Buddy Miles 1947-2008

Buddy Miles, the rock and R&B drummer, singer and songwriter whose eclectic career included stints playing with Jimi Hendrix and as the lead voice of the California Raisins, the animated clay figures that became an advertising phenomenon in the late 1980s, has died. He was 60. A massive man with a distinctive, sculpted afro, Miles hit his peak of popularity when he joined Hendrix and bassist Billy Cox to form Hendrix’s Band of Gypsys, which the New Rolling Stone Encyclopedia of Rock & Roll called “the first black rock group.” Miles had played with Hendrix on the guitarist’s influential “Electric Ladyland” album released in 1968. The Band of Gypsys made just one album, a live set recorded on New Year’s Eve in 1969-70, and two of Miles’ songs, “Them Changes” and “We Got to Live Together,” were included on the album. He gave the recording a memorable drum riff on one of Hendrix’s signature songs, “Machine Gun.” But, according to Miles, the Band of Gypsys association was brief and stormy. He told The Times in 1988 that Hendrix’s management, not the guitarist himself, fired him within a month of the concert. He thought Hendrix’s managers were leery of continuing with an all-black group. “It had to be a racial thing,” Miles told The Times. “I think it had to scare them because of the political aspect at the time.” Miles was born Sept. 5, 1947, in Omaha. He developed an interest in drums at an early age and by 12 was playing in his father’s jazz combo. Within a couple of years he was in demand as a session player and a sideman, working with top-name R&B groups, including Ruby and the Romantics and the Delfonics. According to the Rolling Stone encyclopedia, he played on the session that produced the Jaynetts‘ 1963 hit “Sally Go Round the Roses.” While playing with Wilson Pickett in 1967, he was approached by guitarist Mike Bloomfield, who asked him to join the blues, rock and soul group Electric Flag. Miles played on three of the band’s albums before forming his own group, the Buddy Miles Express, in 1968. Next came his association with Hendrix. Over the years, Miles recorded two albums with Carlos Santana, one of which went platinum, and worked with other leading music figures, including Muddy Waters and John McLaughlin. He re-formed the Buddy Miles Express in the mid-1970s and had a hit with his song “Them Changes.” While there is always more to a persons story, the fact is that Buddy Miles was a great drummer and it is no surprise to me that he was always affiliated with some great musicians.

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Buddy Miles RIP 1947-2008

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Setlist Architect/Art Scene Checker-Outer/Sound Feeler
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