Buddy Miles

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Buddy Miles
Performing in Germany, 1972
Performing in Germany, 1972
Background information
Birth nameGeorge Allen Miles Jr.
Born(1947-09-05)September 5, 1947
Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.
DiedFebruary 26, 2008(2008-02-26) (aged 60)
Austin, Texas
Genres
Occupation(s)
  • Musician
  • songwriter
  • arranger
Instruments
  • Drums
  • vocals
Years active1959–2008
Labels
Associated acts
Websitewww.buddymiles.com

George Allen "Buddy" Miles Jr. (September 5, 1947 – February 26, 2008), was an American rock 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. Miles also played and recorded with Carlos Santana and others. Additionally, he sang lead vocals on the critically and commercially acclaimed "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, United States,[1] on September 5, 1947. Buddy's father played upright bass for Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Charlie Parker, Dexter Gordon, and others. By age twelve, Miles had begun touring with his father's band, the Bebops. Given the nickname "Buddy" by his aunt after the drummer Buddy Rich, he was often seen as a teenager hanging out and recording at Universal Promotions Corporation recording studios, which later became Rainbow Recording Studios.[2]

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.[1] In 1964, at the age of 16, Miles met Jimi Hendrix at a show in Montreal, where both were performing as sidemen for other artists.[citation needed]

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.[1] 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.[1] Shortly after that release, though, the group disbanded.[1] In the same year, Hendrix used several guest artists, including Miles, during the recording of the album, Electric Ladyland.[1] Miles played drums on one long jam 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.[1] 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.[1] The title of the latter LP was taken from Hendrix's poem on the first.

In 1969 he appeared on British jazz guitarist John McLaughlin's album Devotion.

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.[1]

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 contains 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 Charlie Karp except for the latter.

Also in 1971, though the Electric Flag had been inactive for nearly three years, Columbia released a 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.[1]

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.[1] 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. The song was released a fourth time on a live record Miles recorded with Carlos Santana.

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 was signed by the record label, Casablanca Records. Miles' work for the label included the album released under his own name, Bicentennial Gathering of the Tribes (1976).[1] The album's liner notes a quote from President John F. Kennedy concerning American Indians.[Note 1] In the mid 1970s, Miles recorded "Roadrunner" co-produced by long time friend Jim Paris. In 1980 Paris and Miles re-united, and together they produced "Sneak Attack" with Buddy's new band The Regiment, released by Atlantic Records in 1981.

1980s: The Club Fed Sessions[edit]

Miles served a prison term for grand theft in the late 1970s and later another term for auto theft in the early 1980s.[3]

In late 1984 and early 1985 while living in a halfway house in Oakland, California, Miles commuted almost daily to San Rafael to collaborate with a handful of musicians and songwriters at the Ice House Studios. The project soon moved to the Record Plant in Sausalito, where the group produced over 15 songs, ranging from funky, soulful grooves to R&B ballads. "Anna", the title song of the proposed album, helped Miles land his next recording job with the California Raisins.[1] However, during the album's production, the Record Plant was seized by the 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". The album was never released.

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.[1] 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 with a new band toured the California coast, and the Chitlin' Circuit in the U.S. 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,[1] 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.

In 1992, Miles worked with bassist Bootsy Collins and guitarist Steve Salas under the supergroup moniker Hardware, which released one album produced by Bill Laswell called "Third Eye Open."

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 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. Also playing with the Shadowcasters with members John Vela on guitars, Ray Salazar on Bass, Sparky Montoya on Keys and Johnny Mendoza on drums.

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 Aledort 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]

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".[4] In response, in mid-October 1969, Hendrix founded a short-lived band called Band of Gypsys, which Miles would join. Alan Douglas and Stephan Bright were initially brought in to produce their recording sessions, but Cox immediately clashed with the pair, deeming them unworthy. Cox 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 the record label, Hendrix's 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 at the Fillmore East. First, Hendrix had been talking about a Band of Gypsys "jam" LP since late 1968, after the settlement with Ed Chalpin. He also introduced the band as both 'Gypsy Sun and Rainbows' and 'Band of Gypsys' during their Woodstock concert. At that time, the two Woodstock LPs were only credited as 'Jimi Hendrix'.[Note 2] The recording of the Fillmore East concert was initially a single LP, 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 before 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 Chalpin to be released by the Capitol Records label, but he had become entangled in litigation concerning the contract with Chalpin's PPX record company that he had signed, his agreement with Jeffery & Chandler prior to the contract, and becoming internationally recognized. This fact led to 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.

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."[4] 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.

While with Hendrix, Miles recorded a number of jams, demos, and songs. Over the years, more material recorded at the Fillmore East on New Years 1969–1970 has been issued. In 2019, the complete performances from all of the four shows were released on the box set Songs for Groovy Children: The Fillmore East Concerts.[5] The original versions of "Stepping Stone" and "Izabella", songs which he recorded for the 1970 single with Cox and Hendrix, have been restored and included on the 2001 compilation Voodoo Child: The Jimi Hendrix Collection.[6] Three other songs that were recorded with Cox and Hendrix were later used for early posthumous Hendrix albums, including The Cry of Love and Rainbow Bridge.[7] Additional studio recordings by the trio in various stages of development were released on South Saturn Delta, The Jimi Hendrix Experience box set, Burning Desire, West Coast Seattle Boy: The Jimi Hendrix Anthology, and People, Hell and Angels.

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. Miles was cremated, and there was no funeral.[citation needed]

The day before Miles 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 Miles. The UK-based newspaper The Independent ran an almost full-page obituary in its Friday, February 29, 2008, edition.[8]

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."[9] A memorial concert took place on March 30, 2008, at Threadgill's on Riverside Drive, South Austin that included performances by Bernie Worrell, The Family Stone Project, Doug Pinnick, Cyril Neville, The Sixth Chamber and surviving members of the Buddy Miles Express.

Discography[edit]

Solo[edit]

  • Them Changes – Mercury SR-61280 (1970)
  • We Got to Live Together – Mercury SR-61313 (1970)
  • A Message to the People – Mercury SRM-1-608 (1971)
  • Buddy Miles Live – Mercury SRM-2-7500 [2LP] (1971)
  • Chapter VII – Columbia KC-32048 (1973)
  • All the Faces of Buddy Miles – Columbia KC-33089 (1974)
  • More Miles Per Gallon – Casablanca NBLP-7019 (1975)
  • Bicentennial Gathering of the Tribes – Casablanca NBLP-7024 (1976)
  • Roadrunner – T-Town TT-1001 (1977)
  • Sneak Attack – Atlantic SD 2-4000 [2LP] (1981)
  • Tribute to Jimi Hendrix – CAS 70002 (1996); Pavement 32254 (1997)
  • The Best of Buddy Miles – Mercury/Polygram 510310 (1997) compilation
  • Miles Away from Home – Hip-O 40141 (1998)
  • Blues Berries – Ruf 1073 (2002) with Rocky Athas
  • Changes – SPV 559-70637 (2004)

Buddy Miles Express[edit]

  • Expressway to Your Skull – Mercury SR-61196 (1968)
  • Electric Church – Mercury SR-61222 (1969)
  • Booger Bear – Columbia KC-32694 (1973)
  • Hell and Back – Rykodisc RCD-10305 (1994)

Jimi Hendrix albums[edit]

The California Raisins albums[edit]

  • Sing the Hit Songs – Priority SL-9706 (1987)
  • Sweet, Delicious, & Marvelous – Priority SL-9755 (1988)
  • Meet the Raisins! – Atlantic 81917 (1988)
  • Christmas with the California Raisins – Priority SL-7923 (1988)

Collaborative[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ The quote from President John F. Kennedy included the line "When we neglect the heroic past of the American Indian, we thereby weaken our own heritage".
  2. ^ One of the notable features of the band 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.

Further reading[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o Colin Larkin, ed. (1997). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Popular Music (Concise ed.). Virgin Books. p. 843. ISBN 1-85227-745-9.
  2. ^ "Interview with Buddy Miles". Thereader.com. Archived from the original on July 1, 2015. Retrieved September 17, 2007.
  3. ^ Pareles, Jon (February 29, 2008). "Buddy Miles, 60, Hendrix Drummer, Dies". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved April 3, 2018.
  4. ^ a b Independent Buddy Miles obituary article February 29, 2008
  5. ^ Experience Hendrix. "Songs For Groovy Children: The Fillmore East Concerts". jimihendrix.com (official website). Retrieved November 5, 2019.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  6. ^ Planer, Lindsay. "Voodoo Child: The Jimi Hendrix Collection – Review". AllMusic. Retrieved November 7, 2019.
  7. ^ Shapiro, Harry; Glebbeek, Cesar (1990). Jimi Hendrix: Electric Gypsy. New York City: St. Martin's Press. pp. 539, 542. ISBN 0-312-05861-6.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)
  8. ^ Perrone, Pierre (February 29, 2008). "Buddy Miles: Flamboyant Hendrix drummer". The Independent. Retrieved June 25, 2014.
  9. ^ Seconds magazine, 1995

External links[edit]