Let me tell you.
Van Vliet was one of the rare breed of artists who never compromised his vision, regardless of how bizarre that vision may have seemed to everyone else. He wasn't for mass consumption and never pretended to be. He read the rulebooks of genre, sonic quality, and commercial viability and promptly told them to go fuck themselves. Maybe despite this, or more likely because of it, he was a bastion to other musicians who want to focus on their art rather than their album sales. Frank Zappa was a longtime friend and collaborator. Tom Waits found something he'd been looking for in Trout Mask Replica and started modifying his sound. Beefheart was a muse, changing the face of music and inspiring others to do the same. That's why he was so important.
You can dig deeper into the man, the music, the strange history of how his opus of an album was recorded, on your own. I'll just throw a couple songs out here so you can listen in. You may love them, you may hate them, but you can't deny they're unlike anything else you've heard. Rest in peace, you strange, brilliant man.
Click to play Captain Beefheart - Ella Guru
Click to play Captain Beefheart - When Big Joan Sets Up
Click to play Captain Beefheart - China Pig