michael 'mike' urso
aka: michael erso
Mike Urso, of Rare Earth, filled in on bass for Zappa when Tom Fowler broke his arm in november of 1974. The only gig that we know for certain that he played was 11-23-74, at Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan. There is a tape of this show, and if Mike Urso played any other dates with Zappa, We don't know about them.
James Youman would shortly replace Urso, and Tom Fowler eventually took over again when his arm healed.
Mike played with Rare Earth from 1971 to 1974, sat in with The Mothers for at least that one date, then a group called HUB from 1975-76, and then Rare Earth again from 1977 to 1983.
i'm unsure as to his present whereabouts. (michael, if you're reading, let us know!) there is a michael urso who co-owns a cabinet shop in new york, but i haven't determined if this is the same person:
there's also a mention of a michael urso as an organist for some modern incarnation of the knights templar:
(all credits for bass and vocals)
cahan / snarfel:
thirty years of andy cahan
(1995, cd, usa, hamana records) - feat. various ex-moi
from Steve Trapani, Mike Urso's brother-in-law, november 2015
My understanding of Mike's time with Zappa begins when he moved to LA from Detroit with a band called Head Over Heels in the late 60's, I believe. The band didn't stay together long, and somehow Mike ended up actually living in the back of Zappa's studio sometime maybe in '71 or '72? Anyhow, it was before he joined Rare Earth in 1972. I also seem to remember Mike said they weren't the Mothers yet, or weren't officially calling it the Mothers of Invention during the time he was with Zappa.
Mike said that he did play and tour with Zappa around that time, and I want to say that he was on the road with Zappa when he got the call to join Rare Earth in 1972. At the time Rare Earth was at a high point of popularity and he had the unbelievable choice of remaining with Zappa or joining a very busy rock band in full swing.
The band broke up, like the United Mutations site says, in July of '74 and Mike, Pete Hoorelbeke, and Tom Baird formed HUB, which ended when Baird was killed in a boating accident in '75.
In any case, that is when United Mutations says Mike joined Zappa, but he had actually known, played, and toured with Frank before that.
recorded with Last Train South