Thursday, February 28, 2008

R.I.P. Buddy Miles

( Buddy Miles, who co-founded and played drums in Band Of Gypsys with Jimi Hendrix, passed away yesterday (Feb. 26) in Austin, Texas, at the age of 60. A cause of death has yet to be announced.

Miles was born Sept. 5, 1947, in Omaha, Neb., and was introduced to music at a young age by his father, who played in a band called the Bebops. As a young man he also played with Wilson Pickett, the Delfonics and the Ink Spots.

Miles met Hendrix in the early 1960s but didn't begin collaborating with him until 1969, when Hendrix produced an album by the Buddy Miles Express.

Miles, often decked out in sequined clothes and an enormous Afro, went on to drum on Hendrix's landmark "Electric Ladyland" album before officially joining Band Of Gypsys with bassist Billy Cox a few months later.

The group's lone self-titled album chronicled a New Year's Eve 1969/1970 concert at New York's Fillmore East, and is regarded by many as one of the best live albums of the era.

After Hendrix's death on Sept. 18, 1970, Miles contributed drums to a handful of posthumous Hendrix releases, including "Cry of Love" and "Crash Landing." He spent time in jail in the late 1970s and early 1980s on drug related charges, but returned to the spotlight in 1986 when he served as the voice for the hugely successful California Raisins claymation TV ads.

Miles and a studio band recorded a cover of Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" as part of the campaign, which became a minor radio hit in 1988.

In 2004, Miles and Cox revisited the Band Of Gypsys material for a live album, "The Band of Gypsys Return," which was released two years later.

Throughout his career, Miles played with such superstars as David Bowie, Stevie Wonder, Carlos Santana, Barry White and George Clinton. According to his Web site, Miles' family is planning a tribute show with details to be announced.

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