Jimmy Carl Black

jimmy carl black
Jimmy Carl Black • 1938 — 2008

Jimmy Carl Black, the original drummer for Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention, passed over to the other side November 1, 2008 at 11 p.m. in Traunstein, [some articles say Siegsdorf, ] Germany.  He was diagnosed with lung cancer in August.  He is survived by his wife, three sons and three daughters.

Following the death of his first wife, he moved to Germany in the 1990s after marrying a woman from Germany.  “I like the lifestyle,” he said in 1995.  “I can make a living playing music in Europe, and I haven’t been able to do that in the States since the 1960s.”

Friends are holding a Benefit Celebration Of Jimmy’s Life and his 50 years in show business today, December 7, 2008, at Thousand Trails Campgrounds in Acton, CA, from noon til’ dark.

Ex-members of Mothers Of Invention, Ex-members of Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band, as well as lots of other surprise guests, including Indian Nation, will be attending.

There will be food, and horseback riding, as well as some great music.

From the LA Times:

James Inkanish Jr. was born Feb. 1, 1938, in El Paso, but was reared in nearby Anthony, N.M.  He changed his name after his mother married Carl Black, Anthony’s first mayor. He lived in Anthony for 19 years, started playing piano at age 6, and took up trumpet in high school but switched to drums when he joined the Air Force in 1958 because “there weren’t any trumpets in rock ‘n’ roll.”


Black moved to Los Angeles in 1964 and formed the Soul Giants with Roy Estrada and Ray Collins. When the group’s guitarist was drafted, they hired Zappa, who took over as leader and changed the band’s name to the Mothers of Invention, promising, “If you guys will learn my music, I’ll make you rich and famous.”

“He took care of half of that promise,” Black quipped later, “because I’m damn sure I didn’t get rich.”


The Mothers carved out a niche in the pop music world with Zappa’s rhythmically complex compositions and eccentric worldview that reflected his passion for contemporary classical music. His songs required Black to master tricky, frequently shifting time signatures that few rock drummers could handle.

Zappa disbanded the Mothers in 1969, much to the dismay of Black and the other group members.  But Black appeared in Zappa’s 1971 art-house film “200 Motels” and went on to play in a variety of musical collaborations.


Black quit playing music entirely at times, once earning a living working in a doughnut shop and later as a house painter and decorator.

Besides the Muffin Men, Black often teamed up with North Carolina experimental guitarist Ed Chadbourne in a duo they called the Jack and Jim Show. He also played in the Farrell-Black blues band with guitarist Richard Farrell and in a seven-piece group called X-tra Combo.


Jimmy Carl Black
Keep it greasy, Jimmy

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