Sherwood and Zappa met in high school in 1956. Sherwood was in a class with Zappa's brother Bobby, who introduced the two after learning that Sherwood was a collector of blues records. Sherwood sat in with Zappa's first band, R&B group The Black-Outs, at various performances, where he was often a highlight:
|“||...he did this weird dance called 'The Bug', where he pretended that some creature was tickling the fuck out of him, and he rolled around on the floor, trying to pull it off. When he 'got it off', he threw it at girls in the audience, hoping that they would flop around on the floor too. A few of them did. — Frank Zappa||”|
Sherwood and Zappa subsequently played together in Ontario, in rock'n'roll/R&B group The Omens. After Zappa's first marriage began to break up in 1964, he bought local producer Paul Buff's Pal Recording Studio, renaming it "Studio Z", and he and Sherwood lived in the studio for a time. Sherwood first joined The Mothers of Invention as a roadie and equipment manager, also contributing sound effects (using both his voice and saxophone) to their first album, 1966's Freak Out! He became a full member around the time of the group's experimental residence at the Garrick Theater in 1968, of which future bandmate Ruth Underwood, then an audience member, recalls that "there were some nights that you just heard pure music, and other nights, Motorhead'd be talking about fixing his car, with Jim Black's drum beat in the background".[attribution needed]
Zappa disbanded the original Mothers line-up in 1969. Sherwood was one of several members that would play for him again in subsequent years, appearing on 1981's You Are What You Is, the Läther box set, and the last album Zappa completed before his death, Civilization Phaze III. In 1973, Sherwood played on For Real!, the first album of Los Angeles doo-wop group Ruben and the Jets, who Zappa had granted permission to use the name of his fictional group, also producing the record and contributing arrangements and the song "If I Could Only Be Your Love Again". Allmusic's Bruce Eder notes the record's "beautifully crafted breaks on sax" by Sherwood and Robert "Buffalo" Roberts. Ruben and the Jets toured in support of Zappa on the West Coast in 1972 and produced one other album, but split after lead singer Rubén Guevara was offered a solo recording contract. There were also financial difficulties, Sherwood noting that the group played "too many benefits and not enough paying gigs".
The nickname "Motorhead" was coined by fellow Mothers member Ray Collins, who observed that Sherwood always seemed to be working on repairing cars, trucks or motorcyles, and joked that "it sounds like you've got a little motor in your head". Sherwood was also occasionally credited as his alter ego "Larry Fanoga" or as "Fred Fanoga".
With the Mothers of Invention
- Freak Out! (Verve, 1966)
- Absolutely Free (Verve, 1967)
- We're Only in It for the Money (Verve, 1967)
- Cruising with Ruben & the Jets (Verve, 1968)
- Uncle Meat (Bizarre, 1969)
- Burnt Weeny Sandwich (Bizarre, 1970)
- Weasels Ripped My Flesh (Bizarre, 1970)
- Ahead of Their Time (Rykodisc, 1993)
With Frank Zappa
- Lumpy Gravy (Verve, 1967)
- You Are What You Is (Barking Pumpkin, 1981)
- You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore (sampler) (Rykodisc, 1988)
- You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 1 (Rykodisc, 1988)
- You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 4 (Rykodisc, 1991)
- You Can't Do That on Stage Anymore, Vol. 5 (Rykodisc, 1992)
- Civilization Phaze III (Barking Pumpkin, 1994)
- Läther (Rykodisc, 1996)
- Mystery Disc (Rykodisc, 1998)
- The MOFO Project/Object (Zappa, 2006)
With Ruben and the Jets
With The Grandmothers
- Grandmothers (Line, 1981)
- Lookin' Up Granny's Dress (Rhino, 1982)
- A Mother of an Anthology (One Way, 1993)
- Snorks & Wheezes (K7, 1993)
- The @x!#*% of.... (K7, 1993)
- With My Favorite "Vegetables" and Other Bizarre Music (Divine, 1994)
- Lunar Musik (Divine Records, 1995)
With Don Preston
- Vile Foamy Ectoplasm (Muffin, 1993)
With Sandro Oliva
- Who the Fuck Is Sandro Oliva?!? (Muffin, 1995)
- 200 Motels (1971)
- Video from Hell (1985)
- Uncle Meat (1987)
- The True Story of Frank Zappa's 200 Motels (1989)
- ^ a b c James, Billy (1998). Necessity Is...: The Early Years of Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention. SAF Publishing Ltd. (London). ISBN 0-946-71951-9.
- ^ a b Zappa, Frank; Occhiogrosso, Peter (1989). The Real Frank Zappa Book. Poseidon Press (New York). ISBN 0-671-70572-5.
- ^ Miles, Barry (2004). Frank Zappa. Atlantic Books (London). pp. 82–83. ISBN 1-843-54092-4.
- ^ a b Eder, Bruce. "For Real! > Review". Allmusic. Retrieved on July 12, 2009.
- ^ Couture, François. "Lumpy Gravy > Credits". Allmusic.Retrieved on July 13, 2009.