She Took George’s Watch Like They Always Do! (It Was A Timex Too!)c

Jim “Motorhead” Sherwood

Ian Underwood

I know it’s been a while since I’ve posted here, but I have certainly not forgotten. I also want to let people know about the Facebook group as well as the Twitter account. Be sure to follow both for regular updates and be sure to continue spreading the word on the campaign and keep passing the petition around. Let’s try to get to 5000 for our Mothers!

And now, after profiling two original Mothers, let’s acknowledge a later addition, that being none other than the late George Duke.

Born January 12, 1946 in San Rafael, California, George was first inspired to take up the piano after seeing Duke Ellington and begging his mother for a piano. Beginning his lessons at a local church at the age of seven, Duke would eventually would major in trombone and composition at the San Francisco Conservatory Of Music. Initially starting in classical, Duke was persuaded by cousin Charles Burrell to move to jazz, where he’d play with Jean-Luc Ponty and Don Ellis. While playing with the former, Duke would meet both Frank Zappa and Cannonball Adderley, who each invited him to join their bands. In the end, George worked with Zappa for two stints, and with Cannonball in between said stints.

First joining the Mothers Of Invention in 1970 during the Flo and Eddie period. Despite being taken aback by the more straightforward direction of some of the music, Duke would soon prove an invaluable addition to The Mothers. With his indomitable jazz chops, George would push the band’s chops to the next level, raising the bar for all those around him, including Zappa himself. Additionally, Duke proved a talented vocalist and charismatic personality on stage.

As Frank once said “it was real easy to play with George, especially because he’s such a great musician and you can always count on him to play something musical behind you… George would always seem to support whoever was doing a solo, wether it was me or Napoleon or whoever”. In return, Duke credited Zappa with breaking down any preconceived notions he had of how music should or should not be, as well as encouraging him to get into singing and working with synthesizers. Also worth noting is that Frank appeared on one of Duke’s solo albums (Feel), which he almost never did for any of the musicians he played with. That should really tell you how much respect he had for George Duke.

Ultimately, George would appear on Chunga’s Revenge, 200 Motels, Waka/Jawaka, The Grand Wazoo, Over-Nite Sensation, Apostrophe, Roxy & Elsewhere, One Size Fits All, Bongo Fury, You Can’t Do That On Stage Anymore Volumes 1-4 and 6, Studio Tan, Sleep Dirt, Dub Room Special, Road Tape Venues #2 and #3, Lather, and would make a cameo appearance on 1984’s Them Or Us. In addition, he would appear in 200 Motels, Roxy The Movie, and if you look closely, Baby Snakes.

After ending his time in the Mothers, Duke would return to the jazz world, becoming a prolific artist and producer. He would collaborate with the likes of Stanley Clarke, Billy Cobham, Sonny Rollins, Marcus Miller, Gladys Knight, Smokey Robinson, and many more. Nevertheless, his time with Frank and The Mothers would never be forgotten, and a Zappa medley was frequently incorporated into his shows.

Sadly, George would later suffer from and succumb to chronic lymphocytic leukemia on August 5, 2013 at the age of 67. With his departure from this world we lost a true one of a kind musician who transformed not just the sound but the spirit and energy of any band he joined, who lifted any stage to another plane of existence. Six years is too damn long to go without this great man, but his music and his memory will live on in some way or another.

Here’s to the man who rejoined on the condition he would not have to touch the trombone. Thanks for all you gave Mr. Duke, wherever you are.

Solo spot from A Token Of His Extreme:

“Eat That Question” Off The Grand Wazoo:

“Inca Roads”:

My Name Is Ian Underwood, And I’m The Straight Member Of The Group!

Jim “Motorhead” Sherwood

Another birthday, another Mothers saxophonist, and it’s none other Ian Underwood, who hits the big 8-0 today. So let’s talk about one of the Mothers’ secret weapons.

Ian Robertson Underwood (May 22, 1939 in New York City, New York) developed an interest in jazz, eventually co-forming a jazz outfit called The Jazz Mice. In 1961, Ian graduated from Yale University with a bachelor’s degree, followed by a master in music composition from the University of California at Berkeley.

During the famed Garrick Theatre run, Ian caught two shows before approaching drummer Jimmy Carl Black about joining the Mothers. Black would introduce him to Frank, who invited Ian to audition. This would later be documented on “Ian Underwood Whips It Out” off Uncle Meat.

As the first sight reader in the band, Ian helped Zappa realize his ideas much more fully than previously possible, setting in motion the standard of musicianship that Zappa’s band would become known for. A gifted multi-instrumentalist, Ian’s role in the Mothers often switched between alto sax, winds, and keyboard instruments depending on the album and tour.

After the Mothers’ breakup, Frank invited Ian and Art Tripp to stay on board, though the latter declined in favor of performing with Captain Beefheart. By staying on, Ian would bridge the gap between The Mothers and Frank’s subsequent groups.

After taking part in the Hot Rats and Flo and Eddie bands, Ian would take a lesser role in the Wazoo band, only participating in the tour on synthesizer, as well as the very beginnings of the famed Roxy Band, playing winds on Over-Nite Sensation before ending his association with Frank in 1973.

Since then, Ian has made a name for himself as a session keyboardist and synth programmer, particularly in the world of film soundtrack. Among the films he’s worked on are Titanic, Braveheart, Avatar, and Honey I Shrunk The Kids, Aliens, and How The Grinch Stole Christmas! Along these credits are performances with the likes of Janet Jackson, Peggy Lee, Quincy Jones, The Carpenters, and Jean-Luc Ponty. He was also a member of Beefheart’s band for a very brief time on guitar, as documented by John “Drumbo” French’s memoir.

Have a good 80th, Ian! You’ve earned it.

As Motorhead Explains It

Let’s remember the incredible Jim “Motorhead” Sherwood on what would have been his 78th Birthday.

Born Euclid James Sherwood on May 8th 1942 in Arkansas City, Kansas, Motorhead (dubbed so by vocalist Ray Collins because of his affinity for cars) was classmates and friends with Bobby Zappa, who introduced Motorhead to his older brother Frank. The two bonded over a love of rhythm and blues music, leading to him occasionally sitting in with Frank’s early band The Blackouts as well as The Village Inn Band and The Omens.

Motorhead joined the Mothers as a roadie in 1965, ghosting on the band’s debut Freak Out! by contributing vocal effects. He officially joined the group in mid 1967 as baritone saxophonist and tambourine player, quickly becoming known for his frenetic dancing and carefree demeanor on stage. Motörhead stayed in the band until its disbandment in 1969 as well as participating in the 1970 Reunion, Lumpy Gravy, 200 Motels as Larry Fanoga (albeit uncredited), You Are What You Is, Civilization Phaze III, Läther, and many archival releases over the years.

After his time with The Mothers, Motorhead largely retired from music aside from occasional guest appearances such as saxophone on Ruben & The Jets’ For Real!. His life during the mid to late seventies is not terribly well known although it’s believed he was involved with Scientology for a time.

In later years he collaborated with The Grandmothers in the eighties as well as the Ant Bee Project in the nineties.

Suffering an inoperable tumor, Motorhead died in his sleep on Christmas Day 2011 at the age of 69.

While Motorhead is much missed, we must remember the joy he radiated in life and on stage, and for that we will always be grateful. If you are out there anywhere, please rest easy and know you are not forgotten.

Induct The Mothers Campaign Introuction.

Thanks for joining me here at InductTheMothers. I’m here today to talk about a group seldom recognized despite their leader and frontman’s immense legacy, and that is The Mothers Of Invention, the group that backed Frank Zappa through many of his most acclaimed and celebrated works.

Zappa was posthumously inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame in 1995 by Lou Reed of Velvet Underground Fame. However, the Mothers were not included, and remain unrecognized to this day.

Here I am, fighting for the Mothers to finally receive recognition for the contributions to music.