Have you ever heard the long version of the Iron Butterfly classic In-a-gadda-da-vida? Did you find yourself really enjoying that drum solo? Thank Ron Bushy.
Ron Bushy was born in Washington, DC on December 23, 1945. His was a mobile existence, being part of a military family, living in approximately 34 states during his upbringing. I imagine after the first 20 or so moves, who bothers counting anymore.
Bushy started his love affair with drums in college, an affair which has brought him respect and fame from rock enthusiasts. Bushy, along with lead man/vocalist Doug Ingle formed Iron Butterfly in San Diego in 1966. The band made the move to Los Angeles where it played the club scene and gained a recording contract. Subsequent exposure as an opener for The Doors and Jefferson Airplane garnered the band national attention. The band broke out in 1968 with their first album entitled Heavy, which it definitely was. The band became an embodiment of acid rock/progressive/proto metal music. After some personnel changes the band recorded their landmark hit In-a-gadda-da-vida later that same year. The song, though an astounding 17:05 long, rocketed to popularity. A large part of that popularity was Ron Bushy's drum solo, which lasts for just 2:30, followed by an extended organ solo.
Drum solos, rare enough to be notable, were generally exhibitions of the drummer's chops, showing his speed and virtuosity. Bushy's solo, in contrast, was a much simpler tribal sound, driving and insinuating itself into the listeners bones and psyche. It became an instantly identifiable riff, something rare indeed in the universe of drummers.
Commercial radio at the time was shackled by a short format (about 3 minutes in length) standard for music. It was unthinkable to play a song over 17 minutes long. In-a-gadda-da-vida exploded that standard due to fan demand. Though never a staple in its long version, it did occasionally make the grade and get airplay. Contrary to industry expectations, life on Earth did not cease to exist. A shortened version was produced to mollify nervous radio production types. In-a-gadda-da-vida has joined other rock epics such as Stairway To Heaven in the FM radio panoply of super hits.
The song sold over four million copies and camped out in the Top 10 listing for over a year. It caused the creation of the Platinum Record Award, given to recordings which sell over 1 million copies. It is currently a multi-platinum winner.
Iron Butterfly followed up with Ball, which also went gold. The album name was prophetic, and like a ball the band started downhill and broke up in 1971. Later that decade Bushy and band co-member Erik Braunn tried to resurrect the group with limited success. That effort lasted from 1974-1985.Iron Butterfly refused to die, with another incarnation resurfacing in 1987 until the present day.
Bushy was drummer for other bands, most notably Magic as well as Gold.
Ron Bushy currently resides in Los Angeles.