james 'birdlegs' youmans

James 'Birdlegs' Youmans played bass for Frank Zappa in 1974. He toured and recorded with Zappa.

Around the time that he played with Zappa, he was also in a band called Kudzu. Afterwards, he played with Flossy May and with Fox.

James Youmans also has various solo albums: a rock one, a country one and even a christmas album, all on Big Egg Records. His latest solo albums are all gospel albums.

Somewhere in the nineties, James built a recording studio in the Conyers/Covington GA. area know as the 'Bird's Nest Recording Studio'. 

website: www.theolivebranchgroup.com

The picture on the right is taken from Bird's brother's website over at






frank zappa and the mothers of invention: one size fits all
   (1975, lp, usa, discreet)


frank zappa: studio tan
   (1978, lp, usa, discreet)


frank zappa: sleep dirt
   (1979, lp, usa, discreet)

  frank zappa: the guitar world according to frank zappa
    (1987, mc, usa, ??)


frank zappa: läther
   (1996, 3cd, usa, ryko)
1 james youmans: ?? [a rock album]
    (????, ??, usa, big egg records)
2  james youmans: ?? [a country album]
    (????, ??, usa, big egg records)
3 james youmans: ?? [a christmas album]
    (????, ??, usa, big egg records)
  beats: up until now
    (1994, cd, usa, gear) - feat. james youmans
4 bird youmans: how beautiful heaven must be!
    (1997, cd, usa, olive branch records)
5 bird youmans: gospel ship
    (1997, cd, usa, olive branch records)
6 bird youmans: turn your radio on
    (1998, cd, usa, olive branch records)
7 bird youmans: lord build me a cabin in the corner of gloryland
    (1999, cd, usa, olive branch records)
8 bird youmans: angel band
    (2002, cd, usa, olive branch records)
  bird youmans: i've got some big shoes to fill
    (200?, cd, usa, olive branch records)
  bird youmans: birds christmas in dixie
    (200?, cd, usa, olive branch records)

random notes

     From: Patrick Neve (splat#darkwing.uoregon.edu)
The picture above is the only photograph of James Youmans that I know about.  James is standing just behind Frank, playing the bass.  This pic, (which has been
cropped) was taken at a Nov. 74 concert in Naperville by Dave Habecker, and forwarded to me by Pat Buzby.  This is the lineup which included both Tom Fowler and James Youman, who had been hired to replace Fowler after he had broken his arm.  Just before James Youman, Michael Urso also sat in on bass for at least one show.

In 1998 he won an Independent Reviewers of New England Award for Best Set Design for the play "The Shaughran".

According to Charles Ulrich's Planet of My Dreams, James played the following shows with the Mothers:

...and perhaps:

     From: James Diesel (jdeesel@bellsouth.net)
I always thought Jimmy Youmans`"No My Fingers Got Stuck" in his Southern Drawl
was so cool...James Youmans played here in Atlanta in a killer group named Kudzu all through the `70`s...He was a great musician (Keyboards,Bass and guitar)...I actually got to see him a few times in a small bar near my home called THE STONE PONY....not to long after OSFA came out...I was always amazed that I could drive down the street and see someone who had played with Frank Zappa.....

He kinda disappeared in the `80s here in Atlanta.....I don`t know if James is still in music or not...If I hear anything I`ll let you know.

-James Diesel

     From: "Youmans, E. Mick" (EMYOUMAN@southernco.com)

I am "Bird's" younger brother.  I saw your comments above on the internet and thought I would give you an update.  After 'Zappa' and 'Kudzu', Bird played with 'Flossy May'  (which I had the pleasure of playing guitar in with my brother) and 'Fox'.  Since then Bird has played solo (90's) and built a recording studio in the Conyers/Covington GA. area know as the 'Bird's Nest Recording Studio'.  Bird has recorded four solo projects performing all parts (vocals, keyboards, drums, banjo, steel guitar, mandolin, guitar, and bass) on each song except for some backing vocals by Anita Bray and Carol Westbrook.  I did some lead guitar, slide, and dobro solo's for him too.  In addition to his studio he has a group with Anita, Carol, and my other brother Ken.  They are called 'Joyful Noise'.  They are currently working on their first album together.

    From Birdlegs
    January 2004

I filled in for Frank's bass player (Tom Fowler) in 1974 when he broke a finger while on tour.  It was fast and furious but wonderful fun and quite challenging.  I was fortunate enough to cut some tracks with him at Caribou Studios near Neaderlands Colorado.  Some of the tracks were used on the one size fits all and the Laether (Spelling?) albums.  I don't know if any are on other albums or not.  Frank was a work a holic like myself, and we spent a lot of after hours at caribou in the studio.  It was great to work with one of the great masters of our time.  The world doesn't yet fully know his genious.  It was obscured by the "pop" (If you can call it that) stuff he had to do to pay the bills.  How would one pay the bills writing orchestral music these days?  I hope his good stuff someday will get played.

After years of playing every kind of music you can think of, I finally returned to my roots (My Dad was a Baptist Preacher) and since 1997 I only perform gospel music.  My style oddly enough is mountain gospel since I use and play mostly acoustic instruments.  After so many years of high decibel music I've come to love the quiter instruments, tho the music is still up beat.

In 1997 I realease two CD's - How Beautiful Heaven Must Be, and Gospel Ship.  In 1998 I released my third CD, Turn Your Radio On.  In 1999 I then release Lord Build Me A Cabin In The Corner Of Gloryland and then in 2002 my fifth CD was titled Angel Band.  More information is available at my website, theolivebranchgroup.com.  I still perform more that 100 dates a year.

I have an incredible 48 track fully automated studio in Covington, GA where I produce and record mostly gospel music for myself and many others.  God has truly blessed me since I "made my way back home!"

Hope this helps in some way.

Yours truly,

-- Birdlegs

From B. Phypers
2011 01

I saw Frank Zappa in Cleveland 1974. The concert was at the Cleveland Public Hall, not the Richfield Coliseum as noted in United Mutations.

Two reasons I remember this.

1. Tom Fowler's arm was broken and he didn't play. He did however point to notes on a music stand for the fill in bass player who may have been James Youmans.

2. This concert was postponed from an earlier date by a snowstorm.

frank zappa  / musicians timeline



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