^
Keep Houston Press Free
4

Lonesome Onry and Mean: RIP Jimmy Carl Black

Mothers of Invention, "Who Are the Brain Police?"

Lonesome Onry and Mean is saddened by news that Texan Jimmy Carl Black, drummer for the groundbreaking anti-establishement 1960s band Mothers of Invention, passed away in his sleep this past Saturday. He was 70 years old.

Born in El Paso and raised in Anthony, New Mexico, Black moved to Los Angeles and joined the Soul Giants, alongside Roy Estrada and Ray Collins. In 1964, they auditioned and hired a young guitarist named Frank Zappa, changed its name to the Mothers, and shortly became regulars at several important Sunset Strip clubs.

Noted producer Tom Dowd signed the band to MGM in 1965 on the basis of its searing rock song, “Trouble Coming Every Day.” What Dowd was not aware of -- he thought he’d signed a bluesy rock band -- was that Zappa had just written “Who Are the Brain Police?” (above), which became the centerpiece of the band’s first album Freak Out, now considered a cult classic and one of Zappa’s most creative works.

I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Houston and help keep the future of Houston Press free.

Trailer, 200 Motels

The Mothers broke up in 1969. Thereafter, Black played occasionally with Don van Vliet, also known as Captain Beefheart. Alongside Zappa, the charismatic Black starred in the acid-drenched 1972 cult movie classic 200 Motels, one of the trippiest, freakiest period pieces of a trippy, freaky era. The movie spawned what became Black's signature line: “Hi, boys and girl, I’m Jimmy Carl Black and I’m the Indian in the group.” (He was of Cherokee descent.)

By 1973, Black had left L.A. and the music biz and returned to Anthony, where he made donuts and shortly formed a little band called The Loboys. In 1980, he relocated to Albuquerque, eventually finding his way to Austin, where he started the painting company Gentlemen of Colr with another fringe musician, Arthur Brown of The Crazy World of Arthur Brown. However, a move to Europe with his wife, a teacher, eventually reignited Black’s musical career and he stayed busy until lung cancer took him down.

For much more on Black's life, click here. -- William Michael Smith (no relation)

Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.

 

Join the Press community and help support independent local journalism in Houston.