Led by Don Van Vliet, a teenage friend of Frank Zappa's, Captain Beefheart had a hard time getting its musical career off the ground. The band is distinguished by remarkable vocals, strongly influenced by Howlin' Wolf and Little Richard. Frank Zappa offered Beefheart a chance to record for his label, Straight Records, giving them the same sort of freedom that Andy Warhol gave the Velvet Underground. Critic Lester Bangs called Beefheart "the only true Dadaist in rock." Always at odds with the business of making music and sensing that he had stopped breaking ground, Captain Beefheart retired in 1983 to concentrate on sculpture and painting. His artwork now sells in the range of $40,000 per piece, and he rarely discusses his earlier adventures.
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