Contingencies fans probably have heard of the death of Beefheart. Ave atque vale. Google "Don Van Vliet selling vacuum cleaners to Aldous Huxley" for mo,' or not. Or peruse the Up Sifter and Lester Bangs' trenchant rock scrawlings.
Lester Bangs on Beefheart:
"""There are some of us who think he is one of the giants of 20th century music, certainly of the postwar era. He has never been to music school, and taught himself to play about half a dozen instruments including soprano sax, bass clarinet, harmonica, guitar, piano, and most recently mellotron. He sings in seven and a half octaves, and his style has been compared to Howlin' Wolf and several species of primordial beasts. His music, which he composes for ensemble and then literally teaches his bands how to play, is often atonal but always swings in a way that very little rock ever has. His rhythmic concept is unique. I hear Delta blues, free jazz, field hollers, rock 'n' roll and lately something new that I can't put my finger on but relates somehow to what they call "serious" music. You'll probably hear several other things.
This is going to be a profile partially occasioned by the release of his 12th (and best since 1972's Clear Spot) album, Doc at the Radar Station. This is also going to be, and I hesitate mightily to say this because I hate those articles where the writer brays how buddybuddy he is with the rock stars, about someone I have long considered a friend and am still only beginning to feel I understand after 11 years. Which is perhaps not so long a time to take to be able to say that you have learned anything about anyone.
Meanwhile, back in the Mojave Desert, Don Van Vliet is enjoying a highly urbane, slyly witty (anecdotes and repartee litter the lunar sands like sequins 'n' confetti on the floor of a Halloween disco), and endlessly absorbing conversation with a gila monster. "GRAAUUWWWKKK!" says the big slumbrous reptile, peering out its laser-green lidless bulging eyes and missing nothing. "Brickbats fly my fireplace," answers Van Vliet. "Upside down I see them in the fire. They squeak and roast there. Wings leap across the floor." "KRAAEEAUUWWWKKK!" advises heat-resistant gila. Van Vliet the Captain nods and ponders the efficacy of such a course. They've both just washed down the last of the scalding chilli fulla big eyed beans from Venus what glare atcha accusingly as ya poppem doomward inya mouf. The Captain, Van Vliet, call him which you choose, has chosen to live out here, squatflat wampum on this blazened barren ground for many a year. Don't see too much o' the hoomin side o' the varmint family out here, but that's fine with Cap Vliet, "Doc" as he's called by the crusty prospectors hung on lak chiggers from times before his emigration to this spot.""""