Ray Collins, who co-founded the Mothers of Invention, passed away on Monday in Pomona, CA at the Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center.
He had been admitted to the hospital on December 18 after a massive heart attack and was taken off life support on Saturday. He was 76.
Collins got his start singing his his high school choir and in a number of Los Angeles area doo wop groups starting in the late-50's, normally singing high falsetto. In 1964, Collins, Jimmy Carl Black, David Coronado, Ray Hunt and Roy Estrada formed the Soul Giants, a lineup that would only last until Ray and the group's guitarist, Hunt, got into a fight. Frank Zappa was asked to join in the guitarist's place and the group was eventually renamed the Mothers of Invention.
Collins was out in front of the Mothers, with Zappa, during their early years, including the albums Freak Out! and Absolutely Free. He left in early 1967 but returned for another year from September 1967 to August 1968 for the recording of Cruising With Ruben and the Jets. While not a regular member of the group in later years, he did occasionally contribute to their projects through the mid-70's. He would later say that he wanted to make more serious music and Zappa spent too much time on satire.
For the rest of his life, Collins worked in a variety of jobs from taxi driver to dishwasher. He was living out of his van for the last eight years of his life.
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