Matt Potter 3:30 p.m., Nov. 20
Iron Butterfly Archive Releasing 1968 Fillmore East Show
Iron Butterfly made its New York City debut at the Fillmore East in the spring of 1968, recording all four shows from April 26 and 27. The tapes reveal the San Diego-born quartet (singer/organist Doug Ingle, bassist Lee Dorman, then 17 year-old guitarist Erik Brann, and drummer Ron Bushy) on the verge of its defining success, mixing tracks from its first album Heavy with songs that would appear two months later on the band's multi-platinum magnum opus, In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida.
Rhino's limited edition label imprint Handmade will release Fillmore East 1968, a double-disc CD set with these previously unreleased performances, on October 17.
Meticulously restored from the original half-inch four-track recorder tapes (run at fifteen ips), music journalist and liner note author David Fricke describes the CD set as "the sound of hard-rock immortality in the making."
For the performances, the band drew material primarily from the just-released Heavy album, playing the tough yet nimble “Unconscious Power” in the early show both nights, and closing all four sets with the potent one-two punch of “So-Lo” and “Iron Butterfly Theme.” They also used the Fillmore concerts to showcase three songs from what would become their second album, including “Are You Happy,” “My Mirage,” and title track “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,” which the group deployed at length during the second set on both nights.
According to Fricke, “These recordings, from that spring weekend in 1968, catch Iron Butterfly and 'In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida' at a transformative point and ferocious pitch, a great acid-garage band with sharp pop instincts, hardened and tightened by long service on the Sunset Strip, about to establish a lasting definition of heavy rock.”
"I can still rock," says Danny Weis, co-founder of Iron Butterfly. The guitarist, who lives in Canada, spent the majority of his youth in El Cajon.
"I fondly remember the years I would go see my dad, Johnny Weis, play guitar, backing people from the Grand Ole Opry at Bostonia Ballroom in El Cajon," says Weis. "I was age 9 to 12, and I used to stand right in front of the stage and lean on it with my elbows. I wasn't too tall then, I guess. I remember Johnny Cash playing right in front of me with my dad backing him on guitar with the band. [Cash] always remembered me and would stoop right in front of me, saying, 'Folsom Prison?' I said 'yes' with joy."
Weis picked up a guitar at around age 12 and by 13 was playing with local bands.
"I was always the youngest musician, as the others were all 18 to 21. I had trouble with club managers, as I looked so very young. They wanted me to dye my hair black and put on a fake mustache to look older. I didn't."
With Doug Ingle, Weis formed Iron Butterfly in 1966.
"We sought a band name that was heavy, so to speak, and also beautiful. Not long after, we all got into Darryl DeLoach's, God rest his soul, black hearse and moved to Hollywood, California."
Weis quit Iron Butterfly soon after recording Heavy in Hollywood. He went on to play with the Rascals, Lou Reed, Alice Cooper, and the Everly Brothers.
"My early musical experiences in San Diego County would shape my entire career...there was a lot of jazz, country, and R&B."
On October 3, 2002, original guitarist/vocalist Darryl DeLoach died of liver cancer at the age of 56.
On July 31, 2003 Erik Brann died of cardiac failure at the age of 52. He was working on a new solo album at the time of his death. The album remains unreleased, although friends and family are working on seeing its release.
In 2004, the group was re-formed and touring with early members Ron Bushy and Lee Dorman. Weis's solo album Sweet Spot was released in June, 2006.
Legend has it that Iron Butterfly ALMOST played at the 1969 Woodstock music festival. According to festival co-creator Michael Lang in his 2009 book The Road to Woodstock:
“Iron Butterfly was booked for Sunday afternoon, but John Morris [production coordinator and stage MC] told me that their agent had called with a last-minute demand for a helicopter to pick them up...apparently the agent had a real attitude, and we were up to our eyeballs in problems. So I told John to tell him to forget it; we had more important things to deal with.”
The band was presented with a Lifetime Achievement Award at the September 2010 San Diego Music Awards ceremony, accepted by bassist Dorman. Mayor Sanders and longtime local DJ Jim McInnes presented the Award. They embarked on a European tour September 22.
(Portions of above band history compiled from various Reader articles by various authors, including Dave Stampone, Bart Mendoza, and Jeremiah Griffey)