George Allen Miles, Jr.
(September 5, 1947 – February 26, 2008), known as Buddy Miles
, was an American rock and funk drummer, most known as a founding member of The Electric Flag in 1967, then as a member of Jimi Hendrix's Band of Gypsys from 1969 until January 1970.Early lifeGeorge Allen Miles was born in Omaha, Nebraska on September 5, 1947. He was known as a child prodigy, originally playing drums in his father, George Miles, Sr.'s, jazz band, The Bebops, beginning at age 12. Miles Sr. had played upright bass with Duke Ellington, Count Basie, Charlie Parker and Dexter Gordon.In his teens Miles Jr. was often seen hanging out as well as recording at the Universal Promotions Corporation (U.P.C.) recording studios, which later became Rainbow Recording StudiosMiles was given the nickname "Buddy" by his aunt after the drummer Buddy Rich.
Miles played in a variety of rhythm and blues and soul acts as a teenager, including Ruby & the Romantics, the Delfonics and Wilson Pickett. By 1967 he moved to Chicago where he formed The Electric Flag with guitarist Mike Bloomfield. Nick Gravenites was the vocalist on this (and also some other Bloomfield LP's). The blues-soul-rock band made their live debut at the Monterey Pop Festival in mid 1967 and released their debut Columbia album, A Long Time Comin'
, early the next year (1968). Miles sometimes sang lead vocals for the group in addition to playing drums. The group broke up after their second album An American Music Band
(late 1968) and Miles formed the Buddy Miles Express, with Jim McCarty, later the guitarist for Cactus. A Greatest Hits album by The Electric Flag was issued in 1971 by Columbia. In 1974 The Electric Flag re-formed briefly and released the Atlantic album The Band Kept Playing
After Electric Flag, Miles began a closer musical relationship with the rock legend Jimi Hendrix. Miles had met Hendrix in an earlier time, when Miles was only sixteen and both were acting as sidemen for other artists in the early '60s. The meeting had occurred in Canada in 1964, at a show both were participating in. After the Buddy Miles Express split up, Miles would begin the collaboration with Hendrix, and bassist Billy Cox, that produced the Band of Gypsys
LP.This prefaced a later friendship that would result in several jams and the occasional unreleased recording with Hendrix. In 1967, Hendrix and Miles jammed at the Malibu home of Stephen Stills, and went on to play together again at various times, in both Los Angeles and New York in 1968. Hendrix occasionally joined Electric Flag on stage. On the recordings for Electric Ladyland
Hendrix used some guest artists, one of them being Buddy Miles who played on the songs "Rainy Day, Dream Away" and "Still Raining, Still Dreaming", which are actually the same long jammed song cut in half with "1983 a Merman I Should Turn To Be" edited in between.In 1969 Hendrix found time to write a short poem as a liner note to Expressway To Your Skull
and to later produce four of the tracks on its follow up Electric Church
, the two studio LPs released by the Buddy Miles Express. The title of the latter LP being taken from Hendrix's poem on the first. There was also obvious public curiosity as to whether the name of the band, Buddy Miles Express, was influenced by that of Hendrix's act, The Jimi Hendrix Experience.After the Jimi Hendrix Experience split, Hendrix formed Gypsy Sun and Rainbows, which featured Mitch Mitchell back on drums again, and Billy Cox on bass, amongst others. Then this group was disbanded in late September 1969 with nothing that was deemed releasable from their sessions. They had though recorded complete versions of "Message to Love" and "Machine Gun", songs which would feature on the Band of Gypsys
LP, the two songs that would comprise the Band of Gypsys single: "Stepping Stone" and "Izabella" and another song the Band of Gypsys worked on too, but didn't finish: "Burning Desire". Between late September and mid October 1969, according to Buddy Miles: "Jimi was not happy. He felt powerless. He couldn't do what he wanted to do.". Hendrix's solution to the problem, in mid October 1969, was to found a short-lived band called Band of Gypsys and Miles was brought in to join him. 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. And at the end of Douglas and Bright's one and a half months they had only produced one usable backing track: Room Full of Mirrors
. Douglas (and therefore Bright, his employee) resigned stating business pressure, pressure from Hendrix' manager Michael Jeffery, and Hendrix' own "lack of interest".The same day as Douglas resigned Hendrix signed the contract with Bill Graham for the two dates. 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' who he introduced by that name, but also almost in the same breath as 'Band of Gypsys' during their Woodstock concert - only credited as 'Jimi Hendrix' on the two Woodstock LPs. One of the notable features for his audience at the time was the fact that most of the players were black. This was a first for Hendrix as an international recording star – although he had, of course, played with the Isley Brothers and Ike & Tina Turner, amongst several other r&b bands in his early days – and this choice has been seen by some as a move toward reconnecting with his soul roots. It has also been seen as having had the effect of re-associating rock with its African American roots. Originally it was 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 run up to the two night's recordings for the LP, the band rehearsed and recorded in New York City where Hendrix had his apartement, where his management was, where he was building his Electric Lady studio, and where he had lived and recorded since moving there from Nashville in 1964 - apart from his sixteen months "exile" in London, a later two month sojourn there in 1969, and his West Coast tours when he would base himself in L.A. Hendrix had become entangled in litigation concerning the contract with Ed Chalpin's PPX he had signed to prior to his agreement with Jeffery & Chandler and becoming internationally recognized. He 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. This fact led to Buddy Miles and Billy being hired as full-time employees (with benefits) for the duration of this three month collaboration called the 'Band of Gypsys' that produced that LP for Chalpin and Capitol and a single for Reprise.Hendrix, during a one-off charity event a month later (for the Moratorium to End the War in Vietnam committee), had a minor, possibly drug-related (opinions differ) meltdown on stage which has also been speculated to have been an act of sabotage on the part of a very frustrated manager Michael Jeffery, who was not a fan of the Band of Gypsys, and has been claimed as fact by Miles. Miles had this to say about the incident years later:"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 and a fucking asshole to boot. One of the biggest reasons why Jimi is dead is because of that guy." Miles and Jeffery already had a strained relationship, as Jeffery was always uncomfortable with Hendrix and Miles' close friendship. After this, one off, charity event at Madison Square Garden in January 1970, Jeffery told Buddy Miles 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.Besides 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 and Miles' 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' and Eddie Kramer's time was taken up with (Hendrix only) 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 marked down by Hendrix as contenders for his next LP. The songs are: "Room Full of Mirrors", "Ezy Ryder", "Power of Soul" and the Band of Gypsys single "Stepping Stone" b/w "Izabella", released a week after the LP, but back on Reprise records. This original version of "Stepping Stone" was later given new guitar overdubs, Miles' drums were replaced by Mitchell and it was re-mixed by Hendrix, towards releasing it on his next LP. These songs have been released in several posthumous Hendrix albums. The album Band of Gypsys
— released in March 1970 (US) June (UK)— made the Top 10 on both sides of the Atlantic, and stayed in the US charts for over a year. Hendrix' final extensive tour (he 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 a very disappointing two song show at Madison Square Gardens and these were all in New York City apart 'Woodstock' in New York state) and his tragic early death on the back off it on September 18, 1970, causing the album to sell more and for a longer period. There are now videos of Buddy and Randy Hansen covering several of Jimi's songs on a major website.
Buddy Miles went on to produce other records under his own name. A song he had written and recorded with the Band of Gypsys, "Them Changes" was again recorded by Miles with his own band on a release on Mercury Records soon after Hendrix's death. Miles' former Band Of Gypsys sideman, Billy Cox, performed bass guitar on this track. The Buddy Miles Express had split prior to the Band of Gypsys being formed and Buddy Miles just used his own name now. That band included bassist David Hull (who would go on to work with Joe Perry of Aerosmith), guitarist Charlie Karp, the band Farrenheit (with Charlie Farren), and The James Montgomery Blues Band. The Buddy Miles Band would release a live album entitled Live
which again included his by now signature song, "Them Changes". In late 1968, they appeared in The Monkees' television special 33/3 Revolutions Per Monkee
which aired in April 1969.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 is produced by Buddy Miles and Robin McBride. It comprises 5 songs including the instrumental "Easy Greasy". High energy drumming with funky overtones and big horns make this album quintessential Buddy. The other cuts on the album are: "Runaway Child (Little Miss Nothin)", "Walking Down the Highway", "We Got To Live Together", "Take It Off Him and Put It On Me". All the songs were written by Buddy Miles with C.Karp except for "Take it Off...".In 1973, Miles did an album with Adrian Gurvitz (from The Gun) called Chapter VII
(this album has photos of Miles and his family along with some shots of Carlos Santana, Jimi Hendrix and Sly Stone).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 blazing guitar work supplied by a very young and energetic Santana. Miles would then go on to be signed by the '70s-'80s era record label, Casablanca Records, best known for their 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. That quote would include the line "When we neglect the heroic past of the American Indian, we thereby weaken our own heritage." 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. From 1994 to 2007 Buddy Miles formulated his new version on the Buddy Miles Express in the N.Y.C. area with Charlie Torres on bass guitar and vocals. Rod Kohn on Guitar and vocals . Kenn Moutenot on drums / vocals / management, and now longest standing B.M.E. member and band leader Mark " Muggie Doo" Leach on Hammond B3, background vocals and Keyboards. They toured nearly non stop in the United States and overseas with almost one thousand concerts and festivals to their credit. Buddy also composed and recorded many songs with this new version of the Buddy Miles Express that are yet to be released. It was Buddy's most enduring live band throughout his illustrious career. This popular touring line up lasted for six fruitful years together with the same members. The band continued on with Miles and Leach and a host of other players until Buddy's passing.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 their spirited version of Jimi Hendrix"s "Wind Cries Mary" on the Blue Haze, Songs of Jimi Hendrix
album in 2001. The duo along with sax man Patrick Gage and bassist Dave Blackerby also released the Buddy Miles Express's 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.
The Club Fed Sessions
In late 1984-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 (Pablo Cruise), Pat Craig and Dave Carlson (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 featuring some of the best singing work that Miles ever did. One cut, "When The Train Leaves the Station," featured solos by both Carlos Santana and Neal Schon from Journey. The title song of the proposed album, "Anna", 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 was also lead vocals on two California Raisins albums featuring 1960s R&B covers. In 1986 and 1987, he also rejoined Carlos Santana as a vocalist on Santana's album Freedom.
In 1987-88, Buddy moved to Southern California and formed the line up of Marlo Henderson on Guitar, Derek Sherinian on keyboards, and Michael BeHolden on Bass. The band toured around the California coast, then eventually did a tour of the Chitlin' Circuit in the deep south before disbanding in early 1989. In 1996, he sat in with rock band Phish at Madison Square Garden. also in 1996 Miles did several dates with Frank Damelio's NJ based blues band Rock'n Daddy, that 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), Phil, after a rehearsal gave Buddy one of his prized Fender Strats that Buddy fell in love with while using in his guitar playing parts of their shows, Through the late 1990s, Miles' charitable side was seen in his band's playing pro bono at several annual tribute concerts for local friend and fan Linda Gillespie, who had been killed in a car accident in the Spring of 1994 in Winthrop Harbor, IL. While residing in Chicago in 1990, Miles formed MST with guitarist Kevon Smith and Joe Thomas. They recorded Hell and Back in 1994. They toured the US and Europe until 1997 and can be seen in the Tribute to Jimi Hendrix - CAS (1997) DVD directed by Patrick Savey featuring Buddy Miles, Kevon Smith and Joe Thomas.In 1997 Buddy Miles relocated to Fort Worth, Texas. He began collaborating with young guitarist from Dallas, Texas, Lance Lopez. The former Band Of Gypsys legend would go on to mentor Lopez, leading to him co producing his debut album 'First Things First', along with Grammy winning producer Jay Newland (Norah Jones) which was released independently in 1999Buddy Miles was seen in the Hendrix-family-owned, official video release The Making of Electric Ladyland
on Rhino Records. That video featured interviews with the majority of players who were involved in recording the legendary Hendrix album. Miles even went as far as to be video recorded playing his same drum tracks yet again in the studio to the original multi-track recordings of Hendrix. In 1999 Miles appeared on the late Bruce Cameron's album, Midnight Daydream
that included other Hendrix alumni Billy Cox and Mitch Mitchell along with Jack Bruce and others.In 2004 Miles reunited yet again with Billy Cox of the Band of Gypsys to re-record songs from the original live album of 1970 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, Buddy Miles continued to be active musically and performed many shows with proceeds going to help support victims of natural disasters and other noble causes.Buddy Miles is credited on sessions with George Clinton/Parliament/Funkadelic.In 2005 Buddy Miles began collaborating with Florida-based guitar virtuoso Tony Smotherman in which 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.
Buddy Miles died on February 26, 2008, at his home in Austin, Texas at the age of 60. His family was 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 is known that his heart had certainly been struggling, working at only 15%, and his health had been consistently deteriorating over the past few months. According to friends, "he had turned off his defibrillator and was ready for heaven." There was no funeral; 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 for Buddy Miles in its Friday February 29, 2008 edition. The title for the piece was "Buddy Miles: Flamboyant Hendrix drummer", and can be found on page 47.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." A memorial concert took place on March 30, 2008 at Threadgill's on Riverside Drive, South Austin.