hot mess. It sounds just like a rambling, sloppy, fukkin around with the guitars, no point, mushshroom trip enhanced indulgence of absolute shit "poetry".
"Bulbous and tapered" - fukkin seriously? Isn't it possible the Emperor has no clothes and the people have bought into it?
You can "innovate" anything .... ANYTHING, but it doesn't mean it was worth the trouble? If I cook a pancreas and rock stew, that's fukking innovative as hell; maybe someone else, a bored and jaded and ambivalent artist will think me a culinary visionary. See the Innovation!!

*heavy sigh*
Whatever. I feel confident enough in THIS one to say Trout is a silly mess; one of the worst things I ever listened to. To try to see if I can swallow it otherwise and convince myself that it isn't awful is just too much for me.

I appreciate your graciousnes in not shitfiting me Liam, but if you need to, I hold no animosity towards you ; do as you see fit.

Posted by shawn on Friday, 05.9.08 @ 15:20pm

I guess you've just got to have to the right state of mind to enjoy it. One of the main problems I've known people to have is the lack of obvious melody.

I don't think there is any middleground as far as love/hate for the album goes; everyone I know who has listened to it either outright hates it or really loves it (with the majority being in the former).

And that's why I don't think there's any need to go into great detail as to my thoughts of the album. I actually LIKE the scattered, jumbled, almost schizophrenic 'mess' that is Trout Mask Replica. I f*cking LIKE guitars with no master; that's part of why I love The Birthday Party! I've tried to convince others before of its worth, but that was a fruitless attempt.

It's the marmite effect (not sure if you've got it over in the US): you either love it or you hate it.

Posted by Liam on Saturday, 05.10.08 @ 05:54am

I have to admit as I reflect on what I heard I laugh, it seems so ludicrous. I think you ar correct that I will go back and listen again out of sheer, incredulous curiosity over what the fukk that was (LOL).
Yea, I'd guess that most people expect some semblance of "melody" in their music; at some point noise ceases to be music and is just noise to me.
I cannot believe that Scaruffi rates it as the all time #1 rocknroll album.

Posted by shawn on Saturday, 05.10.08 @ 16:49pm

Shawn, you should try out Safe As Milk, as it's alot more accessible that Trou Mask Replica. Don't get me wrong, it's still weirdo, but it's much less fragmented.

It even has easily-discernable melodies!

Trout Mask Replica took me three full listens before I 'got' it, btw.

Posted by Liam on Monday, 05.19.08 @ 16:33pm

Gotta give an induction to the Magic Band, too.

Posted by Liam on Sunday, 08.31.08 @ 13:57pm

One of the cruel ironies of the multi-track recording era is the way that repeated listening of ANYTHING seems to create an automatic attraction to it in the same way repeatedly brushing your hair produces static electricity.
The only thing I know for sure about TMR is that serious music critics (like Scaruffi) love it way too much and absolutely ALL women hate it.
That's always the red flag for me.

Posted by Polly on Thursday, 10.2.08 @ 08:42am

The only thing I know for sure about TMR is that serious music critics (like Scaruffi) love it way too much and absolutely ALL women hate it.
That's always the red flag for me.
Posted by Polly

Zoot Horn Rollo from the Magic Band made the same comment about(most,there's a few out there)woman not liking Trout Mask.
But followup albums such as "Lick My Decals Off Baby" and "The Spotlight Kid","Clearspot".
The two cut for Mercury records "Uncondiotionally Guaranteed","Blue Jeans and Moonbeams" were more accessibile i.e. shorter,mainstream songs at times "somewhat" radio friendly,subject matter (much to his orig. fan base's disgust).

Point is Captain Beefheart has a large catalog,not only Trout Mask.
He delved into other areas,even if briefly.

John Lydon aka Johnny Rotten has often cited him as a major influence.

RRHOF worthy.

Posted by Gary James CA on Thursday, 10.2.08 @ 08:55am

To cool... another rock rule breaker..! These types of bands are what change the music...They did it their way!!

Posted by mrxyz on Friday, 11.14.08 @ 18:38pm

As said be 4 this cat write rules that others follow YES!!! Oh wait he ain't selling this year lol

Posted by mrxyz on Saturday, 12.6.08 @ 22:27pm

I'd give it to them. Gotta love "Diddy Wah Diddy" if nothing else.

Posted by Philip on Sunday, 03.22.09 @ 14:49pm

Even if Trout Mask is just incoherent and aimless rambling if you enjoy it you enjoy it and if you don't you don't. Music is subjective and these declarations of the quality of music are all irrelevant and inaccurate. However regardless of people's opinions on the music it is influential to many people and that should be enough to be inducted.

Posted by Conrad on Monday, 04.20.09 @ 10:15am

Love them ...I like musicians that do it there way..!!

Posted by mrxyz on Monday, 04.20.09 @ 11:24am

I finally got a chance to listen to "Trout Mask Replica"... And Man !!! What a fine mess it is !!! Gimme sum of that stuff they was smokin'.

Posted by Joe-Skee on Wednesday, 05.6.09 @ 16:27pm

I finally got a chance to listen to "Trout Mask Replica"... And Man !!! What a fine mess it is !!! Gimme sum of that stuff they was smokin'.

Posted by Joe-Skee on Wednesday, 05.6.09 @ 16:27pm


Posted by mrxyz on Wednesday, 05.6.09 @ 21:57pm

This page should be called "Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band" not just Captain Beefheart

Posted by Keebord on Wednesday, 07.8.09 @ 16:23pm

Captain Beefheart would have probably been in long ago if he didn't insist on constantly wearing that replica Trout Mask. Frankly, it was embarrassing to hang out with him. "Try a Catfish Mask Replica," I'd suggest, "People love cats."

Posted by Vilos Cohaagen on Sunday, 01.3.10 @ 14:24pm

To appreciate Captain Beefheart you have to really listen to the sounds and try to "feel them" just like you would do with any other music, same goes for the lyrics for the most part. But even then it might not work for you so whatever.


P.S.S How shallow is backing away from TMR because "all the women hate it?"

Posted by Carlos Lopez on Tuesday, 02.16.10 @ 22:54pm

Would have been great to see him in if for anything just "Trout Mask Replica." He probably has at least a decent shot and look, he's even been considered. Must be Frank Zappa's help there

Posted by Tahvo Parvianen on Sunday, 07.4.10 @ 05:35am

For what it's worth, PJ Harvey is a huge Beefheart fan, and is very much a woman (not to mention a wonderful musician).

Check the Captain's Wikipedia page for a list of impressive musicians who claim to have been influenced by his music (including the likes of RRHOF inductees David Byrne [Talking Heads] and Joe Strummer [The Clash]; the aforementioned nominee Waits; and musicians as varied The Minutemen, Beck, and Henry Cow just to name a few).

Posted by Lumpy Gravy on Saturday, 10.23.10 @ 22:43pm

Additionally, re: the guitars and production, influence, etc.

Zappa was behind the mixing board on this one, and essentially let Beefheart do whatever he wanted, and mixed the album to his liking (and is on record saying as much). Frank originally intended it as kind of an "anthropological field recording" type of thing, and had Dick Kunc, a recording engineer, bring a portable 8-track (I think?) recorder to the sessions (which were mostly done in [and around] a dilapidated house in which the Magic Band had spent the better part of eight months rehearsing the songs between 12 and 15 hours per day, rarely, if ever, leaving the home) for this purpose.

As far as the music sounding incoherent, sloppy, messy, etc. - the beauty of the whole thing is that the musicians involved - Harkleroad, Boston, French, Cotton - are all superbly talented. The music sounds EXACTLY the way Don and the Magic Band wanted it to sound. "Hair Pie" is musically very challenging, at least initially. And even Don's saxophone playing, which sounds like a jumbled mess to most, has drawn utterly favorable comparisons to the free jazz wanderings of Coltrane (circa "Live in Seattle"), and was influenced by (and an influence on) free jazz pioneer Ornette Coleman.

In short, the "mess" you hear on record was planned and rehearsed relentlessly to sound exactly that way. This is all not to mention: the brilliant production hijinx orchestrated by Zappa and Beefheart (playing with the traditional linearity of recorded music, for one); Beefheart's truly extraordinary voice (no, Tom Waits is not comparable; listen to "Dirty Blue Gene" from the album Doc at the Radar Station and tell me Tom Waits could dream of doing that with his pipes); and the idea that the general attitude of the album was to break the so-called "mama heartbeat," those hypnotic and oh-so commonplace beats that were permeating pop and rock music at the time.

Here's one (of a few) revealing interviews with Beefheart, this from a March 1981 Creem interview:

Posted by Lumpy Gravy on Sunday, 10.24.10 @ 00:01am

You were long overdue... R.I.P., Cap'n.

Posted by Chalkie on Friday, 12.17.10 @ 16:21pm

Just heard the news. Don "Captain Beefheart" Van Vliet will be missed. A huge loss for rock and avant-garde.

Posted by The_Claw on Friday, 12.17.10 @ 17:43pm


I can not go back to your land of gloom
Where black, jagged shadows
Remind me of the coming of your doom
I want my own land

Posted by Casper on Friday, 12.17.10 @ 18:00pm

RIP Captain.

Posted by Philip on Saturday, 12.18.10 @ 11:25am

Heard the news in e-mail today (see “”), and wonder whether he died at the right time for induction.

I have long thought Captain Beefheart, although his only Top 100 album was a collaboration with Zappa, would be on the radar for induction after the Stooges got in.

I did not predict Captain Beefheart for 2010/2011, but even this early it would be easy to see 2011/2012 as his best-ever shot at induction. Only Guns'n'Roses and Soundgarden of newly eligible artists are likely to threaten him, and who of the backlog will get in for 2011/2012 is a big question.

Posted by Julien Peter Benney on Sunday, 12.19.10 @ 01:36am

This is hardly music. The vocals are just awful and most of the time the "magic band" is just banging on their instrument. I came in being open minded, I can listen to basically any music and enjoy, but this is just awful.

Posted by Bob on Tuesday, 06.7.11 @ 16:34pm

Dude, anyone who doesn't get Trout Mask Replica just isn't getting it. It's like Kanye West and the fish sticks joke. Just get it, man!

Look, if you're from a "rock" background and it's your first experience in dissonant music, then I understand why it sounds shitty to you. However, if you've heard and appreciated Ornette Coleman, Sun Ra, later Coltrane (all of which were Beefheart's influences btw), then you'll get TMR.

If not..."Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller)" is a delight, especially for Waits fans. It's basically a Tom Waits prototype, Swordfishtrombones 5 years before it happened. And if you like psychedelic blues, "Mirror Man" is a kickass semi-improvised album.

Posted by Eric on Thursday, 07.28.11 @ 23:26pm

I've heard he has better albums than 'Trout Mask Replica'. I bought it & I thought it was a waste of money.

Posted by Paul in KY on Friday, 07.29.11 @ 08:26am

A person's got to listen to the 'Trout Mask' like 5 or 6 times before it starts to click... you'd probably like 'Safe As Milk' though -- which is also great, even on first listen

Posted by Chalkie on Monday, 08.15.11 @ 12:40pm

Chalkie, if I can find a use copy of 'Safe as Milk' sometime, I'll give it a whirl.

Posted by Paul in KY on Monday, 08.15.11 @ 15:28pm

The Hall can lick my decals off baby.

Posted by Van Vliet on Thursday, 03.1.12 @ 23:02pm

I may not love them but CAPTAIN BEEFHEARTand the MONKEES deserves to get in before Kiss MADONNA AND ABBA forget what Jann Wenner says

Posted by David Kornblatt on Tuesday, 06.4.13 @ 04:10am

I first saw the Captain live in NYC, NY in 1971 and it was worth the trip from England. I also saw him play the next stop on his tour at Tufts in Boston. Amazing range of vocals and depth of feeling, not to mention a unique take on blues and rock music, albeit a little avant garde. "That's right the Mascara Snake, fast and bulbous." Slip him into the HOF you "Neon Meat Dream of an Octofish."

Posted by Robert Mason on Tuesday, 12.23.14 @ 01:57am

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