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Captain Beefheart

Glendale, CA

Est. 1964

The irregular rhythms, grating harmonies, and earthy, surreal lyrics of Captain Beefheart's songs and his blues-inflected seven-and-a-half-octave vocals (or, depending on who you believe, three-octave; the voice is impressive no matter what) suggest a near-chaotic improvised blend of Delta blues, avant-garde jazz, 20th-century classical music, and rock & roll. Actually, Beefheart's repertoire is a sort of modern chamber music for rock band, since he plans every note and teaches the band their parts by ear. 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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