Fans around the globe are mourning the loss of music great Ray Collins.
Collins, a singer best remembered for hiring Frank Zappa to join the band Soul Giants (which ultimately became the Mothers of Invention), died on Monday in Pomona, California. He was 75 years old.
The New York Times reports Collins was admitted to Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center in mid-December after a massive heart attack. He had been in a medically induced coma until Saturday when he was taken off life support.
Born and raised in Pomona, California, Collins kicked off his musical career singing falsetto backup vocals for various doo-wop groups in the Los Angeles area in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
In 1964, he joined the Soul Giants, an R&B cover band that performed at the Broadside Club in Pomona. After a firing guitarist Ray Hunt, Collins met with and hired Frank Zappa.
“I told them, ‘I know a guitarist in Cucamonga. His name’s Frank Zappa,’ ” Collins said.
After joining the band, Zappa encouraged the group to perform original material (often his own). In addition to altering the direction of the band’s music, Zappa would also change the groups name, first to the Mothers and eventually to the Mothers of Invention.
Collins sang on three albums, then quit the band, saying their comedic approach to music didn’t suit him.
“I wanted to make beautiful music,” Collins said in a 2009 interview with The Inland Valley Daily Bulletin.”I was raised on Johnny Mathis and Nat King Cole.”
The Rolling Stone writes, in recent years, Ray Collins was reportedly living out of a van in Claremont, California where he was frequently seen on sidewalk benches.