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Ruth Underwood

AKA Ruth Komanoff

Born: 23-May-1946

Gender: Female
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Drummer

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Whirlwind percussionist for Frank Zappa

A percussionist of staggering viruosity, Ruth Underwood began her music training in the classical tradition, studying both at Ithaca College under Warren Benson and at Juilliard. Throughout 1967, she kept a regular attendance at the Garrick Theater in New York City when Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention was the resident band, resulting in her membership as a Mother beginning in 1968.

Ruth went on to augment over 10 Zappa/Mothers recordings with her talents, dispatching marimba passages that would plunge most percussionists into despair with effortless grace and precision. Particular examples of this can be heard on such tracks as St. Alphonso's Pancake Breakfast, from the Apostrophe (') album (1973). Equally impressive work is documented on Roxy & Elsewhere (1974) and One Size Fits All (1975). Some glimpses of Ruth in action can be seen in the Zappa movie 200 Motels (1969) and the film of the Roxy performance.

Sessions for a small number of other performers were undertaken by Ms. Underwood during the 70s, most notably the band Ambrosia and jazz-keyboardist George Duke. By some accounts (which are vague), she was retired from music by the beginning of 1980, concentrating instead on her family. However, one final session for Zappa was undertaken in 1993, shortly before his death from cancer in December.

Brother: Charles Komanoff
Husband: Ian Underwood (musician, m. 1970, div.)

    The Mothers of Invention Percussionist (1968-76)

    200 Motels (10-Nov-1971) · Fake Drummer

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