Borderline Latin: The Mothers of Invention

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Borderline Latin is an exploration of the influence of Latin music in styles, places and rhythms beyond its traditional borders, and of different types of cross-pollination between Latin music and other musical creatures. Each week, we will feature a song or musical style whose rhythm, themes, melodic inflections or influences have earned it the name of Borderline Latin.

He was an authentic musical genius – one of the great composers of the 20th century. An arranger and producer, he was also an orchestra conductor by merit and an accomplished guitar player with a depurated technique. In his spare time, he dedicated himself to discovering new talent, bringing people like Steve Vai and Vinnie Colaiuta to the musical spotlight. He was the patriarch and founder of a clan whose members have such incredibly great names as Dweezil, Ahmet, and Moon Unit, and his moustache was truly epic. But as Remezcla’s savvy readers probably know, before Frank Zappa became Frank Zappa, he founded a little band called The Mothers of Invention, and let me tell you: everything about this band is borderline.

The Mothers, as they were originally called, mixed everything from jazz, blues, and complex orchestrations to songs played backwards, long spoken sections, and freaky, weird sounds. Their albums have titles like Freak Out!, Uncle Meat, and We’re Only in It for the Money, which was conceived as a parody of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band and hippie culture in general. California’s own Roy Estrada added a Latin touch, playing bass as well as guitarrón, and doing some vocals.

The Mothers of Invention formed during the 1960s, and had several reincarnations during the 1970s but faded out when Frank Zappa focused on his solo career. During their time, in spite of never really achieving commercial success, they put on great shows and toured America and Europe. Check out this TV appearance, which in spite of Zappa’s obvious leadership, is pure Mothers:

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Click HERE to read more “Borderline Latin” profiles. For comments and tips, please contact me at:, and for more info on my “Borderline” works, visit Borderline Projects.