Captain Beefheart has died at the age of 69.

The eccentric musician - born Don Van Vliet - passed away on Friday (17.12.10) from complications relating to multiple sclerosis at a hospital in Northern California.

As well as his music, Beefheart was well known as an artist, having given up his singing career in the mid-1980s to become a full-time painter.

Born in Lancaster, California, to impoverished parents Beefheart once claimed he never spent more than half a day in school in his entire life.

He said: "If you want to be a different fish, you gotta jump out of the school."

His music has been named as an influence by a number of bands including Nirvana, White Stripes and The Red Hot Chilli Peppers.

His art became a huge part of his life and in 1991 he revealed he was rarely seen out of doors because he would rather be in with his paintings.

He said: "I don't like getting out when I could be painting. And when I'm painting, I don't want anybody else around."

Little is known about his personal life, although he is known to have resided in Trinidad, California with his wife Janet, who he married in 1970.

His death was announced by the Michael Werner Gallery in New York, which sells his artwork.

Michael said: "Don Van Vliet will be sorely missed."