Iron Butterfly came out of San Diego in the latter part of the 60's with a song that helped to usher in the era of acid rock. They had albums that sold very well, but it was their recording of In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida -- the group's only top forty record -- that ensured them a secure place in the pantheon of heavy metal music.
The group was formed in San Diego in 1966 and originally consisted of Darryl DeLoach on vocals, Doug Ingle on keyboards, guitarist Danny Weiss, Jerry Penrod on bass and drummer Ron Bushy. By 1968 they had signed a record deal with Atco, a subsidiary of Atlantic Records. Within a year they released the band's first album, Heavy.
Iron Butterfly played in the bars along the Sunset Strip in Los Angeles. They toured with some bands that were beginning to become very well known in the late 60's such as the Doors, Jefferson Airplane, Traffic and the Grateful Dead. DeLoach, Penrod and Weiss left Iron Butterfly and were replaced by Erik Braunn on guitar and vocals and Lee Dorman on bass.
It was this lineup that went back in the studio in the summer of 1968 and recorded the next album, titled In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida. The entire second side of the album contained Ingle's song by the same name, and at seventeen minutes and five seconds, it was quite long by the standards of the day and certainly not suitable for top forty AM radio. The song featured a drum solo by Ron Bushy that would become legendary, although it was cut out of the version that was edited down in length for play on AM. Along with other groups such as Blue Cheer and Steppenwolf, Iron Butterfly had helped to launch heavy metal music.
What about the unique title of In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida? There is a story, very likely untrue, that when Doug Ingle sang the song he was slurring the words that were supposed to be sung, In the Garden of Eden. A more likely explanation is that drummer Ron Bushy misheard what Ingle had said through headphones, and simply noted it as In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida. The album remained on the charts for an incredible 140 weeks, holding on in the top ten for most of that period. As a single, it charted for seven weeks and reached a peak position of number 30. Within a year Iron Butterfly released the band's third album Ball, which sold so well that it went to number one on the album chart. Subsequent albums Live and Metamorphosis also did very well.
Braunn left the group in 1969 and was replaced by Mike Pinera, who had been with the band Blues Image, and Larry Reinhardt. Braunn joined with DeLoach and Penrod to form Flintwhistle. Iron Butterfly disbanded in 1971. The group had done its part to usher in the transition from psychedelia to heavy metal, and other groups with even more appeal would follow in their wake in the 70's, groups such as Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin.
Since its release the album In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida has sold upwards of 25 million copies. Iron Butterfly's 1968 classic In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida has been featured in numerous television shows and movies over the years. It is a song that many identify with the changing music scene of the late 60's.
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