ray collins

* 1936/11/19   + 24/12/2012

Ray Collins started his musical career hangin out with Little Julian Herrera and the Tigers.  When they recorded 'I Remember Linda' in 195?, Ray sang high falsetto backing vocals.  Shortly thereafter, however, Little Julian was arrested and the band broke up a little later.

from the "Paul Buff presents the PAL and Original Sound studio archives, vol.1" liner notes by Greg Russo:
"Vocalist Ray Collins, did the vocals on a song that he and Paul Buff wrote called "Deserie." Yes, that is the correct spelling! The song was later done by Zappa with The Mothers Of Invention as "Deseri" on the "Cruising With Ruben And The Jets" album in 1968. This version of "Deserie" has Buff playing all the instruments and Collins singing."

Later, Ray Collins joined The Soul Giants, a band that included Jimmy Carl Black and Roy Estrada.  Collins brought in Frank Zappa when their guitar player left.  Collins knew Zappa from studio Z.  The Soul Giants eventually became the Mothers / the Mothers Of Invention.

Here's an interview with Ray

Ray Collins passed away on December 24, 2012.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013, Bobby Marquis did a Ray Collins tribute on his Radio Kaos radio show on CKCU-FM radio, Ottowa's Community radio station.



  little julian herrera and the tigers: i remember linda / true fine mama
    (195?, 7", usa, starla records) - feat. ray collins on high falsetto backing
  the penguins: memories of el monte / be mine
   (1962, 7", usa, original sound) the a-side was written by frank zappa and ray collins; produced by frank zappa
  ned & nelda: hey nelda / surf along
   (1963, 7", usa, vigah) a- and b-side written by frank zappa and ray collins
1 the mothers of invention: freak out!
    (1966, 2lp, usa, verve)

2 the mothers of invention: absolutely free
    (1967, lp,usa, verve)
5 the mothers of invention: cruising with ruben & the jets
   (1968, lp, usa, verve)

6 the mothers of invention: mothermania
   (1969, lp, usa, verve)

zappa_06.jpg (26926 bytes)

7 the mothers of invention: uncle meat
   (1969, 2lp, usa, bizarre)


the mothers of invention: burnt weeny sandwich
   (1970, lp, usa, bizarre)


the mothers of invention: weasels ripped my flesh
   (1970, lp, usa, bizarre)


frank zappa: apostrophe (')
   (1974, lp, usa, discreet)
  geronimo black: welcome back (2)
    (1980, lp, usa, helios recs) - feat. various ex-mothers of invention

  ray collins: ray and the raisons
    (1981, unreleased, usa, rhino) - the album was announced by rhino in 1981
  ray collins: demos
    (1981) - demos for panda records  // is this the same album as above??
  ray collins: of blues, myself & i
    (1982) - krc ????
  the grandmothers: lookin' up granny's dress  (3)
    (1982, lp, us, rhino records  rnlp 804) - feat. various ex-moi; incl.zappa compositions

gm_lookinup.jpg (23374 bytes)

  ray collins: magnolia
    (1984) - montclair ?????
  the mothers of invention: 'tis the season to be jelly
    (1991, cd, usa, rhino foo-eee records r2 70542)


frank zappa: you can't do that on stage anymore vol.5
   (1992, 2cd, usa, ryko)
  ray collins: love songs
    (1993, k7, usa, private release)
  the grandmothers: a mother of an anthology
    (1993, cd, us, one way records ow 28880)  = compilation + extra tracks  

  fraternity of man: x (3)
    (199?, cd5", usa, san francisco sounds sfs 09930 da) - incl. 'everybody's rockin'' (ray collins)


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


frank zappa: mystery disc
   (1998, cd, usa, ryko)


frank zappa: joe's corsage
    (2004, cd, usa, vaulternative records)


frank zappa: joe's xmasage
    (2005, cd, usa, vaulternative records)

77 frank zappa: the mofo project/object
    (2006, 2cd, usa, zappa records)

78 frank zappa: the mofo project/object
    (2006, 4cd, usa, zappa records)

  geronimo black: welcome back
    (2008, download, -, crossfire) - feat. various ex-mothers of invention / downloadable version of the 1979 album, with six bonus tracks
  jimmy carl black: "where's my waitress?" (revised)
    (2010, download, -, crossfire publications) = revised edition - download only
jcblack_wheresmywaitress2010.jpg (10002 bytes)
  geronimo black: welcome back geronimo black (revised)
    (2010, download, -, crossfire publications) = revised edition - download only

wbgb_2010.jpg (18948 bytes)


various artists: paul buff presents the pal and original sound studio archives, vol.1
    (2010, download, -, crossfire publications) - feat.contributions by frank zappa

buff_palcd01.jpg (27212 bytes)

  various artists: paul buff presents the pal and original sound studio archives: the collection
    (2011, flash-drive, usa, crossfire publications) = the complete 35 album series, with bonus liner notes on pdf and 56 extra tracks
palcollection.jpg (23146 bytes)
  various artists: paul buff presents highlights from the pal and original sound studio archives
    (2012, 5cd-box, usa, crossfire publications) = a selection of the pal and original sound studio collection // feat.contributions by frank zappa

paulbuff_palfront2a.jpg (161598 bytes)

  various artists: the frank zappa aaafnraa 2014 birthday bundle
    (2014, download, --, barfko-swill)
aaafnraa2014.jpg (34969 bytes)
  frank zappa: masked turnip cyclophony
    (2015, cd, uk, gonzo multimedia)

zappa_maskedturnipcyclophony.jpg (31383 bytes)

  frank zappa: masked turnip cyclophony
    (2016, 2lp, uk, let them eat vinyl letv408lp) = reissue of the 2015 cd with a slightly altered album cover

fz_maskedturnip_2lp2016.jpg (35032 bytes)


frank zappa: frank zappa for president
    (2016, cd, usa, zappa records zr 20021)
fz_fzforpresident.jpg (31217 bytes)


zappa / mothers: meat light
    (2016, 3cd, usa, zappa records zr20024)
fz_meatlight.jpg (46821 bytes)


semi-official releases

  the mothers of invention: wollman rink, central park, ny, august 3rd 1968
    (2014, cd, uk, keyhole records)
moi_wollmanrinkcd.jpg (27731 bytes)


concerts - sessions


random notes

     From: unknown
Released a cassette of demos in 1993, called 'Love Songs'. Also an album of demos in 1981(?) on Polar Records (he says from memory).

     From: Randy Cech
Does there exist a review of Ray's solo effort from the late 1980's early 1990's (I remember seeing a write up in Society Pages) Was this album any good????

     From: Biffyshrew
_Lovesongs_?  It's very crude musically: little two-chord songs that sound like cheesy demos made with a Casio.  But Ray's voice sure is sweet.

     From: Charles Ulrich
Today I was walking the two blocks between my office and my house, whistling "Wowie Zowie". Who should I meet but Ray Collins! I introduced myself, and he was very friendly. He is not performing because he has no band.
He mentioned the Grandmothers, but said he's not interested in singing Zappa's music, as that was "water under the bridge".

     From: unknown
When I lived in L.A. I had a musician friend who knew Ray. Once the three of us ate lunch at the Wendy's near Sunset and LaBrea. Ray was very friendly, and the conversation mostly was about what he'd been up to lately to make ends meet. Apparently Ray had not been making much music and had been driving a cab amongst other jobs.

     From: Splat
Here is a good chunk of DG Porter's interview with Ray I've been sloooowly transcribing:

Does he live in Claremont, or just near it?

     From: Splat
As of winter '98 he still lived in Claremont, and was supposedly a fixture in the campus area.

     From: computeruser
I just received from CDnow theFraternity of Man CD titled "X" And to my surprise it contains a song called "Everybody's Rockin'" which apparantly was penned by none other than Ray Collins.

     From: SJ
     Date: Fri, 18 Jan 2002
Just a note to let you know that Ray Collins is doing well. Ray is my Uncle (My dad's brother). I saw him 3 years ago at my sisters funeral & he was doing good.
Last I heard he was living near Hollywood Blvd., in Hollywood, CA. He was working on some songs (as he always is) & working odd jobs. I haven't seen him in a couple of years but occasionally I hear about him from my father. He still loves to talk to people about his adventures with the bands & will burst into song if given the chance.
It's nice to know that people fondly remember his unique work, that makes him very happy, & me very proud.

-- SJ

    From Morgan Wright
    December 2004

I met Ray Collins washing dishes in a restaurant in Lahaina Hawaii in the summer of 1976. My friend said "There's a guy washing dishes at Renees who says he was the Mother's original singer." So I went down there to get a job so I could meet this guy, and when I was washing I pretended I didn't know who he was and I started singing "Be a jerk go to work" and other Zappa lyrics just to goof on the guy until he figured out I knew he was Ray Collins. Then he was like, "Yeah, I'm Ray Collins, I hired Frank Zappa in our band when the guitar player quit, we brought Frank in but he wrote all these new songs and became the leader because we all thought he was a genius, I sang on the first 4 albums from Freak Out to Weasels ripped my flesh. Zappa never partied or took any drugs, he was always in the studio making music. He changed the name of the band to the Mothers but we had to add "Of Invention" for the first album because the record company thought Mothers was too risque."

He told me lots of stuff like this, it's not exact quotes, best i can remember. He was in Hawaii because his daughter was going to Maui Community College. She was 19 same as me. So Collins was like 45 then maybe. He was a very nice guy, totally friendly, and totally broke. Zappa never gave him a penny for anything. He was sleeping on the beach and I slept there too because he found the best spot on the beach where there were no cops or anything. That's where people slept in Lahaina if they had no home...on the beach. He used his dish washing money to support his daughter.

He was very nice and I washed dishes with him for 1 week and left, and I grew up to be an optometrist.

-- Morgan Wright OD

from Shay Collins:
2008 07 26

Just wanted to send out an update on my Uncle Ray Collins.

I'm "Shay". I was born Sharon but changed it to be closer to "RAY"....Silly I know. I became the person I am today I believe, because of my Uncle Rays influence. I sing, and I am a weirdo just like he is. My dad is his brother obviosly, wonderful and a genius but somehow I turned out just like Uncle Ray? I LOVE IT! I talk to him often and even named my new baby girl after him. Aaralynn Harmony RAY Collins, (she loves his music too) 

Well, I just got off the phone with him and he is doing very well. STILL Happy and healthy in LA. He loves his life and is very free and uncorrupted. I adore my Uncle Ray and enjoy everything I read about him. He is an inspiration to me and I am very proud!! I grew up with his pushing me to stay honest and true to myself. He taught me to sing sing sing...to own every move I make and even if I hit a bad note CLAIM IT! He is so awsome I LOVE HIM SO VERY DEARLY and I appreciate your site very much for the insite and stories. I would like to share some stories of  fun times with Uncle Ray of my own sometime. We have MANY MANY!! :)


22/12/2012  (message on Facebook)

From a Mothers Of Invention Amulni,

This morning Pat Brayer found Ray unresponsive and slumped over in his van. Pat opened the door to see if he was ok, found him warm to the touch, and immediately called 911. The Paramedics arrived and found him in a state of ventricular fibrillation, and administered 2 shocks to try to get his heart going and began chest compressions.

In the ER they shocked him 5 more times and sent him to the CICU to get cooled down. They have cooled his body down to around 32 degrees Celsius to prevent brain and tissue damage. They have to keep him asleep during this process, and he is also on pain meds. They are monitoring his blood every couple hours to make sure all of his numbers are balanced. He has about 10 different solutions of electrolytes and hydration going into his IV.

When we arrived at the hospital we spoke with the officer at the entrance, Jim, whom upon hearing Ray Collins name said " we went to Pomona High together!" and also that he knew Rays dad who was a pomona PD also. Jim let us know that they had Ray listed as a 104 year old.

The nurse, Hester, that is taking care of Ray tonight is one of those people who returns your faith in humanity. There she was alone with Ray, speaking sweetly to him as she worked hard on all of his equipment. He is her only patient tonight and she is a complete bad ass! She made sure that they changed his birthdate and paperwork to reflect his true age 75.

Hester informed us that he can still hear in the state that he is in, and I noticed his eyes trying to open as Sarah touched his arm and spoke to him.

We told him of all of your support and love, and I know he is in many of our prayers. Hester the nurse also said that it was impossible to know how much brain damage there might be if any at all, when and if he pulls through this.

I have a strong gut feeling that he will pull through it.

They will start to warm him up tomorrow night at 8:15 and she said it can take up to twelve hours for him to come back up to a more normal temperature, so Thursday morning would be the most likely time he may return from his dream state. I am so grateful to my awesome sister for calling me and taking me to see him. I could tell that it made a difference for him and also the staff seeing that people care about him and letting them all know that he is an extraordinary person and artist made a difference to some of them I could tell. Also the fact that he is not a drug user or alcoholic makes a big difference to them.

I know that Hester would give him the best care no matter who he was because she shines with the light of love and compassion and is amazing.

25/12/2012 message on Facebook

I regret to inform everyone, Ray passed away last night at 9:15. He will TRULY be missed. I wanna thank you all for the support and love you all have shown these last two weeks. Here we will keep jis memories alive. RIP Ray Collins


2012/12 - message on Facebook by Art Tripp (forwarded by Chris Garcia)


It's not quite dawned on me yet that Ray Collins is no longer in this terrestrial world. Since the late 1960's it had always been a type of comfort to me to know that Ray was around. And Ray did get around. A child of the 1930's, he came of age in the 1950's when times were good. He developed a free spirit and a resistance to labels and rules. His fine tenor voice got him work in prominent L.A. doo-wop bands; but he took other types of work as well. One of them was a good paying job building sets for the movie studios. He told me he quit because he got tired of the idiots.

He joined up with Roy Estrada and Jimmy Carl Black in the Soul Giants. When their guitar player quit they hired Frank Zappa, a musician Ray had worked with earlier in the 1960's. Soon the Mothers of Invention were born, and Ray helped front the band, and was its lead vocalist for the next three years. His ribald and off beat sense of humor was a perfect complement to the unclassifiable group.

When I joined the band in 1968, it was as if I'd died and gone to heaven. The humor, the iconoclasm, the musicianship, and the wide variety of music were a perfect fit. And to me Ray was the fountainhead of the basic nature of the band. Yet later that year Ray's distaste for the group's musical direction compelled him to announce that he was leaving the group. I was stunned. Everyone was shocked. How could he quit when the group was getting so popular, and starting to provide us with so much work? But off he went, and I felt that he took the spirit of the Mothers with him.

Ray had his own convictions, and he was never one to veer from them. He resolutely held to his beliefs no matter what the popular course. As a man of the people, an everyman, Ray was a true free spirit-a Beatnik, and a wanderer.

I have many memories of Ray. We played the Grammy Awards in '68 at the plush NY Hilton. Steve Allen was the host that year, Woody Herman and his Herd was the house band. When they drew the curtain up for our performance Ray walked over to Steve and said, "How's your bird"? Allen let out a big horse laugh, and the guys in Herman's band doubled over in stitches.

Ray joined us for a last gig in San Diego in 1969. During the show Ray improvised a gag which lampooned Jim Morrison's "exposure" on stage a few weeks prior. Morrison's antics had sent shockwaves throughout rock 'n roll, and people suspected he'd gone too far. So Ray's satire caused the entire audience to come unglued.

We kept in touch over the years. A few months ago my wife and I went out to L.A. to visit old friends. We got together with Ray down at the venerable Phillipe's Restaurant near Union Station. Afterwards we spent some time at Olvera Street, then we walked down to Union Station to see Ray off on his train back to Claremont. After a few final words, he turned and walked down the tunnel to his train. As I watched him go, I knew that it would be the last time I was to see Ray. Yet I never would have dreamed that he'd be gone in six months. Goodbye, old friend. I can hear you singing to them in heaven.

Art Tripp



Over the past few years I have had the pleasure of getting to know Arthur Dyer Tripp via phone calls, emails and such and sending music written and otherwise back and forth and sharing way too many stories. Had the pleasure of meeting Art and his wife in Los Angeles and again in New Orleans this year (2012).
When I heard about Ray Collins I gave Art a call. I received this from Art today and he said I could post it along with this pic taken this year,

THANKS ART!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!



frank zappa  / musicians timeline



 c   d   e   f   g   h   i   j   k   l   m 
 n   o   p   q   r   s   t   u   v   w   x   y   z
soundtracks various artists