ricky lancelotti

In the late 1960s, Rick Lancelot sang in a band called Wolfgang. They were managed by (and named after) Bill Graham. Lee Sklar played bass.
He also sang in a band called Sky Oats. They performed the title song of the movie Pacific Vibrations (1970). Jim Keltner was the drummer.

Ricky Lancenlotti recorded with Frank Zappa in 1973. Results of this can be found on "Over-Nite Sensation", "The Lost Episodes" and "Lather".

from the liner notes to Wonderful Wino, The Lost Episodes version:
   "The version of this song is especially notable for the presence of one of the most powerful and disctinctive singers to perform with any Zappa band, the late Ricky Lancelotti.
Said Frank: "He auditioned for the band, passed, went home and got ripped, and broke his arm. I said 'Rick, you're not going to make the tour.'  He used to carry a .45. He had a cassette in which he imitated 100 cartoon voices in 60 seconds. I thought he was really talented. He wanted to get work as a cartoon voice guy, but never did.  O.D.'d.  An old New Jersey tough guy."
At a particularly memorable 1972 Hollywood Palladium MOI concert (of which Zappa held fond recollections of Lancelotti singing 'Smog Sucker", the lion-maned vocalist favored the crowd with ferocious scat-singing whenever FZ was inspired to beckon him from the wings. Frank would open and close his hand in a gesture symbolizing a talking mouth, and Lancelotti would magically appear on stage and begin bellowing."

Ricky Lancelotti passed away on April 7, 1980.



  rick lancelot & peppermint sticks: ain't that soul / sick chick
    (1964, 7", usa, peppermint stick 2000)
  rick lancelot: for you / that's my bag
    (1964, 7", usa, 20th century fox 549) 
  rick lancelot with the 7 knights: say girl / live like a lion
    (1965, 7", usa, rca 1502) 
  rick lancelot: heartbreak train / hoo doo man
    (1965, 7", usa, rca 8564) 
  rick lancelot: live like a lion / homeless heart
    (19??, 7", usa, rca 8680)
  rick lancelot: nobody wants to hear nobody's troubles / happy blues
    (19??, 7", usa, rc 8821)
  rick lancelot: hip-talk song / homestead boy
    (19??, 7", usa, turban 1)
  rick lancelot: you took the words (right out of my heart) / the rebel yell
    (19??, 7", usa, turban 2)


the mothers: over-nite sensation
   (1973, lp, usa, discreet)


frank zappa: the lost episodes
   (1996, cd, usa, ryko)


frank zappa: lšther
   (1996, 3cd, usa, ryko)



[Ricky sang some of the songs, but did not contribute any spoken voices.]


youtube clips


random notes

     From: Jack Shumway

I knew Ricky Lancelotti back in 1978 (he was my room mate). A friend introduced me to Ricky that he met him from work. Ricky was unemployed and needed a place to stay so I let him stay at my apartment in Canoga Park, Ca. for a few months (I am a big FZ fan so I let him sleep on a bed in my living room). I had to move to Santa Barbara to start a new job in July of 1978 so that is when I last saw him (when I moved). A few months later I heard that drove his car off a cliff and died. I believe he was drunk (but not sure). While Ricky was staying with us he told me a lot of interesting stories of his life. Ricky started his singing career in Greenwich Village, New York where he studied music (singing). He had the same singing instructor as Bob Zimmerman. When Ricky would show up for his singing lesson when Dylan was just leaving. He used to hang out with Lenny Bruce, visiting him back stage before Lenny's performance. He told me that Lenny carried two briefcases with him, one loaded with smut magazines and the other loaded with narcotics (prescribed by doctors). Lenny would shoot Methedrine in one arm and Morphine in the other before going on stage. Lenny told Ricky that if he ever got busted (for drugs) that he would take the AMA down with him.
Ricky later moved to LA and as a professional singer he would be a backup
singer for Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. in Las Vegas (he would fill in when they were sick). He later became friends with Frank Zappa. Ricky would hang out with Frank during his recording sessions. After the final mastering of the "Grand Wazoo" (1972) Frank played the recording to all the band members and than asked each person what they thought of it. Each musician he asked thought the recording was excellent. When Frank asked Ricky for his opinion he said "It had no back-beat" (Frank was shocked). Later Ricky sang for Frank on "Overnight Sensation". Ricky asked Frank how he wanted him to sing (50-50, Zomby Woof) and Frank said, "Just act crazy". Ricky's picture was not printed on the album cover along with the other band members because Ricky didn't want his picture on it. During this time period Ricky would drive Frank around in his car (Frank didn't like to drive). Band practice was mostly late at night or after midnight. One night Ricky showed up for practice drunk and Frank told him to "go home and sleep it off" (Frank was paying Rick $80 per hour to sing and didn't tolerate drugs or drinking at work).  Later Frank asked Ricky to go on tour but Ricky refused to tour and dropped out of the band (you had to tour with Frank because that was his main source of income at the time). Ricky's friendship with Frank ended badly because Ricky accused Frank of using him so he could learn how to sing.
Ricky was a bona fide member of "Hip Society" (something that doesn't exist
today). He helped write the song "Don't Bogart that Joint" (pass it over to me).

     From: donna barker

My name is Donna Loguidice Barker.  Ricky is my first cousin.  I was really surprised to see the write up on him.  My dad's sister is Ricky's mom.  We all were born in New Jersey, but moved to California in the early sixties.  Ricky did much more than just sing with Frank Zappa. Back in the early 70's there was a show called the Banana Splits.  Ricky had a contract with Hanna Barbara and did all the lead vocals for the show.  He also made many appearances on TV.  My aunt also told me a story about when the Rolling Stones stayed at their guest  house in Northridge.  I also need to clarify how Ricky died.  It was complications due to a car accident.  He did however, have a very close call when his Porsh went over a cliff in Malibu Canyon. Two different events.  A tree caught the car and he crawled up the side of the canyon. 
I think you are right about Ricky.  He was an incredible talents.  And
he did one hell of a Joe Cocker imitation!!!   I have tons of info about him.  I am now living in Idaho, but my parents are still in CA.
I go back to California several times a year.  I am going in April.  I
will see if I can get some better pictures of him.  My mom has one of him with Bob Hope.  He looked better then the pictures you have on the website. No offence of course, they do fit the times.  I also have pictures of him in my parents wedding.  He was pretty young then.  He idolized my dad. I was 24 when he died.  I am 45 now.  When we first came  to California I was only 7.  I remember going to the Peppermint Twist.  It was a trendy 60's club in  Hollywood.  I could not go at night but I got to go during the day and watch him rehearse.  I loved him very much.  He loved me to.  At that time I thought that was the coolest thing.  I will look into date of birth.  I know he was a Leo.

He has a grown son who is Ricky all over again. I don't remember the exact date of his death.  It was right before Easter Sunday in 1980.  I am pretty sure he was 32. Until now I had not realized how long he has been gone.  My youngest was just 10 months old. I remember  bringing him to Ricky's funeral and holding him he could barley walk.  Ricky is buried in San Fernando California.  At the time it was just him buried there, Now my grandparents are with him.

Our family is full Italian.  Yes Ricky is a deago. Not like his last name didn't give it away.  I know Zappa was too.  Boy did Ricky love to eat.  We used to talk about how we hated the battle of the bulge.  He would say.  The Italian family  always tells you "Manga Gresh" which means eat and grow in Italian.  He said the problem was, they never tell you which way you grow!  I guess you have figured out by now he had a good sense of humor.  I spoke to him about a week before he died.  I had to have a very simple in-patient procedure and called him to apologize about not visiting him while he was in the hospital.  It was one of those things you always regret not doing.   He did not show up for dinner on Easter Sunday at my Grandparents house.  My grandpa went over to see why he had not shown up, he had passed away. Just a clarification.  The family had not been at my grandparents that Easter. It would have been just a small dinner.  My grandparents and Ricky.  He had been in a car accident a week or so earlier and had come home from the hospital, I believe against the Doctors wishes.  There were complications.  He himself told me about the Mailbu Canyon incident.  I remember my mouth was hanging open.  He described how the car was falling over the cliff and he was having a conversation with God.   What the hell else can you do at a time like that?  Then all of a sudden the car just stopped.  I guess the conversation paid off.  A tree caught it.

He really enjoyed telling stories.  We were all raised Catholic.  And one thing I just remembered, Ricky always wore a St. Jude medallion. Look into what St Jude stands for.  He believed in him so much.  And as far as the cartoon voices, he went to the Mel Blanc School of voice.  It was unreal and funnier than shit to hear him do all those voices. I was in high school at the time and a friend of mine was at the house Ricky was preforming (which he loved to do) doing all those voices.  We were just rolling.   Oh well I won't keep going on.  I will get you some dates  for you.  Just curious, who are you and why the interest.  Does this surround Zappa.  Oh yea, Ricky had a wolf.  His name was Little Wolf.  It was just like a dog.  In the 60's he was on Hula Ba Lou it was one of those 60's dance shows.  And I also think the Lloyd Thaxton show. He was on a late night show also.  I think it was Jack Parr before Johnny Carson.  He would also have Little Wolf with him on these TV appearances. I was really little but I remember watching him.  My Aunt Annie, Ricky's mom is still alive.  I will call her and get more specifics.

Its just kind of fun remembering this stuff. It is not difficult or painful for me to talk about Ricky.  It was very sad when he died as is any death of a family member.  It was a great loss I remember so much of the sad stuff.

Ricky was born in New Jersey.  We grew up in a place call Watchung.  Its close to Plainfield.  I should not say we grew up.  Better put, spent younger years there.  Ricky was around 15ish when my aunt and uncle moved to CA. Jumping ahead in years  Ricky also had two Alaskan malamutes. Maugwa and Weetumka.  Weetumka was named after Weetumka Falls in Watchung.
This was the same time he had Little Wolf.  They all used to share a dog
run.  Weetumka used to chase my sister Denise around my Aunts pool.  He was super sweet and playful.

Ricky always talked about back home and  even wrote a song about Watchung.  I am hoping that my dad has that tape.  It was petty cool. Not done in the same voice as Zombi Wolf.  A different side of Ricky. If I recall correctly, it was about his childhood there. Rowing the row boat on Watchung lake.  It was right across from our house we all lived close by each other.  You never get your true home out of you system.  I don't think any of us did for that matter.  He liked to hunt and fish. Not a  Ted Nuggent type.  He just liked it.  He once caught a 7' shark deep sea fishing.  Had it mounted.  It was a real trip.  He had it in the guest house in Northridge I told you about.  He also liked the desert to.  He liked to go there and shoot guns.  Kinda of ties in to what Zappa said about the 45.  I think he liked guns.

I got one more bit of info on Ricky.  This may sound crazy but we know his birthday is in August, but can't remember the date.  My Mom did have a prayer card from Rickys funeral with the date he died.  It was April 7th, 1980.

2009 01 01

In the late 1960s, Rick Lancelot sang in a band called Wolfgang. They were managed by (and named after) Bill Graham. Lee Sklar played bass.
He also sang in a band called Sky Oats. They performed the title song of the movie Pacific Vibrations (1970). Jim Keltner was the drummer.

Discography (all 45s)


[Ricky sang some of the songs, but did not contribute any spoken voices.]

youtube clips

--Charles Ulrich

2009 11 29

from Rick (John) Edwards:


I accidentally found your web site, and was very sad to see that Rick died.

We called him Rick Lancelot. My nickname was Rick too. I though about him from time to time, but didn't know where he was. I used to play bass in a band with him and my brother (Rob Edwards - guitar). We played in clubs in Manhattan Beach and Hermosa Beach. Rick also played with my brother in Sky Oats for the movie called Pacific Vibrations.

Here is a picture of the band. Rick has the furrball hair. Rob is the tall one. Jim Keltner is the drummer (wall next to right) .

Rick liked to do Elton John songs, but we liked things with more driving beats.

For a while we called our band "Universal Rundle" after the name of the toilet maker we read off from the toilet in the restroom of the Players Bar in Manhattan Beach. I remember at one point Rick, in jest I think, suggested calling ourselves the Nazis. He was pretty funny and a pleasure to be around.

-- Rick (John) Edwards



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