American blues-oriented guitarist and exponent of the 'bottleneck' style of slide-guitaring.
Cotton moved with his parents to the bleak desert town of Lancaster in 1962, where a post-war industry in aircraft development was flourishing and the local plant would eventually become Edwards Air Force base. Cotton, like many of the disaffected teenagers at Antelope Valley High School, had his sights set on gentle rebellion, long hair & music. He was a member of High-school band 'The Balladiers'.
Cotton began his career with Merrell Fankhauser, who's parents had also moved to Lancaster, and formed the Exiles with drummer John French. When Fankhauser departed for the west coast Cotton & French eventually teamed up with Mark Boston and Bill Harkleroad in 'Blues In A Bottle', which was just one of the 'car-club' gig bands like 'Rising Sons (2)' around at the time. These productive connections led to Cotton becoming a member of Captain Beefheart And His Magic Band shortly after the the Mount Tamalpas incident, which led to the departure of Ry Cooder and short-term stand-in of Jerry McGee [Gerry McGee]. In the 'Magic Band' Cotton was given the title 'Antennae Jimmy Semens' by Don Van Vliet, a nickname with which he is credited on the seminal Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band* - Trout Mask Replica album.
Further conflicts arose within the group upon the album's release and Cotton moved on. He reunited with Fankhauser in 1970 and became part of the creation of Mu (7). Disillusioned with the music industry, Cotton eventually found his calling in Christian ministry.
Footnote: Cotton was also cast by Frank Zappa in the FZ 'teenage opera' script for "Captain Beefheart Vs The Grunt People" as the character Cecil Sweeney - dumb nephew of the story's janitor-scientist Bob Guy, aka Billy Sweeney.