Nominate The Mothers Of Invention For The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame

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In 1995, musician and songwriter Frank Zappa was posthumously inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame. Absent, however, was the band that backed him on and brought many of his classic records to life, and who were included in Zappa’s first nomination, the Mothers Of Invention.

The Mothers Of Invention were formed in 1965 as a rhythm and blues band called The Soul Giants. Shortly after the guitarist’s departure, singer Ray Collins brought in his friend Frank Zappa into the band. Zappa would assume leadership of the band, who would become crucial figures in the 1960s counterculture with their social commentary, innovative album artwork, groundbreaking music and production, and surrealist humor. Although the original or “classic” Mothers were disbanded in 1969, Zappa continued to use the name to varying degrees well into the mid 1970s. The impact of the Mothers Of Invention continues to reverberate to this day, with Freak Out! and We’re Only In It For The Money ranked by Rolling Stone as among the 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time. In addition, the Mothers would become regarded as a benchmark for aspiring musicians to reach, with every member being a standout either through their virtuosity or personality.

However, for all of Zappa’s acclaim, the band themselves have often been neglected in the process, their absence from Zappa’s Rock Hall induction being the most notable example of this. Members Ray Collins, Jimmy Carl Black, Jim “Motorhead” Sherwood, Billy Mundi, and George Duke have passed on, and the surviving members still await proper recognition.

In 2012, a special committee was appointed to recognize many groups left out when their frontpeople were originally inducted. While this is clearly not common place, it shows that indeed past mistakes can be remedied, the unsung heroes receiving their due alongside the more famous members.

While Frank Zappa remains one of rock’s great visionaries and his talent and achievements indisputable, it must be remembered that this band played no small role in helping him achieve his status in rock and popular music as a whole. To paraphrase Smokey Robinson, they didn’t stand behind Frank, they stood with him.

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