An Interview with Ron Bushy of Iron Butterfly

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Ron Bushy - Wikipedia

You’ve probably heard it a thousand times, and even though you may not be able to pronounce it, or spell it, “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” is nothing short of a classic song. The late 60s were a tumultuous time in history, but they were also a fantastic time for music. One genre in particular really stands out from this era, and that is Psych Rock. Iron Butterfly were one of the leaders of this genre which would come to define an era of music. Today, I’ve got the long time drummer of Iron Butterfly, Ron Bushy with us. Ron has been with the band since 1966 and was a part of what is considered the band’s “classic line up.” Ron was and is an important part of this era of music and it is my pleasure to have him aboard today. If you’re a drummer or a fan of 60s music, sit back and enjoy this one. If you would like to learn more about Iron Butterfly, head over to their website here. Cheers.

Andrew:
Ron, thank you for taking the time to speak with us here. It’s been a hard year. How are you holding up?

Ron:
Yes, this has been a difficult year for all. We have been home and going out only when need. I’ve been fortunate, because I’m happily married, and I actually enjoy being with my wife Nancy. We are staying strong.

Andrew:
Tell us about your musical origins. What’s your backstory? What got you started in terms of playing the drums?
You’ve been a member of Iron Butterfly since 1966, right? Tell us how you ended up with the group.

Ron:
I started in San Diego and went to college. I studied biology and psychology. I was going to become a Marine Biologist and go to Scripps Institute of Oceanography in La Jolla. I got side tracked into music part time. I rented a drum set and learned to play drums to Booker T and the MG’s, “Green Onions.” From there, I started playing night clubs as the Bushmen….then The Voxmen. We played Arts Roaring 20’s in El Cajon. We ran into the Palace Pages who then became Jerry and the Geritones….we became friends later. Then they changed their name to Iron Butterfly. They later went to Hollywood to make it. I was now in the Voxmen and we said if they can do it, so can we.  

When we got to Hollywood we got a job at the Sea Witch on Sunset for $7 a night for the whole band. I.B. was playing at Bido Lidos on Cosmo Alley, so I went to see them. They asked me to sit in, and after the first song they turned around and said, we want you in I.B. I told them no, I’m loyal. They pleaded with me to join, so we switched drummers. Their drummer liked The Voxmen better, and I became I.B.’s drummer.    

Andrew:
Tell us about a little about the recording of Iron Butterfly’s classic 1968 album In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida. What do you remember about those sessions?

Ron:
Yes, after our tour, we went straight into Ultrasonic Studios in Hempstead, L.I. Don Caselle was the engineer. 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.

All the drummers: Ron Bushy

Andrew:
The psychedelic late 60’s was such an incredible time for music. Looking back, what are thoughts on that scene that Iron Butterfly was such an important part of?

Ron:
Looking back, it became something I could have never imagined. What can I say? It was not like today. We were a community of musicians and friends. We all lived in the same house in Laurel Canyon and everyone hung out together. Us and all the other guys, like The Doors, Buffalo Springfield and many more greats from this time period.

Andrew:
Iron Butterfly has had many members and a few stops and starts over the years, but haven’t released a new album since 1975. Why did the band cease recording of new music?

Ron:
Actually we had 3 new songs that were never recorded. Unfortunately, some of the band members did not want to do music anymore. Now, some of our I.B. members have passed away and we are all older, and have retired with our great memories of our accomplishments within the music industry and our personal lives. 

Andrew:
In retrospect, what is your favorite Iron Butterfly album?

Ron:
My most favorite of our albums is Metamorphosis.  And I do believe it is also the most underrated album as well.

Iron Butterfly – Metamorphosis (1973, Vinyl) - Discogs

Andrew:
Who were some of Iron Butterfly’s greatest influences? How did the band develop it’s signature sound?

Ron:
Nobody influenced us. We did our own thing, but we did influence others.  We just played and jammed and it became what is was and is today.

Andrew:
As a drummer, who were some of your own personal greatest influences? Ones that helped shape your style the most.

Ron:
I am self-taught. I just play what I feel. I don’t read or write music. I am just me, my style.

Andrew:
Are you into vinyl? Tapes? CDs? Or are you all digital now? Where do you like to shop for music these days?

Ron:
I have it all. I don’t go and shop for music.

Iron Butterfly | Nostalgia Central

Andrew:
What are a few albums that mean the most you after all these years?


Ron:
It’s not a certain album that I enjoy, it is the artist music. The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Rush and so many more great artists.

Andrew:
Once COVID-19 dies down, what’s next for Iron Butterfly? A tour? Some new music perhaps?

Ron:
There will probably be some tours for I.B. music. The band will have no original members, but I have played with the guitar player and keyboardist for many years. I seriously doubt there will be any new music written, considering there are no original members, so it would not be I.B. music.

Andrew:
Last question. You’ve had a long and storied career. With that being said, looking back, what are some of your fondest memories in music?

Ron:
There are so many, but off the top of my head, I remember playing 3 nights a week, 2 sets a night at the Fillmore in San Francisco and then flying back to L.A. to play the Newport Pop Festival with about a hundred thousand people there. Then back on the plane back to Fillmore West to play again.

Iron Butterfly - In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida | This Day In Music

Be sure to follow and check out Iron Butterfly via the following social media channels:

Iron Butterfly’s website here.

Iron Butterfly’s Twitter here.

Iron Butterfly’s Facebook here.

Interested in diving deeper into the work of Iron Butterfly? Check out the link below:

Dig this interview? Check out the full archives of Vinyl Writer Interviews, by Andrew Daly, here: www.vinylwritermusic.com/interview

Published by Andrew Daly

Since he was a young child growing up on Long Island, NY, USA, Andrew has always loved writing, music, drumming and collecting music on CD, tape and vinyl. After losing his life-long vinyl collection in 2014, Andrew began his vinyl collection from scratch again when he met his future wife Angela in 2015. Andrew’s love of music only further blossomed as his collection spanned all genres possible. After amassing over 3,000 albums in under two years, he knew it was time to finally follow his dream of being a music journalist, and thus, Vinyl Writer was born.

Andrew’s not only the go-to friend for music trivia, but his intricate knowledge of the ins and outs of the music industry allows him to develop engaging questions that really tap into each artist and individual to deliver insightful and enjoyable interviews. He’s proud to share his love of music with the world through his writing, and the result is nothing short of beautiful: articles and interviews written by a music addict, for fellow music addicts.

Andrew lives on Long Island, NY, with his wife Angela and their four cats, Oliver, Patrick, Charlie and Kevin. Andrew’s collection of over 4,700 vinyl albums, plus several hundred tapes and CDs, tells the story of his passion for all that is music. Andrew works as a Horticultural Operations Manager by day and runs the Vinyl Writer website by night. Andrew is also the admin of several Facebook groups dedicated to music.

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