I Wish Motorhead Would Come Back

As I have no real talent for drawring or creating mashups, I have taken to creating short essays, with 2012 as no exception. I would like this year to appreciate some of the fine, fine people in the Zappa universe besides the Man with the Iron Mustache.

Starting with Jim “Motorhead” Sherwood.

Of Sherwood, one of Frank Zappa’s oldest friends, he said, “He’s one of those guys you say, ‘I know this guy who’s really weird and I want to show him to you.”

Sherwood, like me, was a Kansas boy who likely rarely ever went back once he escaped. Euclid James Sherwood, born May 8, 1942 in Arkansas City, Kan. He died last Christmas. Just days after Zappadan. So we didn’t really get to mention it.

Motorhead first met Mr. Zappa in 1956 at Antelope Valley High School in California. Sherwood was in the same class as Frank’s brother Bobby. Zappa and Motorhead had a fondness for blues and R&B. Zappa, at the time fronting a band called The Blackouts and Sherwood would regularly jam with Zappa.

A few clips, from the BBC show “Colour Me Pop.” Motorhead is on baritone sax and also brings the phrase “I gotta have more tambourine” to mind.

Also, here’s an excellent clip of the Mothers: 1968-10-23 Paris (embedding disabled).

(Other personnel apparently includes: Art Tripp and Jimmy Carl Black on drums. Roy Estrada on bass and vocals. Don Collins on keys. Bunk Gardner and Ian Underwood on saxophones.)

As you can see, Sherwood was a dancer, a performer. He always was. It’s how he started in the band, then known as the Black-Outs:

From the Barry Miles biography:

He did “The Bug” in which he attempted to shake off some horrible creature that was tickling him; he twitched and shook and rolled around the stage trying to get it off. Eventually he managed to trhow it into the audience, hoping that some of the girls would pick up on it.

A personal note I dug up from Zappa sister Candy:

This time of year always brings good things and sometimes very sad things. a very sad thing for us, we lost another member of the Zappa troup, Jim “Motorhead” Sherwood, one of Frank’s longtime friend and early Mother’s member, passed last night around 10pm, on Christmas. i remember when Jim and Frank would come over to our house in Montclair, CA, when i was about 11 and of course, Frank would have his coffee black, and when i asked Jim how he wanted his coffee, he said “Just pour sugar in it till it comes over the side” which today still makes me laugh to tell it. his wife Lynn, Jim’s son and his wife were with Jim when he left. say some healing prayers for Lynn and Jim’s family today, they need them.

So a year later, we say “thanks” to the Sherwoods and start out our Zappadan adventure in remembrance.


Sherwood ain’t the only talent from his earliest days that Zappa used to tap. There’s also Denny Walley.

Walley moved to Lancaster, Cali., when he was 12, by which time he was already somewhat of an accordion master. He met Frank Zappa (and Motorhead) via brother Bobby at 14-ish. He went on to become a bitchin’ slide blues player, just in time to ride along on the Bongo Fury tour.

Maybe I ought to let him tell the story.

I mean, before you count this guy out, let’s keep in mind: He married Janet Planet.

I know!

3 thoughts on “I Wish Motorhead Would Come Back

  1. Pingback: BummerNacht: Stairway to Heaven « Mad Blog Media

  2. I’ve been a Zappa fan since 1970, when a neighbor who had a friendd who worked at Warner-Reprise gave me the OCTOBER 19TH, 1969 and ZAPPED sampler albums as gifts, with Peaches En Regalia and Willie The Pimp on each respective LP. Zappa put out oodles of great music before and after HOT RATS, but that album really seemed to allow Zappa to let loose in a way he rarely ever did again (an exception being the title track of APOSTROPHE, with FZ, Jack Bruce and Jim Gordon blasting merrilly away). Related question: FZ was listed as arranger of All Night Long and The Other Side Of This Life on The Animals’ ANIMALISM album. Judging by the guitar work on the former tune, I wouldn’t be surprised if Frank is the soloist on that track. Confirmations from anyone, please? Parting shot: Jeff Simmons’ LUCILLE HAS MESSED MY MIND UP is on CD from Collectors’ Choice. Get it, and not just forthe supercool Zappa guitar on the title track. The whole album is great, and has the original version of WONDERFUL WINO, six years before FZ redid it on ZOOT ALLURES.

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