Even in the 1960s, there was nothing on earth like Captain Beefheart and The Magic Band. After conventional rock beginnings The Captain - aka Don Van Vliet - formed his legendary band in 1964 and went on to stake out startling new possibilities for rock music. The bizarre Beefheart classic Trout Mask Replica became an influential avant-garde double album, reflecting Van Vliet's fascination with psychedelia, free jazz, rock'n'roll and the blues. His highly individual vocal style, the surreal poetry and a reclusive nature turned The Captain into an iconic counterculture hero who would eventually abandon music for painting. As an artist he then acquired a major international reputation for his figurative and expressionist oil paintings. Mike Barnes' critical biography gives an assured survey of all of Don Van Vliet's creative work as well as an insight into the extraordinary personality behind it and the history of a truly original rock band.