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Why did Ruth Underwood leave The Mothers, in early 1975?

Discussion in 'Music Corner' started by ParloFax, Dec 1, 2010.

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  1. ParloFax

    ParloFax Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I have always found this strange, after just two years, given how dedicated - devoted! - she was to Frank Zappa's music and how Zappa himself seemed proud and appreciative of her virtuosity and commitment. Her own husband of then Ian Underwood had quit a little over a year before that with the words "Seven years with the Mothers of Invention is enough for anybody". George Duke also left that super line-up, a little later than Ruth, but like Ian U. he had also been with Zappa for a good while and we know that he was ready by then to pursue a solo (and duo with Stanley Clarke) career in soul-fusion. He was already from the jazz world before joining Zappa, and sometimes "in between", so we guess that at that point he was missing that world and was becoming tired of the RnR world.

    Ruth Underwood would later do several studio sessions for Frank, and very near his demise, even got invited to do percussion sampling work too, at the Zappas'. So they hadn't fallen out either.

    It seems none of the books I've read ever mentionned anything about this departure, of consequence to Zappa's music of this era.
     
    micheal kopfer likes this.
  2. davmar77

    davmar77 I'd rather be drummin'...

    Location:
    clifton park,ny
    two years on the road is quite enough for many. time to move on? raise a family?
     
  3. rstamberg

    rstamberg Senior Member

    Location:
    Riverside, CT
    I have no idea why Ruth left, but this is my opportunity to say how awesome her playing is throughout her tenure with Frank. She rules! Boy would I love to see the oft-promised ROXY & ELSEWHERE footage we've been promised off and on through the years by the ZFT ...
     
  4. PIGGIES

    PIGGIES Forum Resident

    Location:
    UK
    Interesting post, I don't really recall reading any such reason for Ruth's departure (she does appear on Zoot Allures & Zappa in NY), but thinking on it, the whole band pretty much departed in '75, with only Napoleon Murphy Brock sticking around until '76.
     
  5. ParloFax

    ParloFax Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Oh yes! Imagine if we get "Big Swifty" in there!!

    Anybody should check her account (video) of how Zappa managed to have her reluctantly get her marimba amplified. THIS is funny... and precious for me too, because I had never realized before that how big a deal it was to have (wooden) keyboard percussions sound good within a big touring rock group...
     
  6. pbuzby

    pbuzby Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago, IL, US
    After Ian left the band she had an affair with one of Zappa's crew guys on the road and the marriage with Ian broke up. As far as I know this is the main reason.

    After that she found another guy and became a full-time mom, again as far as I know.
     
  7. Hot Ptah

    Hot Ptah Forum Resident

    Location:
    Kansas City, MO
    Whatever the reason, the band I saw in the fall of 1974 (George Duke, Ruth Underwood, Napolean Murphy Brock, Tom Fowler, Chester Thompson) was a lot better than the band I saw in the fall of 1975 (Norma Jean Bell, Napolean Murphy Brock, Andre Lewis, Roy Estrada, Terry Bozzio).
     
    LuLu Reed and showtaper like this.
  8. conniefrancis

    conniefrancis New Member

    Location:
    Brookfield, OH
    Time to insert a Grateful Dead joke here: Because the drugs wore off?


    :hide:
     
    Fullbug likes this.
  9. rstamberg

    rstamberg Senior Member

    Location:
    Riverside, CT
    Too random.
     
  10. Lord Hawthorne

    Lord Hawthorne Currently Untitled

    Location:
    Portland, Oregon
    Zappa was known to fire musicians who came to work stoned.
     
  11. Bill Camarata

    Bill Camarata Listening When Possible

    Location:
    Cleveland, OH, USA
    Nobody could play Zappa's music properly on drugs. Shame. I can't tell you how many times I've heard people lump Zappa fans and Dead fans in the same camp. No comparison whatsoever.

    I heard that she left to be domestic and raise her family. Don't know anything about her and Ian breaking up.
     
  12. gd0

    gd0 Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies

    Location:
    Golden Gate
    Went for laugh. Failed. Keep hiding.

    Nearly nothing is known about RU. Apparently determined to stay out of the spotlight, barring the occasional Zappa-related interview.

    Vague stories emerge on the interblogs – orchestral work, grade school music instructor, soccer mom, married/unmarried (never heard of an "affair" until today) – but none of it confirmed by the woman herself.

    She is certainly the Mystery Woman of the Zappa Universe.

    But the one thing of which we do have evidence: she was a player supreme.

    On Ruth.

    On Ruth.

    A-ha! That's Ruth.
    .
     
    rstamberg likes this.
  13. davmar77

    davmar77 I'd rather be drummin'...

    Location:
    clifton park,ny
    i saw the line up with ruth several times. what an amazing unit they were. the 5/73 nassau coliseum show with leo kottke and the original mahavishnu orch was incredible.
     
  14. karmicg

    karmicg Forum Resident

    Location:
    new york
    I am a huge fan of both, but when given a choice on Halloween 1980 to see Zappa at the Palladium or the Dead at Radio City, it was an easy choice to pick Frank. Probably in the minority among my Deadhead brothers though!
     
  15. Rfreeman

    Rfreeman Forum Resident

    Location:
    Lawrenceville, NJ
    This is really an overstatement. There is zappa music and there is zappa music, there are drugs and there are drugs. Nobody could play the Black Page well on heroin, plenty of people could play Willie The Pimp well stoned. And I'd bet that some of the performers audible on Return of the Son of Monster Magnet were too strung out to tell their asses from their elbows during the recording session.
     
    ruben lopez likes this.
  16. ParloFax

    ParloFax Forum Resident Thread Starter

    gd0, since we're feeding on rumours... Did I read somewhere that she was or had been in recent times in the percussion section of the Metropolitan Opera?
     
  17. gd0

    gd0 Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies

    Location:
    Golden Gate
  18. liv3evil

    liv3evil Forum Resident

    Location:
    Upstate NY USA
    Ruth is surprisingly candid and emotive on the DrumChannel.com "Drummers of Frank Zappa" DVD, though I haven't watched the whole thing as of yet. Perhaps she talks about leaving? I wouldn't be surprised. At least half (or more) of the DVD is a round-table discussion amongst Bozzio, Wackerman, Thompson, Humphrey and Underwood.

    It's worth locating and watching if you're a fan of hers. Roxy era Zappa is both my favorite in terms of his LP's and also live/band.

    Product description (from Amazon.com):

    Here you can get first-hand accounts of where we came from, how we got the gig, funny stories, and our feelings and insights about the man (Frank Zappa)...We all have wildly diverse backgrounds, and played with him for different lengths of time, under different rules, times, and frameworks spanning a 30-year period...Certainly it was the most challengingly difficult, beautifully different, and poignantly hilarious music any of us had ever encountered! ~Terry Bozzio
     
  19. davmar77

    davmar77 I'd rather be drummin'...

    Location:
    clifton park,ny
  20. conniefrancis

    conniefrancis New Member

    Location:
    Brookfield, OH
    I'm not willing to hide over this difference of opinion....What I was trying to express is though the music is very different for the Dead and Zappa, I like them about the same which is: I like some stuff but find both of those bands bore me live...
     
  21. Cassiel

    Cassiel Sonic Reducer

    Location:
    NYC, USA
    True, but even a cursory listen to Ruth Underwood's playing or watching any of the live footage with her in the band displays a degree of musical precision that would be pretty hard to execute under any sort of influence.
     
  22. Felix Martinez

    Felix Martinez Forum Resident

    Location:
    South Florida
  23. CBC

    CBC Forum Resident

    Location:
    West Coast,USA
  24. pbuzby

    pbuzby Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago, IL, US
    There is a boot from Edinboro May 74 (the brief "10th anniversary tour" where Ruth was absent) where Zappa says "Ruth fell in love on the road and went home to do something about it." He said the same thing once or twice regarding her permanent departure in 75.
     
  25. ParloFax

    ParloFax Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Oh yes! Frank still solos here with a sound and in a style close to the "Hot Rats" era: very rhythmical. Yet, after he switches on the wah-wah, highly melodic and "compositional" too... In other words, exactly how NOT to play a cliche-laden rock style guitar solo!

    But that WHOLE gig is awesome! Elsewhere, there is a piece entitled I think "Farther O'Blivion", where they feature the "Be-Bop Tango". I love, in her solo, how Ruth exposes the melody of the piece so quietly and perfectly. It's like a lesson in music she gives!
     
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