The 'Indian' In Frank Zappa's Band Dies
Wed, 05 Nov 2008 14:51:56
Jimmy Carl Black, a drummer/vocalist and self-described "Indian of the group" (the group being Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention), died of cancer on Saturday in Siegsdorf, Germany. The El Paso native was 70.
While he was born James Inkanish Jr. on February 1, 1938, Black legally changed his name in 1958, assuming the same one as his stepfather, Carl Black. Frank Zappa originally joined Black's group, The Soul Giants, in 1964, but as Black once explained it, "three days later he took it over" and changed it to the Mothers of Invention. "[He said] 'if you guys learn my music, I'll make you rich and famous'," Black continued. "He took care of half of that promise, because I'm damn sure I didn't get rich."
The Mothers split up in 1969... when Zappa fired everyone. "We all just got a phone call from him stating that he had decided to break up the band and your salary has ended as of last week," Black said in an old interview. "That is pretty cold."
Indeed. Most of Black's post-Invention career left his pockets empty; so much so that a recent remix of his work was called "Can I Borrow a Couple of Bucks Until the End of the Week?" Since moving to Germany in 1995, Black has occasionally appeared with the Muffin Men, a Liverpool group that revisits the work of Zappa and Captain Beefheart.
Black is survived by three sons, three daughters, and his third wife, Monika.
—The ARTISTdirect Staff