I was saddened to learn of Ray Collin’s passing on Christmas Eve. Ray Collins was instrumental to the creation of Frank Zappa & The Mothers of Invention by mentioning to Jimmy Carl Black and Roy Estrada when they were part of the Soul Giants he knew a guitarist for their group.
The Soul Giants band consisted of drummer Jimmy Carl Black, bassist Roy Estrada, saxophonist Davy Coronado and guitarist Ray Hunt. Hunt, however, was incompetent or purposely messed up to be spiteful, Collins relates.
“I was new to the band but it was up to me to get rid of him,” Collins says. After the deed was done – no punches were thrown, he insists – he made a fateful suggestion.
“I told them, `I know a guitarist in Cucamonga. His name’s Frank Zappa,”‘ Collins says.
Zappa auditioned and fit in perfectly, but he was a prolific songwriter and a new direction was called for.
“If you will play my music, I will make you rich and famous,” Zappa is said to have told them.
Ray Collins first became known as a vocalist by performing with various doo-wop and pachuco groups in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
My two favorite Ray Collins’s Zappa/Mothers recordings are:
“America Drinks and Goes Home” – Absolutely Free (1967)
“Anything” – Cruisin with Reuben and the Jets (1968)
I hope we’ve played your requests…
the songs you like to hear…
Last call for alcohol!…
Drink it up folks…
(c) 1967 Zappa Family Trust
- Ray Collins, 1936-2012 (somecamerunning.typepad.com)
- Mothers of Invention rocker Ray Collins dead at 73 (upi.com)