Founding Iron Butterfly drummer Ron Bushy, who played on “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,” dead at 79

Ron Bushy, longtime drummer of the psychedelic band Iron Butterfly, who played on the band’s classic 1968 song “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,” died Sunday morning at the age of 79.

A message on the band’s official Facebook page reports that Bushy “passed away peacefully, with his wife Nancy by his side…at UCLA Santa Monica Hospital. All three of his daughters were also with him.”

The note adds, “He was a real fighter…He will be deeply missed!”

Bushy joined Iron Butterfly in 1966 and, according to Rolling Stone, was the only member of the band to play on all six of its studio albums.

“In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” was the title track’s of Iron Butterfly’s second album, which was released in June 1968. The epic 17-minute song became the group’s signature tune and has become an enduring psychedelic-era anthem. An abbreviated version of the track peaked at #30 on the Billboard Hot 100. The album reached #4 on the Billboard 200, and has sold over four million copies in the U.S.

Bushy shared the story about the tune’s origins in a 2020 interview with Its Psychedelic Baby magazine, noting that it began as a slow country ballad written by Iron Butterfly singer/keyboardist Doug Ingle.

“I came home late one night and Doug had been drinking a whole gallon of Red Mountain wine… [He was] playing a slow ballad [he’d written] on his Vox keyboard,” Bushy recalled. “It was hard to understand him because he was so drunk…so I wrote it down on a napkin exactly how it sounded phonetically to me…’In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.'”

Bushy continued to play drums with various Iron Butterfly incarnations on and off through 2018, and made guest appearances with the band until his passing.

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