The Mothers of Invention were an American band active from 1966 to 1969. Throughout, their output was primarily directed by composer and guitarist, Frank Zappa (1940–1993). Their albums combined a broad span of genres and utilised diverse instrumentation. Their lyrics were generally humorous, with frequent style-parodies of contemporary Pop music (with doo-wop love ballads endlessly lampooned), bountiful surreal imagery, cartoonish vocals and oblique, satirical protest songs. Their diversity and insincerity makes their classification difficult, but Zappa's increasingly ambitious and avant-garde compositions towards the end of the 1960s share many features of Free Jazz and 20th Century Classical music. The group's output, particularly Absolutely Free, also proved enormously influential on the then-nascent genre of progressive rock.
Zappa disbanded the original Mothers of Invention line-up in 1970 to create music under his own name, but shortly reformed an entirely new band sometimes known as "The Mothers". This new incarnation had a strong vaudeville style and were much bawdier than before, with new vocalists Flo & Eddie, previously of the Turtles, taking the lead. After Zappa was pushed offstage in the Rainbow Theatre in 1971, he broke up this second band and concentrated on a jazzier style with a short-lived big band called the Grand Wazoo, but returned with a third lineup of the Mothers in 1973. This reformed group retained musical similarities to the previous group and the chamber music of the late '60s Mothers, but with a tighter, funkier sound; George Duke's soulful vocals being perhaps the most memorable addition. Whilst members of the new Mothers frequently appeared on albums credited solely to Zappa, three albums, Overnite Sensation, Roxy & Elsewhere and One Size Fits All display the name Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention.
The Mothers of Invention (1966-1969)
Frank Zappa - Musical director, guitar & vocals
Ray Collins - Lead vocalist, harmonica, tambourine, finger cymbals, bobby pin & tweezers 1966-early 1967, September 1967-August 1968
Jim Black - Drums
Roy Estrada - Bass & guitarron; boy soprano
Elliot Ingber - Alternate lead & rhythm guitar early 1966-September 1966
Jim Fielder - guitar, piano late 1966-February 1967
Don Preston - keyboards November 1966-August 1969
Bunk Gardner - woodwinds November 1966-August 1969
Billy Mundi - Drums November 1966-Decmber 1967
Euclid James Motorhead Sherwood - soprano, tambourine baritone saxophone & Roadie 1966, September 1967-August 1969
Ian Underwood -Woodwinds,Saxophone July 1967-August 1969
Arthur Dyer Tripp III - drums, timpani, vibes, marimba, xylophone, wood blocks, bells, small chimes December 1967-August 1969
Lowell George - Rhythm Guitar November 1968-May 1969
Buzz Gardner November 1968- August 1969
Core discography (note that the band's canon is nebulous, due to the often poorly demarcated overlap with Frank Zappa's solo discography; this list additionally omits albums released after the breakup of the band)
1966 - Freak Out!
1967 - Absolutely Free
1968 - We're Only in It for the Money
1968 - Cruising with Ruben & the Jets
1969 - Uncle Meat
1970 - Burnt Weeny Sandwich
1970 - Weasels Ripped My Flesh
1971 - Fillmore East - June 1971
1971 - 200 Motels
1972 - Just Another Band from L.A.
1972 - The Grand Wazoo
1973 - Over-Nite Sensation
1974 - Roxy & Elsewhere
1975 - One Size Fits All
1975 - Bongo Fury (with Captain Beefheart)