Ron Bushy, the drummer for hard rock group Iron Butterfly, has died at the age of 79. “Ron Bushy, our beloved legendary drummer of Iron Butterfly, has passed away peacefully, with his wife Nancy by his side, at 12:05am on August 29th at UCLA Santa Monica Hospital,” the band wrote in a statement. “All three of his daughters were also with him. He was a real fighter … He will be deeply missed!” A cause of death has not been disclosed.
Born in 1945, Bushy joined Iron Butterfly back in 1966 and was the only original member to appear on all six of the band’s studio albums, from 1968’s Heavy to 1975’s Sun and Steel. The follow-up to their debut LP, In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, also released in 1968, was best known for its 17-minute title track, which featured a drum solo from Bushy and reached the Top 40 of the Billboard Hot 100. In an interview with It’s Psychedelic Baby magazine last year, Bushy said of the song, “‘In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida’ was written as a slow country ballad, about one-and-a-half minutes long. I came home late one night and Doug [Ingle] had been drinking a whole gallon of Red Mountain wine. I asked him what he had done, while he has been playing a slow ballad on his Vox keyboard. 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.’ It was supposed to be ‘In the Garden of Eden.’”
“After our tour, we went straight into Ultrasonic Studios in Hempstead, L.I. Don Caselle was the engineer,” Bushy told Vinyl Writer earlier this year. “We set up our equipment and Don says, ‘Guys, why don’t you just start playing and let me get some mic levels.’ We decided let’s do ‘Vida’… we played the entire song without stopping. To make a long story short, when we finished, he said, ‘Guys, come into the control room.’ We listened to it and were blown away.”
Iron Butterfly first broke up in 1971, but was reformed later in the same decade by Bushy and guitarist and guitarist Erik Braunn. Bushy continued to drum for the band throughout various breakups and member changes, before retiring from playing full-time in the mid-2010s due to health concerns.