Experimental saxophonist and original member of Frank Zappa’s Mothers of Invention Jim Sherwood passed away on Christmas of undetermined causes. He was 69 years old.
Nicknamed “Motorhead” for his love of automobiles, Sherwood played sax on all of Zappa’s early albums, ending his stint with the Mothers of Invention after the release of the classic 1970 album Weasels Ripped My Flesh. He met Zappa in high school, where the pair bonded over their love of old blues music, and began his stint with the Mothers of Invention as an equipment manager, only occasionally participating in the recordings (he is credited with providing “noises” on the band’s 1966 debut Freak Out!).
He joined the band as a musician full-time in 1967, ripping through saxophone and percussion parts for the seven subsequent Zappa albums before the Mothers of Invention dissolved in 1969. Sherwood stayed close to Zappa, appearing in his classic cult film 200 Motels and frequently worked with him on subsequent musical projects up until the latter’s death in 1993. Later, he made multiple appearances with the Grandmothers, a collection of musicians who played alongside Zappa at various points in his career.