Published Dec 27, 2012Ray Collins, the singer who helped launch the career of Frank Zappa, died this past Monday (December 24) following a cardiac arrest. Reports of his exact age differ, but he was in his mid-'70s.
The New York Times reports that Collins suffered a cardiac arrest about a week prior to his passing and was admitted to hospital in Pomona, CA.
Collins sang in groups in the '50s and '60s, including a R&B covers group called the Soul Giants. Following a dispute with the band's original guitarist, he recruited Zappa as a replacement, and the group became the Mothers of Invention soon after. Collins remained with the group for most of the '60s, performing on albums like Freak Out!, Absolutely Free and Cruising with Ruben & the Jets.
Collins reportedly left the group due to Zappa's emphasis on what some saw as goofy satire, although he made some subsequent appearances alongside Zappa.
According to the Inland Valley Daily Bulletin, after Collins left music, he became a taxi driver in Los Angeles and spent some time washing dishes while living on the beach in Hawaii. He reportedly lived for more a decade on a friend's property in Claremont, CA, and spent his final eight years living out of a van. His only income sources were Social Security and music royalties.