‘In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida’ Drummer, Ron Bushy, Dies

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Ron Bushy, whose roughly three-minute drum solo on Iron Butterfly’s epic 1968 song, “In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida,” became one the iconic musical moments of the era, died today (August 29, 2021) at UCLA Santa Monica Hospital after a battle with cancer. The musician, the only member of the band to appear on all six of their studio albums, was 79. The news of his passing was announced on the group’s Twitter account.

The tweet noted that his wife, Nancy, and his three daughters, were by his side.

Bushy joined Iron Butterfly in 1966, replacing drummer Bruce Morse. By the summer of ’68 the group was already set to release its sophomore LP. In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida—released on June 14, 1968, and featuring the quartet of vocalist Doug Ingle, guitarist Erik Brann, drummer Bushy and bassist Lee Dorman—took its name from its title track, which, at 17:05, occupied all of Side B on the original vinyl LP.

Lyrically, other than the misheard title phrase, there really wasn’t much to the “In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida.”

But it was all in the presentation, and Iron Butterfly found their audience with their second album and its centerpiece. The album, recorded on Long Island, rose to #4 on the Billboard LP chart, while the single, edited down to a more radio-friendly 2:52, found its way to #30 on that chart.

Listen to the album version of “In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida”

Related: 1968 – The year in 50 classic rock albums

“In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida” quickly established itself as a rock classic and when the band performed the song live, they often extended it even beyond the 17-minute mark, reportedly reaching a half-hour at times.

Iron Butterfly receiving Gold and Platinum awards for the In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida album. This photo appeared in the Sept. 6, 1969 issue of Record World

Watch the 1968 lineup play the full 17-minute version of “In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida”

Bushy was born Dec. 23, 1941, in Washington, D.C.

Related: Musicians we’ve lost in 2021

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11 Comments so far

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  1. Yvette
    #1 Yvette 30 August, 2021, 00:41

    Oh How I Loved Iron Butterfly’s Song…
    RON BUSHY You Were a Great Drummer!!
    God Bless..RIP Ron…

    Reply this comment
  2. kirk1480
    #2 kirk1480 30 August, 2021, 01:44

    “It was all in the presentation”? There wasn’t much to it? Not true. The song may not have stood the test of time, but it was breakthrough stuff. One song taking up the entire side of an album was totally new. And it set the stage for drum solos in rock for the next 3-4 years. No, not a song played on classic rock radio much, but is a true classic none the less. God rest your soul Ron Bushy.

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  3. Greg
    #3 Greg 30 August, 2021, 01:47

    A true classic that set the stage for drum solos for the next 3-4 years. RIP Mr. Bushy.

    Reply this comment
    • Skinner
      Skinner 30 August, 2021, 19:18

      Ron gave birth to the drum solo. I was 15 when has a da Vida broke out. I was 15 and a half when I could play his solo. God speed Ron. You’ll live as long as the planet exist! LOVED your music and legendary beat !! Rock ON Ron! Rock on!! You made history brother!!!

      Reply this comment
      • Sam
        Sam 23 September, 2021, 07:43

        Not quite. Have you ever heard of Gene Krupa, Max Roach, Buddy Rich, Roy Haynes, Elvin Jones?

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  4. Greg
    #4 Greg 30 August, 2021, 01:49

    Your drum solo changed rock for the next 3-4 years. RIP Mr. Bushy.

    Reply this comment
  5. Greg
    #5 Greg 30 August, 2021, 01:51

    RIP Ron.

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  6. Greg
    #6 Greg 30 August, 2021, 01:55

    The song may not have stood the test of time, but it was breakthrough stuff, and your drum solo changed rock for the next 3-4 years. RIP Mr. Bushy.

    Reply this comment
  7. Yazmatazz
    #7 Yazmatazz 30 August, 2021, 09:36

    As a 12 year old in 1968 and trying to learn to play the drums, that song was iconic and ever played on my stereo system. R.I.P. Ron. Thanks for the good memories. “In the garden of Eden” indeed…..:)

    Reply this comment
  8. Frost
    #8 Frost 30 August, 2021, 21:00

    Doug Ingle is the last surviving member of the original Butterflies R I P gentlemen

    Reply this comment
  9. Da Mick
    #9 Da Mick 31 August, 2021, 13:30

    Gotta agree with Kirk on this one. While “Da Vida” certainly became iconic in its day, the length of it, and the long drum solo, coupled with the fact that it was played soooo much in its heyday, unfortunately, eventually rendered it into kind of a jokey iconic song, which some folks viewed as being somewhat amateurish, due to its repetitive, heavy theme line. In effect, the things that initially made it a breakthrough record eventually made it seem dated. But the reality is that if you’ve ever actually played the song, there’s much more to the dynamics of it musically, than initially meets the ear. It was, and is, a great song, and so were the Butterfly. Most people know them only by this iconic masterpiece, but you’d be amazed how really enjoyable their other material is, especially if you like the San Francisco sound of the 1960s. If you’ve never heard much else by them, I highly recommend picking up their “Greatest Hits” collection. And while they didn’t exactly have other “hits,” this collection give you an assortment of other great material by the band. And while this CD only has the short “radio” version of “Da Vida,” as a whole listen, It’s a surprising treat that you’ll want to listen to often.

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