Friday, December 28, 2012

How's Your Bird?

Today BJ, who comments here once in a while and has a pretty good blog himself, Un-Original Thoughts...(he's a much more honest man than I am), left a comment informing me that Ray Collins had died on December 24. He was the lead singer of the band, The Soul Giants, which hired Frank Zappa as their guitarist in 1962. The Soul Giants were  R&B influenced Rock Band and Ray had a perfect doo wop style falsetto as well as a, "Normal" range. Frank started to write material for the band and by 1965, the Soul Giants had mutated into the core of the original  Mothers of Invention. Ray Continued to sing and perform with the Mothers through out the 70's. He claimed he left the band because he felt that he couldn't concentrate on the great music which he really loved and inspired him. I wanted to make beautiful music,” he recalled to the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin in 2009. “I was raised on Johnny Mathis and Nat King Cole.” He was also uncomfortable with the group’s outrageous stage shows. “I didn’t like doing that stuff onstage. Too much comedy, too much making fun of stuff.”
A very recent photo of Ray
He reached a financial settlement with Zappa, but never really had commercial success. He lived driving cabs. He did recieve some song writing royalties and social security, but as he said, "Between the royalties and Social Security, I don't make enough to meet nice girls." He had been reportedly living in his van for a the last 8 years. Ray was born in 1938, he was 75 years old.
“People will ask why it’s been 40 years since I’ve been onstage. I don’t know,” Collins admitted. “If you just enjoy life, it’s conducive to not being successful. You know what I mean? I just enjoy life.”
I posted the full compilation cd, Cucamonga, which contains a lot of the pre Mothers material that Frank independently produced with Paul Bluff at his Studio Z in Cucamonga, California from 1962 to 1963.  The do wop cuts are all with Ray, who went under the moniker, Baby Ray.  The Cuts, How Your Bird and the Worlds Greatest Sinner are classics. Worlds Greatest Sinner was featured in a classic B Movie of the same name. Some say The Worlds Greatest Sinner by Timothy Carrey is one of the worst movies ever mad, others say it was a KLASSIK! Her's the cut from the movie. The band is not Baby Ray and the Ferns, but they are the sound track, the guys on the film are professional thespians, "acting".

Man, If I still had a Rock Band, this would be a song I would just have to cover!
Here's another piece by Ray Collins and Frank Zappa, apretty hilarious trashed out 1963 of the Teen Corn Ball Classic, Hey Paula....this is called, Hey Nelda.
Ray Collins  1938/2012 RIP
The list of cuts for the Cucamonga recording is after the Break:

Dear Jeepers - Bob Guy
World's Greatest Sinner - Baby Ray & The Ferns
How's Your Bird - Baby Ray & The Ferns
Every Time I See You -
The Heartbreakers
Cradle Rock - The Heartbreakers
Slow Bird - Paul Buff
Blind Man's Buff - Paul Buff
Mr. Clean -
Mr. Clean
Jesse Lee - Mr. Clean
Cathy My Angel -
The Pauls
'Til September - The Pauls
Heavies -
The Rotations
The Cruncher - The Rotations
Letter From Jeepers - Bob Guy

1 comment:

bj said...

Great tribute post, microdot! Thanks for the Cucamonga post too. I had never heard any of Ray's earlier werk before but fer shure World's Greatest Sinner is classic Frank and Ray. 'preciate yer observance of Zappadan as well. When you hear Ray was Living in a van ("Down By The River!!" heh) it sounds sad, but I read an article (still looking for where) a couple of years ago in which locals spoke lovingly of him and called him their street celebrity. Just wanted to make beautiful music, Man ... what a life, huh? Who could ask for more?
Thanks again for diggin' up the info .....