Ray Collins – co-founder of Mothers of Invention with Frank Zappa – passed away on Monday in California.
While his cause of death remains unclear, Collins, believed to be aged in his mid-70s, was admitted to Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center about a week earlier for cardiac arrest, reports New York Times.
According to The Daily Bulletin, Mr. Collins had been living out of a van in California in recent years, regularly sitting on sidewalk benches across the state. These appearances became more common after Collins gradually left his job in Los Angeles as a taxi driver. Prior to this, he washed dishes in a restaurant in Hawaii.
Collins met Zappa in the mid-1960s when he chose a replacement guitarist for his doo-wop band, The Soul Giants. Together, the group released two successful albums – Freak Out (1966) and Absolutely Free (1967). Collins quit the band after that album, but returned to help out on the band’s doo-wop concept album, Cruising with Ruben and the Jets.