Thursday, June 13, 2024

Doug Ingle, Iron Butterfly Singer and Organist, Dead at 78

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Doug Ingle, the founding singer and organist of the late Sixties hard rock band Iron Butterfly and the co-writer of the group’s hit “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,” has died at the age of 78.

The singer’s son Doug Ingle Jr. confirmed his father’s death on social media (via Blabbermouth), “It’s with a heavy heart & great sadness to announce the passing of my Father Doug Ingle. Dad passed away peacefully [Friday] evening [May 24] in the presence of family.” No cause of death was provided.

Ingle was the last surviving member of Iron Butterfly’s “classic,” In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida-era lineup: Guitarist Erik Brann died in 2003 at the age of 52, bassist Lee Dornan died in 2012 at the age of 70, and drummer Ron Bushy died in 2021 at the age of 79.

Of the four musicians in the In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida lineup, Ingle was the only one who was a founding member, having formed Iron Butterfly in San Diego in 1966. After a handful of lineup changes, a five-piece Iron Butterfly including Ingle and Bushy put out the band’s debut Heavy in 1968; soon after release, the other three members left and were replaced by Brann and Dornan, resulting in the lineup that would create the 17-minute psych-rock epic “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.”

Released less than six months after Heavy and the lineup shuffle, In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida would sell a reported 30 million copies worldwide, and a three-minute version of the title track — whose title was based on Bushy’s mishearing of “In the Garden of Eden” — became a Top 5 hit on the Hot 100 and a classic rock staple.

“‘In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida’ was written as a slow country ballad, about one-and-a-half minutes long,” Bushy told It’s Psychedelic Baby magazine in 2020. “I came home late one night and Doug [Ingle] had been drinking a whole gallon of Red Mountain wine. I asked him what he had done, while he has been playing a slow ballad on his Vox keyboard. It was hard to understand him because he was so drunk … so I wrote it down on a napkin exactly how it sounded phonetically to me: ‘In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.’ It was supposed to be ‘In the Garden of Eden.’”


The classic lineup quickly attempted to capitalize on the success with 1969’s Ball, which was primarily written by Ingle, but the album failed to yield any hit singles. The singer remained with Iron Butterfly for one more studio album, 1970’s Metamorphosis, before the band broke up in 1971, in part due to debts the band incurred from the mismanagement.

When Bushy and Brann reunited Iron Butterfly in 1975, Ingle did not take part, though he did perform with some of the countless iterations of Iron Butterfly that toured over the ensuing decades, including most recently in 1999.

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