American musician Euclid James “Motorhead” Sherwood, notable for playing soprano, tenor and baritone saxophone, tambourine, vocals and vocal sound effects in Frank Zappa’s original Mothers of Invention, died on December 25th.
Motorhead Sherwood appeared on all the albums of the original Mothers line-up and the posthumous releases “Burnt Weeny Sandwich” and “Weasels Ripped My Flesh”, as well as a number of subsequent Zappa albums. He also appeared in the films “200 Motels”, “Video from Hell” and “Uncle Meat”.
Sherwood and Zappa met in high school in 1956. Sherwood was in a class with Zappa’s brother Bobby, who introduced the two after learning that Sherwood was a collector of blues records. Sherwood sat in with Zappa’s first band, R&B group The Black-Outs. In 1964 Sherwood and Zappa lived in Zappa’s Studio Z in Cucamonga for some time.
Sherwood first joined The Mothers of Invention as a roadie and equipment manager, also contributing sound effects (using both his voice and saxophone) to their first album, 1966’s “Freak Out”. He became a full member around the time of the group’s experimental residence at the Garrick Theater in 1967.
The nickname “Motorhead” was coined by fellow Mothers member Ray Collins, who observed that Sherwood always seemed to be working on repairing cars, trucks or motorcycles, and joked that “it sounds like you’ve got a little motor in your head”. In later years, Sherwood contributed to various projects alongside fellow Mothers alumni, including records by The Grandmothers, Mothers keyboardist Don Preston, Ant-Bee and Sandro Oliva.
Jim “Motorhead” Sherwood was 69 years old.