Backpedal: RIP, Ray Collins...

The italicized portion of the post below was originally published as part of a Slow Sunday Scenes from July 2010, the first time I had an opportunity to talk to Mr. Ray Collins, Claremont's unofficial Village Greeter. It wasn't anything I though I would ever reprint, but I was saddened this morning to read in the Los Angeles Times about Ray's passing suddenly over the holidays.

The humidity around here has certainly spiked today, and after yesteday's long ride, I figured a Slow Sunday was in order. So without further ado, let the photos roll.

This is Ray, or actually the back of Ray's head. For as long as I have lived in Claremont I have seen this gentleman in the Village on the weekends, but have never had the opportunity to speak with him, or find out his story. Well, today I was fortunate enough to share a bench with him, and let me tell you, everyone knows Ray. People walking by would all say "hi, Ray". Some would stop to talk for a while. I found out that Ray Collins, who is still a musician played guitar with Frank Zappa in the Mothers of Invention. If you click on this link it will take you to a nice little interview from last year (2009). Now I can be one of the many who say hello to him on the weekends.

In most ways, this is one of those occasional non-bike-related (NBR) posts, however if you have ever ridden into the Village for coffee, or breakfast on a weekend morning, it is likely that you crossed paths with Ray at one point or another; he was a literal fixture especially on the weekends. In the middle years of the 1960s Ray Collins was lead singer in his band, the Soul Giants, when he brought in a new lead guitarist from nearby Rancho Cucamonga - Frank Zappa. With Zappa on board, the band quickly morphed into the Mothers of Invention. Collins sang as lead vocal, until he quit the band in 1968 in an apparent dispute over the direction that on-stage performances were taking. Ray took up residence in Claremont in 1991 and became one of the most familiar faces about town. Rest in Peace Mr. Collins; we will miss seeing you about.