Captain Beefheart

Captain Beefheart

The irregular rhythms, grating harmonies, and earthy, surreal lyrics of Captain Beefheart's songs and his blues-inflected seven-and-a-half-octave vocals suggest a near-chaotic improvised blend of Delta blues, avant-garde jazz, 20th-century classical music, and rock. Because it breaks so many of rock's conventions at once, Beefheart's music has always been more influential than popular, leaving its mark on Tom Waits, Sonic Youth, and other avant-garde rock performers.

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Photo by Michael Ochs Archives/Getty

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