Don Van Vliet (, born Don Glen Vliet; January 15, 1941 – December 17, 2010) was an American musician, singer-songwriter and artist best known by the stage name Captain Beefheart. His musical work was conducted with a rotating ensemble of musicians called the Magic Band (1965–1982), with whom he recorded 13 studio albums.
Noted for his powerful singing voice with its wide range, Van Vliet also played the harmonica, saxophone and numerous other wind instruments. His music blended rock, blues and psychedelia with avant-garde and contemporary experimental composition; many of his works have been classified in the art rock genre. Beefheart was also known, however, for exercising an almost dictatorial control over his supporting musicians, and for often constructing myths about his life.
During his teen years in Lancaster, California, Van Vliet developed an eclectic musical taste and formed "a mutually useful but volatile" friendship with Frank Zappa, with whom he sporadically competed and collaborated. He began performing with his Captain Beefheart persona in 1964 and joined the original Magic Band line-up, initiated by Alexis Snouffer, in 1965.