Mountain Bassist Felix Pappalardi’s Ex-Wife and Killer Found Dead in Mexico
The tragic tale of Mountain bassist Felix Pappalardi, already one of the more bizarre stories in rock history, has taken what appears to be its last strange turn.
Pappalardi's ex-wife Gail Collins, who infamously served two years of a four-year sentence for criminal negligence after killing Pappalardi with a gunshot to the neck in 1983, has been found dead in a Mexican village where she had apparently "lived as a recluse" while "undergoing experimental cancer treatments." Collins' exact time of death appears to be unknown, but according to the New York Daily News, she was discovered by her landlord on Dec. 6.
Although their marriage ended in violent tragedy, Pappalardi and Collins were once one of the more creatively successful marriages in rock. When he was producing Cream's 'Disraeli Gears' album and helping the band write new material for the record, she contributed lyrics to 'Strange Brew.' After Pappalardi joined Mountain, he and Collins continued to collaborate, co-writing a number of songs in addition to using her artwork for a pair of the band's albums.
In later years, Pappalardi became known for his non-musical proclivities, which included the usual chemical experiments as well as an open marriage with Collins. Her jealousy of one particular mistress reportedly led to the argument that ended in his death, although Collins maintained that she'd shot Pappalardi accidentally while taking a firearms training session. The fact that it happened at 6:00AM didn't dissuade jurors from handing in a surprising verdict, convicting her of criminally negligent homicide rather than murder.
The judge in the case seemed annoyed by the verdict, making a point of reminding jurors, "She called her attorney instead of calling for help -- she was concerned with her own well-being," and giving her the maximum sentence under the law. Paroled in 1985 after serving half of her four-year sentence, Collins disappeared from sight, but judging from the quotes given by her acquaintances to the New York Daily News, she remained just as provocative a personality after exiting the spotlight.
"She was one of the most brilliant people I have ever known, but she was also an opinionated jackass. She just needed to be the star," said one woman described as Collins' friend. Added her neighbor, "She left instructions for her cats to be euthanized so their ashes could be mixed with hers. Who does that?"
Collins, who had been going by her middle name, Delta, was 72 at the time of her passing.