Uploaded to Aural Innovations: September 2003

Raymond Franks played drums, congas, and various percussion instruments for well over three decades. From the mid-seventies, Raymond played with THE BASTARDS, KIT of SURVIVAL, and the YETI BAND; the latter breaking up on the eve of Ronald Reagan's election as President, in November 1980.

During the early eighties, he was a member of THE MASH JAZZ ENSEMBLE, performing in the New York tri-state area. In the mid-eighties, he stared doing African and Cultural drum and dance ensembles, which lead to live performances with the futuristic-eclectic unit, ALIEN PLANETSCAPES, founded by Doug Walker. Raymond can be heard on several recordings, particularly "The Much Too Much Sessions", recorded during August in 1990.

In the early summer of 1994, Raymond sat in with the MICHAEL EKO BAND, for a complete studio album CD. On top of this, he had his own weekly radio show on WFMU (East Orange, NJ) where he played numerous progressive jazz-rock fusion outfits, both famous and relatively unknown. Shortly thereafter, he joined forces with Sal Pauciello, Peter Minde, and Greg McGhee, forming WIRETAP. Their CD, "Hell Toupee", was released on May 1, 1995. In 1996, after a brief but interesting stint with the band SIXDEE, out of the Bronx, Raymond co-founded THE COMMON GROUND, with Sal and Joe Malgeri. Between mid-1996 and mid-1998 the group recorded material which found its way onto three CD's and numerous tapes. Like the earlier groups Raymond was a part of, much of the material was original, with his compositional skills evident and credited. Original songs such as "Warp Six", "Reggae Heat Wave", "Portal" and "Prelude", displayed his distinctive style. Cover renditions such as Santana's "Moonflower" and Ray Davies "Fancy" revealed his explosiveness and subtleness respectively.

After the breakup of THE COMMON GROUND project, Raymond was read to reconnect to the musical scene with JUNKYARD GENIUS, and experimental outfit formed by Sal Pauciello and Greg McGhee. Unfortunately, a festering battle with cancer sidelined him from both music and his work with the N.Y. Transit Authority. The CD, "The Diary Of Dick Benito", by JUNKYARD GENIUS, was dedicated to him, and released on May 17, 2002. Ray liked the recording very much and missed being apart from the creative process, which was so dear to him. On January 18, 2003, Raymond died from complications of liver cancer at his home in Brooklyn, NY. His special presence is missed by his bandmates and the many people he touched through his creative expression. Rest in peace Raymond.

Sal R. Pauciello & the Folks at Owl Head Man Music

CLICK HERE to read reviews of Common Ground recordings.

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