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Jim 'Motorhead' Sherwood, the original woodwind player for Frank Zappa's Mothers of Invention, passed away on December 25 at the age of 69, the Guardian reports. His cause of death is yet to be determined.
Sherwood acquired the nickname 'Motorhead' due to his love of automobiles. Born in Arkansas City, Kansas, he was a classically trained multi-instrumentalist and handled soprano, tenor and baritone saxophone duties in the Mothers of Invention as well as taking on tambourine, vocals, and vocal sound effects.
Sherwoood met Frank Zappa in high school in 1956 after moving to California, playing with him in the bands the Blackouts and the Omens. The two formed a friendship and musical bond that would last for the rest of their careers. As Zappa told Rolling Stone in 1968: "Euclid James 'Motorhead' Sherwood I've known for 12 years. We were in high school in Lancaster together. He used to play baritone sax in the Omens. He has the ability to perform a dance known as the bug, which resembles an epileptic fit. 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 continued to play with Zappa after he disbanded the original Mothers of Invention lineup in 1969, appearing on 'You Are What You Is,' and 'Civilization Phase III,' the last album Zappa completed before his death in 1993.