A Gone But Not Forgotten El Paso Rocker
A lot of famous musicians have come from El Paso. I had never heard this classic rocker's story though, read on!
A number of big names have come from or lived in El Chuco including, Nikki Sixx, Al Jourgenson, Ian Moore, Jim Ward and Sparta just to name a few. (And there are plenty more on deck.) A good friend of mine, Paul Lewey, sent me this and his credits are at the end. Great story Paul, thank you.
Thanks to these videos; you can either read his story, watch him tell it himself or both!
James Carl Inkanish, Jr. (February 1, 1938 – November 1, 2008), known professionally as Jimmy Carl Black, was a drummer and vocalist for The Mothers of Invention
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. Zappa died of prostate cancer in 1993.
It was in late 1977 when I was introduced to Big Sonny and the Mesilla Valley Lo Boys by my fiancée Carole Fish. Carole had attended El Paso Tech with Richard Farlow the base player. Sonny was Richard’s older brother playing lead guitar and lead vocals with Jimmy Carl doing his magic with the drums. There was two other members of the band which their names escape me, one conga drums and a backup guitar. I supported the repairs of their support equipment, microphones, cables, amps, feeders and sound/mixing board. They played many of the clubs of that era. This Is Texas, Tree Top and the Hondo Pass Club, later to be known as the Iron Horse. During this time frame they cut one vinyl album and one 45. The band broke apart when Jimmy Carl quit playing music entirely and returned to Anthony, NM to care for one of his ailing parents. As I recall this is when he was working in a doughnut shop and later as a house painter and decorator. After the breakup Big Sonny and Richard moved to California to seek their fortune in music. Richard is now deceased.
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. He reunited with former Mothers Bunk Gardner and Don Preston as the Grandmothers, performing vintage Zappa songs and other original compositions laced with similarly irreverent humor and political commentary.
"Zappa got most of his funniness from us," Black said in a 2000 interview with the Sarasota (Fla.) Herald-Tribune. "I think humor does belong in music. What we try to do is give the people a show where they have a good time. I like people to get their money's worth."
He moved to Germany in the 1990s after marrying a German woman."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."
An autobiographical audio production with Jimmy Carl Black was recorded in 2007, called The Jimmy Carl Black Story, produced by Jon Larsen.
Black was diagnosed with lung cancer in August 2008, and died on November 1, 2008 in Siegsdorf, Germany.
In 2013, the documentary Where's the Beer and When Do We Get Paid? about Black began running in Germany.
Black's autobiography For Mother's Sake was published by Black's widow on November 1, 2013 to mark the fifth anniversary of his death.
The incomplete manuscript was rounded off using material from the synoptic web-bio Black published on his website and extracts from various interviews Black gave.