Electricity: Conversations With Captain Beefheart



Don Van Vliet (aka Captain Beefheart) is known for using complex time signatures and his five octave vocal range to ruminate on his pets, the wonderfulness of women, man’s stunning stupidity, and the splendor of every damn thing in the universe. But when writer Kristine McKenna met Don, he was preparing to leave music forever. This intimate radio portrait features exclusive interviews and archival tape with one of music’s most legendary eccentric geniuses.

Don and Kristine McKenna at his house in northern California, 1985. Photograph by Nick Chase.

Don was extremely well read and there were lots of books in his house. That antique boombox was his music delivery system. Photograph by Nick Chase.

Don and his beloved cat Garland. Don regarded Garland as a peer not a pet. Photograph by Nick Chase.

“Painting is a color straight-jacket and I love putting it on,” said Don. Photograph by Nick Chase

Photograph by Nick Chase.


All photographs of Captain Beefheart and Kristine McKenna by Nick Chase

Production assistance from Marion Hodges, Caitlin Shamberg, Adria Kloke, Andrea Bautista, Mark Wheaton and Tyler Hale.

Kristine McKenna
Gideon Brower
Nick White
Myke Dodge Weiskopf


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