Buddy Miles

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Buddy Miles
Buddy-Miles.jpg
Miles performing in Hamburg, Germany, 1972
Background information
Birth name George Allen Miles, Jr.
Born (1947-09-05)September 5, 1947
Omaha, Nebraska
United States
Origin Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Died February 26, 2008(2008-02-26) (aged 60)
Austin, Texas,
United States
Genres Rock, R&B, funk
Occupations Musician, songwriter, arranger
Instruments Drums, guitar, vocals
Years active 1967–2008
Labels Mercury, CBS, Columbia, Epic, Casablanca, Atlantic, Douglas, Hip-O, Ruf
Associated acts Ruby & the Romantics, The Ink Spots, Delfonics, Wilson Pickett, Electric Flag, Mike Bloomfield, Jimi Hendrix, Band of Gypsys, John McLaughlin, Carlos Santana, Bootsy Collins, The California Raisins
Website www.buddymiles.com

George Allen Miles, Jr. (September 5, 1947 – February 26, 2008), known professionally as Buddy Miles, was an American rock and funk drummer, vocalist, composer, and producer. He was a founding member of The Electric Flag (1967), a member of Jimi Hendrix's Band of Gypsys (1969-1970), founder and leader of the Buddy Miles Express and later, the Buddy Miles Band. In addition to Jimi Hendrix, Miles played and recorded with Carlos Santana, Mike Bloomfield, and others. In a lighter vein, he sang lead vocals on the popular "California Raisins" claymation TV commercials and recorded two California Raisins R&B albums.

Biography and career[edit]

Early life[edit]

Miles was born in Omaha, Nebraska on September 5, 1947. He began playing drums as a child and by age 12 had joined his father's jazz band, The Bebops. On the side note, George Miles, Sr. had played upright bass with Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Charlie Parker, and Dexter Gordon.

Miles Jr. was given the nickname "Buddy" by his aunt after the drummer Buddy Rich. In his teens, he was often seen hanging out, as well as recording, at the Universal Promotions Corporation (U.P.C.) recording studios, which later became Rainbow Recording Studios.[1]

1960s: Early career[edit]

Miles played with a variety of rhythm and blues and soul acts as a teenager, including Ruby & the Romantics, the Delfonics, and Wilson Pickett. In 1964, at the age of 16, Miles met Jimi Hendrix at a show in Canada, where both were performing as sidemen for other artists.

In 1967, Miles joined Hendrix in a jam session at the Malibu home of Stephen Stills. They also went on to play together again in 1968 in both Los Angeles and New York. In the same year, Miles moved to Chicago where he teamed with guitarist Mike Bloomfield and vocalist Nick Gravenites to form The Electric Flag, a blues/soul/rock band. In addition to playing drums, Miles sometimes sang lead vocals for the band, which made its live debut at the Monterey Pop Festival in mid-1967.

In early 1968, the band released A Long Time Comin', its first album for Columbia. The Electric Flag's second album, An American Music Band, followed late the same year. Shortly after that release, though, the group disbanded. In the same year, Hendrix has had several guest artists, including Buddy Miles, for the recordings of the album, Electric Ladyland. Miles played drums on one long jam (song) that was eventually split into two album cuts, "Rainy Day, Dream Away" and "Still Raining, Still Dreaming", with a different song, "1983 a Merman I Should Turn To Be", edited in between.

At age 21, after the breakup of The Electric Flag, Miles put together a new band with Jim McCarty, who later became the guitarist for Cactus. This new group performed and recorded as the Buddy Miles Express. In 1969, Hendrix wrote a short poem as a liner note for Expressway To Your Skull, the first studio album recorded by the Buddy Miles Express. Hendrix went on to produce four of the tracks on the group's follow-up album, Electric Church. The title of the latter LP was taken from Hendrix's poem on the first.

1970s: More bands and collaborations[edit]

In 1970, after the Buddy Miles Express split up, Miles began a collaboration with Hendrix and bassist Billy Cox. Together, they formed Band of Gypsys, producing one self-titled live album before disbanding.

Later in 1970, while recording the album We Got To Live Together, Buddy Miles learned of the death of Hendrix, which he mentions on the inner cover of the album. Released in 1971, We Got To Live Together was produced by Miles and Robin McBride. It comprises five songs, including the instrumental "Easy Greasy". The other cuts on the album were "Runaway Child (Little Miss Nothin)", "Walking Down the Highway", "We Got To Live Together" and "Take It Off Him and Put It On Me". All the songs were written by Miles with C. Karp except for the latter. With its high energy drumming, funky overtones and big horns, this album was described as quintessential Buddy Miles.

Also in 1971, though The Electric Flag had been inactive for nearly three years, Columbia released The Electric Flag's Greatest Hits album. Three years later, in 1974, Miles and The Electric Flag re-formed briefly and released another album, The Band Kept Playing, on the Atlantic label.

Miles went on to produce other records as the Buddy Miles Band. One song he had written and recorded with the Band of Gypsys, "Them Changes", was again recorded by Miles with his own band and released by Mercury Records soon after Hendrix's death. Miles' former Band Of Gypsys sideman, Billy Cox, performed bass guitar on this track. The band also included bassist David Hull (who would go on to work with Joe Perry of Aerosmith), as well as guitarist Charlie Karp, of the bands Farrenheit and The James Montgomery Blues Band. When the Buddy Miles Band released its live album, it again included "Them Changes", which had become Miles' signature song.

Miles would see the song released yet a fourth time on a collaborative live record he made with Carlos Santana. This particular version was particularly notable for its intense energy, horn lines, and the blazing guitar work supplied by a very young and energetic Santana. Yet again in 1973, Miles recorded an album with The Gun's Adrian Gurvitz called Chapter VII. The album cover included photos of Miles and his family along with some shots of Carlos Santana, Jimi Hendrix, and Sly Stone.

Miles would then go on to be signed by the 70s-80s era record label, Casablanca Records, best known for its rock act, KISS. Miles' work for the label included the excellent album released under his own name, Bicentennial Gathering Of The Tribes. It would include on its liner notes a quote from President John F Kennedy concerning the American Indians.[Note 1] This was interesting in relationship to his former friendship and collaborations with Jimi Hendrix who, in fact, had much American Indian blood in his family line.

1980s: The Club Fed Sessions[edit]

In late 1984 and early 1985 while living in a halfway house in Oakland, California, Miles commuted almost every single day to Marin County to collaborate with a handful of musicians and songwriters at the Ice House Studios in San Rafael. The list of collaborators included David Jenkins of Pablo Cruise, Pat Craig and Dave Carlson with Tazmanian Devils, Robbie Long, Bill Craig, Tony Marty, and Tony Saunders. First recorded as a demo, the result was an album's worth of material. The project was soon moved to the Record Plant in Sausalito, where Jim Gaines of Huey Lewis and the News fame came in to take over production chores.

The group produced over 15 songs ranging from funky, soulful grooves to r&b ballads, and featured some of the best singing work Miles ever did. One cut, "When The Train Leaves the Station", featured solos by both Carlos Santana and Neal Schon from Journey. "Anna", the title song of the proposed album, helped Miles land his next recording job with the California Raisins. However, during the album's production, the Record Plant was seized by the United States Government when its owner was indicted on drug trafficking charges. The musicians and employees working there began calling the studio "Club Fed"; hence the name "The Club Fed Sessions". Unfortunately, the album was never released, and the masters remain in the can, in the hands of Miles' former manager. Years later, Pat Craig digitized some of the mixes and has been known to offer the album from time to time on eBay as a collector's item under the title Buddy and Me. The songs included on the tracklist were "Anna", "Forever in a Moment", "Tonight", "Next to You" and "This Could Be An Everlasting Love".

In 1986, Miles performed vocals for the "California Raisins" claymation ad campaign, most notably singing "I Heard It Through the Grapevine", and also performed lead vocals on two California Raisins albums featuring 1960s R&B covers. In 1986 and 1987, he rejoined Carlos Santana as a vocalist on Santana's album Freedom. In 1987–1988, Miles moved to Southern California and formed the lineup of Marlo Henderson on guitar, Derek Sherinian on keyboards, and Michael BeHolden on bass. The band toured the California coast, then eventually did a tour of the Chitlin' Circuit in the deep south before disbanding in early 1989.

1990s: Tours and remembering Hendrix[edit]

While residing in Chicago in 1990, Miles, along with guitarists Kevon Smith and Joe Thomas, formed MST. They recorded Hell and Back in 1994 and toured the U.S. and Europe until 1997. They were also featured in the DVD, Tribute to Jimi Hendrix - CAS (1997), directed by Patrick Savey.

From 1994 to 2007, Buddy Miles formulated his new version of the Buddy Miles Express in the New York City area, with Charlie Torres on bass guitar and vocals, Rod Kohn on guitar and vocals, the then-longest-standing Buddy Miles Express member and band leader Mark "Muggie Doo" Leach on Hammond B3, background vocals, and keyboards, and Kenn Moutenot on drums and vocals and handling management. They toured nearly nonstop in the United States and overseas, with nearly one thousand concerts and festivals to their credit.

In 1996, he sat in with rock band Phish at Madison Square Garden. He also did several dates with Frank Damelio's NJ-based blues band, Rock'n Daddy, which also included former TV Toy guitarist Bob "Big Bud" Solberg, drummer Paul "Fergy" Ferguson, and bassist Phil "Catfish" Endean, who, after developing arthritis in his left hand, now has a custom motorcycle business at "endeanmc.com". Endean, after one rehearsal, gave Miles one of his prized Fender Stratocaster guitars, which Miles played at times in their shows. Through the late 1990s, Miles' band played pro bono at several annual tribute concerts for their local friend and fan, Linda Gillespie, who had been killed in a car accident in the spring of 1994 in Winthrop Harbor.

In 1997, Miles relocated to Fort Worth, Texas. Soon, he began collaborating with a young guitarist from Dallas named Lance Lopez. The former Band Of Gypsys legend would go on to mentor Lopez, co-producing Lopez's debut album, First Things First, with Grammy-winning producer Jay Newland/Norah Jones. The Lopez album was released independently in 1999.

Miles was also seen in the Hendrix-family-owned official video release, The Making of Electric Ladyland on Rhino Records. The video featured interviews with the majority of players who were involved in recording the legendary Hendrix album. The video includes footage of Miles playing his drum tracks in the studio against the original multi-track recordings of Hendrix. In 1999, Miles performed on the late Bruce Cameron's album, Midnight Daydream, which included other Hendrix alumni Billy Cox, Mitch Mitchell, Jack Bruce, and others.

2000s: Final albums and unreleased songs[edit]

In 2000, Miles and Leach collaborated with Stevie Ray Vaugan's "Double Trouble" rhythm section, creating the Buddy Miles Blues Berries album which featured Rocky Athas of Black Oak Arkansas. This lineup also contributed a spirited version of Jimi Hendrix's "Wind Cries Mary" on the Blue Haze, Songs of Jimi Hendrix album in 2001. In addition, Miles also composed and recorded many songs with this new version of the Buddy Miles Express that are yet to be released. It was Miles' most enduring live band. In fact, this touring lineup continued for six years with the same members.

The band continued on with Miles and Leach and a host of other players until Buddy's passing. The Miles/Leach duo, along with sax man Patrick Gage and bassist Dave Blackerby, also released the Buddy Miles Express' final album, Road to Sturgis, a benefit CD for the Children's Craniofacial Foundation. Miles and Leach continued writing new but unreleased music until just days before Miles' passing.

In 2004, Miles reunited yet again with Billy Cox of the Band of Gypsys to re-record songs from the original 1970 live album with guitarists Eric Gales, Kenny Olsen, Sheldon Reynolds, Andy Aledortt and Gary Serkin. The album, titled The Band Of Gypsys Return was released in 2006. Until his death, Miles continued to be active musically and performed many shows with proceeds going to help support victims of natural disasters and other charitable causes.

Miles is credited on sessions with George Clinton/Parliament/Funkadelic.

In 2005, Miles began collaborating with Florida-based guitar virtuoso Tony Smotherman, and the two toured the Southeast with a blues-rock band performing various pieces from Miles' collaborations with Jimi Hendrix. Miles and Smotherman last performed at the Austin Convention Center at the 2007 Summer NAMM Show with Vernon Reid of Living Colour.

Friendship and collaboration with Jimi Hendrix[edit]

Usage of past tracks[edit]

After the Jimi Hendrix Experience split, Hendrix formed Gypsy Sun and Rainbows. The group disbanded in late September 1969 with nothing that was deemed releasable from their sessions. Nevertheless, they had recorded complete versions of "Message to Love" and "Machine Gun", songs which would be featured on the Band of Gypsys LP, as well as two other songs "Stepping Stone" and "Izabella" for the latter's singles. However, the track "Burning Desire" was never completed by both bands.

Collaborations[edit]

Between late September and mid-October 1969, Miles stated that: "Jimi was not happy. He felt powerless. He couldn't do what he wanted to do".[2] In response, Hendrix founded a short-lived band called Band of Gypsys in mid-October 1969. Miles was brought in to join him accordingly. Alan Douglas and Stephan Bright were initially brought in to produce their recording sessions, but Cox immediately clashed with the pair, deeming them unworthy. He eventually stormed out of the sessions after a furious row with Bright and went home to Nashville for two weeks, before being coaxed back. At the end of Douglas and Bright's one-and-a-half months together, they had only produced one usable backing track, "Room Full of Mirrors". Consequently, Douglas and Bright resigned, stating pressures from business, Hendrix' manager Michael Jeffery, and Hendrix's own "lack of interest".

The same day Douglas resigned, Hendrix signed the contract with Bill Graham for the two dates. First, Hendrix had been talking about a Band of Gypsys "jam" LP since late 1968, after the settlement with Chalpin. He also introduced the band known as 'Gypsy Sun and Rainbows', but also almost in the same breath as 'Band of Gypsys' during their Woodstock concert. At that time, the two Woodstock LPs were only credited as 'Jimi Hendrix'.[Note 2] It was a single LP, originally, but additional cuts from the concerts have been released on a double CD, Live at the Fillmore East. During the two-and-a-half months through the two nights' worth of recordings for the LP, the band rehearsed and recorded in New York City.[Note 3] Hendrix was required to give his next LP to Ed Chalpin to be released by the Capitol Records label as part of the agreement in court. However, he had become entangled in litigation concerning the contract with Ed Chalpin's PPX that he had signed, his agreement with Jeffery & Chandler prior to the contract, and becoming internationally recognized. This fact led to Buddy Miles and Billy Cox being hired as full-time employees for the duration of the three-month collaboration called the 'Band of Gypsys'. In the end, the band produced the LP for Chalpin and Capitol, as well as a single for Reprise.

Backing-up[edit]

During a one-off charity event for the Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam committee a month later, Hendrix had a minor meltdown on stage. Speculations include a possibly drug-related meltdown on stage, as well as an act of sabotage on the part of a very frustrated manager, Michael Jeffery. Jeffery was not a fan of the Band of Gypsys, which was claimed as fact by Miles. Miles had this to say about the incident years later, stating: "Jeffery slipped [Jimi] two half-tabs of acid on stage as he went on... [Jimi] just freaked out. I told Jeffery he was an out-and-out complete idiot... One of the biggest reasons why Jimi is dead is because of that guy."[2] Miles and Jeffery already had a strained relationship eventually, as Jeffery was always uncomfortable with Hendrix's and Miles' close friendship. After this one-off charity event at Madison Square Garden in January 1970, Jeffery told Miles that he was fired and the Band of Gypsys was no more. Although, Cox, and presumably Miles as well, had already been paid off as full-time salaried employees with a $1,000 bonus for their services the week before.

Band of Gypsys album[edit]

In addition to recording the live LP, studio recordings were made during the rehearsals leading up to the two concert dates and continued sporadically over a further three weeks. Cox's and Miles's recording for the single's A side was completed on the 7th, and the only other completed backing track was "Power of Soul" on the 21st. At this point, most of Hendrix's and Eddie Kramer's time was taken up with Hendrix' overdubs and mixing of the studio tracks, as well as the beginning of the very long mixing and editing for the finished LP. Some of these songs were even marked down by Hendrix as contenders for his next LP. The songs include "Room Full of Mirrors", "Ezy Ryder", "Power of Soul", and the Band of Gypsys' singles "Stepping Stone" and "Izabella", released a week after the LP, but back on Reprise records. The original version of "Stepping Stone" was later given new guitar overdubs as Miles's drums were replaced by Mitchell, and it was re-mixed by Hendrix with the intention of releasing it on his next LP. These songs have been released on several posthumous Hendrix albums. The album Band of Gypsys — released in March 1970 (US) and June 1970 (UK) — made the Top 10 on both sides of the Atlantic and stayed on the US charts for over a year. In addition, Hendrix's final extensive tour[Note 4] and his tragic early death on September 18, 1970, caused the album to sell more copies and for a longer period of time. There are now videos of Miles and Randy Hansen covering several of Jimi's songs on a major website.

Death and legacy[edit]

At the age of 60, Buddy Miles died on February 26, 2008, at his home in Austin, Texas with his family by his side. According to his website, he died of congestive heart disease.

There was a history of congestive heart failure in his family. His sister and mother both died of the same illness. It was known that his heart had certainly been struggling, working at only 15%, and his health had been consistently deteriorating over the previous few months. According to his friends, "...he had turned off his defibrillator and was ready for heaven."[3] There was no funeral as Miles was cremated.

The day before Buddy died, he heard Steve Winwood and Eric Clapton playing "Them Changes" at Madison Square Garden through his cell phone. "Them Changes" is now part of Clapton's set on tour as a tribute to Buddy. The UK-based newspaper The Independent ran an almost full-page obituary entitled "Buddy Miles: Flamboyant Hendrix drummer" in its Friday, February 29, 2008, edition.[4]

Asked how he would like to be remembered by the American music magazine Seconds in 1995, Miles simply said: "The baddest of the bad. People say I'm the baddest drummer. If that's true, thank you world."[5] A memorial concert took place on March 30, 2008 at Threadgill's on Riverside Drive, South Austin.

Discography[edit]

Solo[edit]

  • Expressway to Your Skull - Mercury (1968)
  • Electric Church - Mercury (1969)
  • Them Changes - Mercury (1970)
  • We Got to Live Together - Mercury (1970)
  • A Message to the People - Mercury (1971)
  • Buddy Miles Live - Mercury (1971)
  • Booger Bear - Columbia (1973)
  • Chapter VII - Columbia (1973)
  • All the Faces of Buddy Miles - Columbia (1974)
  • More Miles Per Gallon - Casablanca (1975)
  • Bicentennial Gathering of the Tribes - Casablanca (1976)
  • Sneak Attack - Atlantic (1981)
  • Hell and Back - United For Opportunity - Douglas Records (1994)
  • Tribute to Jimi Hendrix - CAS (1997)
  • Miles Away from Home - Hip-O (1997)
  • Blues Berries - Ruf (2002)
  • Changes - SPV (2005)

Jimi Hendrix albums[edit]

Collaborative[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The quote from President John F Kennedy would include the line "When we neglect the heroic past of the American Indian, we thereby weaken our own heritage".
  2. ^ One of the notable features for Hendrix's audience at the time was the fact that most of the players were black. The choice was also considered by some to be a move towards reconnecting with his soul roots, re-associating rock with its African-American roots.
  3. ^ The place that the band rehearsed and recorded was Hendrix and his management's apartment. It was also the place where he was building his Electric Lady studio.
  4. ^ Hendrix had only played five major concerts — one morning and two nights — in the previous nine months since the original Experience broke up, not counting his last. Therefore, it was a two-song show only held at Madison Square Garden. All of these performances took place in New York City with the exception of Woodstock in upstate New York.

Further readings[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Interview with Buddy Miles". Retrieved 2007-09-17. 
  2. ^ a b Independent Buddy Miles obituary article Feb 29, 2008
  3. ^ Cheech And Chong dot com, February 28, 2008
  4. ^ Perrone, Pierre (29 Feb 2008). "Buddy Miles: Flamboyant Hendrix drummer". The Independent. Retrieved 2014-06-25. 
  5. ^ Seconds magazine, 1995

External links[edit]