Bob Smith writes ...
Anyone familiar with Iron Butterfly will recognize that as the bands most recognized song , clocking in at an astounding 17 minutes in it’s unedited form. But first things first. The early prog rock group Iron Butterfly formed in 1966 following the various band members stints in other groups prior to forming Iron Butterfly.
The original lineup of Doug Ingle, Jack Pinney, Darryl DeLoach , Greg Willis , and Danny Weis would begin their newfound band using the DeLoach family garage as their practice studio with the young band practicing regularly. The name Iron Butterfly was chosen as first the word “Iron” was to describe their heavier sound and “Buttefly” as the hippie culture was quite prominent at the time, the band hoping to appeal to both segments of society.
Time would pass and they would find themselves relocated to Los Angeles to further their pursuit of a career as a band which led to regular appearances at several local clubs as the house band. Lineup changes would begin early on for the band and over time would continue to be a regular part of life for Iron Butterfly.
Following the move both Jack Pinney and Danny Willis opted to leave the band opening the door for their replacements Jerry Penrod, Bruce Morse to join. Morse’s tenure with the band would be short lived with him being replaced by Ron Bushy .
Slowly the band became recognized and would find themselves landing a recording contract with Atco records in early 1968, a promising start for the fledgling band. A wealth of material had been amassed by the band since it’s inception and material was culled to produce an album slated for release in 1968.
Following internal tensions all of the band members opted to quit the band before the album was released leaving only Ron Bushy and Doug Ingle to carry the Iron Butterfly name. Lee Dorman and Erik Brann were brought on as replacements and the band went on tour in support of their album titled “ Heavy”.
Interestingly, Jeff Beck, Neil Young and Michael Monarch (Steppenwolf) all had expressed interest in joining the band before Erik Brann was selected. 1968 would see things looking up for the band as they went on tour with Jefferson Airplane that summer and things were looking up. With the changes in lineup came a change in the groups sound, the music became heavier, harder hitting and quickly won the band favour with crowds.
Early 1969 would see the group release their second album titled “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida ” which of course contained the seminal classic “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida "". The song came into being quite accidentally unbeknownst to most, before appearing on the album.
One day while waiting for the producer for their upcoming album “ Ball” the band was instructed by the sound engineer to play something . As history has shown the band began playing a song that Doug Ingle had written, improvising as they played. The song was recorded originally as a sound check but following the completion of the song it was decided that it was pretty good albeit a bit long and it made the album.
Here is an excerpt from Mix magazine with an interview with Ron Bushy ;
“The engineer just ran the tape and said, "Why don't you run through something and we'll get the balance here on the stuff. Run it through one time." I didn't want to think about it. When those red lights are on, a lot of times it will screw me up. I couldn't see them from where I was.' As the band stormed through the song, Ingle started wondering what was going on: 'We were like, 'Is this guy dense? How much time does he need?' So after we finished, he said 'come on in guys, I'd like you to hear this.' [The engineer] Don Casale... had captured the song on the first take. They immediately overdubbed the vocal and the guitar solo, and the song was complete
The song was a hit and earned the group a gold record later in 1968 selling well over three million copies. Iron Butterfly had arrived. The band would set about working on their third album and were scheduled to play at Woodstock but come the day the band was due to fly out to Woodstock to perform , the promised helicopter kept being a no show at La Guardia airport where they band waited.
Various accounts of why and how this occurred abound but reality was Iron Butterfly missed out on the biggest show of their careers which did the band no favours. The song In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida set a level of expectations for the band that they simply could not replicate.
By the end of 1969 would see Eric Brann opt to leave the band for personal reasons , followed by Doug Ingle in 1971. The band began to follow a different sound that their past efforts frustrating Eric Brann whom desired a harder sound for the group.
Doug Ingle also unhappy with the new direction the band appeared to be headed musically as well as burned out by touring, opted to leave. The band soldiered on with replacements brought onboard as needed with each change affecting the group in various ways.
Spring of 1971 would see the band embroiled in a battle with the government regarding taxes owed amidst other issues within the group decided to disband. 1974 would see Eric Brann and Ron Bushy resurrect the band with a new lineup and released two albums that year, neither of which performed well.
The fans were not receptive to the new lineup and thus change in sound. The group would continue on for the latter 1970’s slowly seeing their popularity dwindle, with tours giving way to playing clubs, a slow but steady descent downhill.
The band continued on in various formations over the ensuing years, never seeing the same level of excitement and acceptance they saw with In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida . Oh, the song name came from someone scribbling what was supposed to be “ In The Garden of Eden” onto paper then it being mistaken for what we all are now so familiar with, In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” . So a classic named quite by accident, imagine that..
For the dedicated, a list of members ;
Ron Bushy - drums, percussion (1966-77, 1978-79, 1982, 1987-88, 1993-2012, 2015-present)
Eric Barnett – guitar, vocals (1995-2002, 2015–present)
Martin Gerschwitz - keyboards, vocals (2005–2012, 2018–present)
Michael Green – percussion, vocals (2015–present)
Dave Meros – bass, vocals (2015–present; substitute - 2006)
Ray Weston – drums, percussion (2015–present; substitute - 2010)
Doug Ingle – organ, vocals (1966–71, 1978–79, 1983–85, 1987–88, 1994–99)
Danny Weis – guitar (1966-1967)
Jack Pinney – drums, percussion (1966)
Greg Willis – bass (1966)
Darryl DeLoach – tambourine, vocals (1966-1967)
Jerry Penrod – bass, backing vocals (1966-1967)
Bruce Morse – drums, percussion (1966)
Lee Dorman – bass, vocals (1967–71, 1977–78, 1978–85, 1987-2012)
Erik Brann – guitar, vocals (1967–69, 1974–77, 1978–79, 1979–80, 1982, 1987, 1987–89)
Mike Pinera - guitar, vocals (1970-1972, 1978-1979, 1982, 1987, 1993)
Larry "Rhino" Reinhardt – guitar (1969–71, 1977–78, 1978–79, 1981–84, 1988–93)
Philip Taylor Kramer – bass, keyboards, vocals (1974–77)
Howard Reitzes – keyboards, vocals (1974-1975)
Bill DeMartines – keyboards, vocals (1975-1977, 1987)
Kevin Karamitros – drums (1977-1978)
Jimi Henderson – vocals (1977-1978)
Larry Kiernan – keyboards (1977-1978)
David Love – guitar (1977-1978)
John Leimsider – keyboards (1978, 1979, 1981-1982)
Keith Ellis – bass (1978)
Bobby Caldwell – drums, percussion (1979, substitute 1984)
Bobby Hasbrook – guitar, vocals (1979-1982)
Nathan Pino – keyboards (1979)
Zam Johnson – drums, percussion (1980)
Tim Kislan – keyboards (1980)
Starz Vanderlocket – percussion, vocals (1980)
Luke – percussion, vocals (1981-1982, 1982-1983)
Jimmy Rock – drums (1981-1982)
Randy Skirvin – guitar, vocals (1981-1982)
Guy Babylon – keyboards (1982-1983)
Jan Uvena – drums, percussion (1982)
John Shearer – drums (1982-1983)
Jerry Sommers – drums, percussion (1983)
Rick Rotante – drums, percussion (1983-1984)
Lenny Campanero – drums (1984-1985)
Steve Fister – guitar, backing vocals (1984-1985)
Kurtis Teal – bass (1985)
Kelly Reubens – bass (1987)
Tim Von Hoffman – keyboards (1987)
Glen Rappold – guitar, bass, vocals (1987)
Ace Baker – keyboards (1987)
Sal Rodriguez – drums (1987, 1988)
Jim Von Buelow – guitar (1987)
Bob Birch – bass (1987)
Doug Jackson – guitar (1987)
Lyle T. West – vocals (1987)
Derek Hilland – keyboards, backing vocals (1988-1990, 1993-1997; substitute - 2003)
Kenny Suarez – drums, percussion (1988-1992)
Steve "Mick" Feldman – vocals (1988-1990)
Robert Tepper – vocals (1990-1992)
Burt Diaz – keyboards (1993)
Denny Artache – guitar, vocals (1993)
Doug Bossey – guitar (1994-1995)
Damian Bujanda – keyboards, vocals (1999)
Larry Rust – keyboards, vocals (1999-2005)
Charlie Marinkovich – guitar, vocals (2002-2012)
Phil Parlapiano – keyboards, vocals (2015-2018, substitute - 2012)
Manny Bertematti – drums, percussion (substitute - 1971)
Donny Vosburgh - drums (guest - 1987)
Doug Freedman - drums, percussion (substitute - 1989)
JoAnne Kurman-Montana – backing vocals (live - 1989)
Cecelia Noel – backing vocals (live - 1989)
Oly Larios - bass (substitute - 2001)
Ken Chalupnik – bass (substitute - 2006)