the blackouts

FZ in "The Real Frank Zappa Book":

When I was in high school, in Lancaster, I formed my first band, the Black-Outs. The name derives from when a few of the guys, after drinking peppermint schnapps, purchased illicitly by somebody's older brother, blacked out. This was the only R&B band in the entire Mojave Desert at that time. Three of the guys (Johnny Franklin, Carter Franklin and Wayne Lyles) were black, the Salazar brothers were Mexican and Terry Wimberly represented the other oppressed peoples of the earth. ... The fact that this was an 'integrated' band disturbed a lot of people. This distress was compounded by the fact that, prior to my arrival, someone had put on a rhythm-and-blues show at the fairgrounds, and legend had it that 'colored people brought dope into the valley when they did that damn show, and we're never gonna let that kind of music 'round here again'. I didn't know about any of this shit when I put the band together. Anyway, my part-time job in high school was working in a record store for a nice lady named Elsie (sorry, I can't remember her last name) who liked R&B. As you can imagine, in a town like that, paying gigs for an 'integrated R&B band' were few and far between. One day, I got a great idea: I decided to promote my own gig - a dance - at the local women's club hall, and I asked Elsie to help me. I wanted her to rent the hall for us, and she agreed to do so. Now, I'm pretty sure about this - it was Elsie who had promoted the original 'colored-person show with optional chemical commodities' - and I didn't fully grasp the local socio-political ramifications of all this when I asked her to book the hall. So, everything was set - the band rehearsed out in Sun Village in the Harrises' living room, we had our song list, we were selling tickets, everything was fine. The evening before the dance, while walking through the business district at about six o'clock, I was arrested for vagrancy. I was kept overnight in the jail. They wanted to keep me long enough to cancel the dance - just like in a really bad 1950s teenage movie. It didn't work. Elsie and my folks got me out. We played the dance. It was a lot of fun. We had an enormous turnout of black students from Sun Village. Motorhead Sherwood was the hit of the evening - he did this weird dance called 'The Bug', where he pretended that some creature was tickling the fuck out of him, and he rolled around on the floor, trying to pull it off. When he 'got it off', he threw it at girls in the audience, hoping that they would flop around on the floor too. A few of them did. After the dance, as we were packing our stuff into the trunk of Johnny Franklin's wasted blue Studebaker, we found ourselves surrounded by a large contingent of lettermen (The White Horror), eager to cause physical harm to our disgusting little 'integrated band'. This was a mistake because, upon seeing the Gathering of the Ugly Jackets, a few dozen 'Villagers' started hauling chains and tire irons out of their trunks, with a look in their eyes that said, 'The night is young'. The lettermen folded, in total humiliation - God, they're so sensitive about that sort of thing - and went home to their coots & codgers. They remained hostile to me and the other guys in the band all the way through to graduation.

The Blackouts (as listed in "The Real Frank Zappa Book"):

The Blackouts (as listed in Greg Russo's book):

The original band members can be heard in conversation on The Lost Episodes.

In the late fifties, Ronnie Williams started a band called The Blackouts.

The original members were:

A 1958 - 1959 recording of a bit of dialogue between The Blackouts can be found on:

  frank zappa: the lost episodes (64)
   (1996, cd, usa, ryko)

In 1961 Ronnie Williams asked Dwight Bement to join the band, which he did.  The band was ocassionally joined by Jim Sherwood and others to play at 'battle of the band' concerts. At that time, the Blackouts were:

Ronnie Williams: guitar
Frank Zappa
Dwight Bement: sax
Joe Perrino: piano
Al Sarratt: drums
Rex Jakobowski: guitar, vocals, harmonica

At the end of 1962 or the beginning of 1963, Tommy Kendall came up to Ontario and asked Dwight Bement to go back to San Diego to start another band, The GentrysRonnie Williams joined the Gentrys shortly thereafter.

frank zappa  / musicians timeline



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