I loved the original Mothers of Invention, maybe more than any of Zappa's later bands. Billy Mundi, Art Tripp and Aynsley Dunbar took over drumming duties after Jimmy Carl Black left the band.
November 7, 2008
Jimmy Carl Black, Rocker, Dies at 70
By BEN SISARIO
Jimmy Carl Black, the acerbic drummer of Frank Zappa’s mischievous and innovative rock band the Mothers of Invention, died on Saturday in Siegsdorf, Germany. He was 70.
The cause was cancer, according to a spokeswoman for Rykodisc, the company that releases Zappa’s music.
Mr. Black was a steady and serviceable drummer, but he is best known for two pranks on the Mothers of Invention’s 1968 album, “We’re Only in It for the Money.” He is the bearded, long-haired figure on the cover wearing a white dress and a Mona Lisa grin, and on the album’s first song, “Are You Hung Up?,” he delivered his half-mocking signature line: “Hi, boys and girls, I’m Jimmy Carl Black — I’m the Indian of the group.”
Born James Inkanish Jr. of Cheyenne ancestry in El Paso, he adopted his stepfather’s name. After playing in country and rock bands, he moved to Los Angeles in 1964 and formed the Soul Giants. Zappa joined that group as a guitarist and quickly persuaded the members to play his own songs. As the Mothers of Invention, the band was remade in Zappa’s eclectic vision, and it became a leading light of underground rock as much for its music as for its caustic satires of the earnestness and indulgence of the hippie era.
“He joined the band, and three days later he took it over,” Mr. Black once said of Zappa, who died in 1993.
That lineup was abruptly disbanded by Zappa in 1969, though Mr. Black took part in Zappa’s 1971 film “200 Motels,” prominently singing the song “Lonesome Cowboy Burt.”
Thereafter Mr. Black had an intermittent musical career, briefly performing with Captain Beefheart, another member of the Zappa circle. He performed and ran a house-painting business with the British singer Arthur Brown, another veteran of 1960s rock, and since the early 1980s Mr. Black also played with Don Preston, Bunk Gardner and other former members of the Mothers of Invention, appearing as the Grandmothers.
His survivors include his wife, Monika, and six children.