(photo: Patrick Brayer)
Included below is a song I wrote in honor of my friend Ray Collins. As a musician with Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention he was legendary. As a humble street personage around the college town of Claremont, California, a Mount Rushmore of Karl Marx, Moses, General Custer, and Santa Claus, he daily gave Birkenstock life lessons to us all, and to me will always stand as a benchmark in zen heroic non-materialism. “You are only as wealthy as you act”, he once told me. The lyric sort of sketches my feelings and the frozen event in which I found him comatose in his Chevy Astro, in one of those herringbone parking spaces, directly in front of the Claremont City Library. It was amazing how he just seemed to be sitting serenely in perfect balance in the driver’s seat. Some uneaten fruit awaited on the dashboard as, like him, a humble posthumous feast. When I came afterwards to check on him at Pomona Hospital I brought him a statue of General Lee, in hopes to to make him laugh as soon as he regained consciousness. Although that wasn’t meant to be, I said a farewell to him and headed out to Alabama for Christmas. I sat to write the song on Christmas day there just after hearing the news of his death from my friend, and noted columnist, and Collins champion, David Allen, of The Daily Bulletin. When I arrived home we were Rayless. I’ve also include below a link to him singing “Anything” from the Ruben and the Jets LP, which I think establishes him without a doubt as one of the greatest white soul voices of his time.