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Buddy Miles

Best known as the drummer in Jimi Hendrix's Band of Gypsys, Buddy Miles also had a lengthy solo career that drew from rock, blues, soul, and funk in varying combinations. Born George Miles in Omaha, NE, on September 5, 1947, he started playing the drums at age nine, and joined his father's jazz band the Bebops as a mere 12 year old. As a teenager, he went on to play with several jazz and R&B outfits, most prominently backing vocal groups like Ruby & the Romantics, the Ink Spots, and the Delfonics. In 1966, he joined Wilson Pickett's touring revue, where he was spotted by blues-rock guitarist Mike Bloomfield. Bloomfield had left the Paul Butterfield Blues Band earlier in 1967 and was putting together a new group, the Electric Flag, which was slated to be an ambitious fusion of rock, soul, blues, psychedelia, and jazz. Bloomfield invited Miles to join up, and the band made its debut at the Monterey Pop Festival; unfortunately, the original lineup splintered in 1968. With founder Bloomfield gone, Miles briefly took over leadership of the band on its second studio album, which failed to reignite the public's interest.

With the Electric Flag's horn section in tow, Miles split to form his own group, the similarly eclectic Buddy Miles Express. Signed to Mercury, the group issued its debut album, Expressway to Your Skull, in 1968, with Miles' fellow Monterey Pop alum Jimi Hendrix in the producer's chair. In turn, Miles played on Hendrix's Electric Ladyland album, and later took part in an all-star jam session that resulted in Muddy Waters' Fathers and Sons album. Hendrix also produced the Miles Express' follow-up, 1969's Electric Church, and disbanded his backing band the Experience later that year; shortly afterward, Hendrix, Miles, and bassist Billy Cox formed Band of Gypsys, one of the first all-black rock bands. Bluesier and funkier than Hendrix's previous work, Band of Gypsys didn't last long in its original incarnation; Miles departed in 1970, replaced by Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell, but not before his powerhouse work was showcased on the group's lone album, the live Band of Gypsys.

After backing John McLaughlin on 1970's Devotion, Miles returned to the role of bandleader and recorded his most popular album, Them Changes, in 1971; it stayed on the charts for more than a year, and the title cut became Miles' signature song. From December 1971 to April 1972, Miles toured with Carlos Santana, which produced the CBS-released concert document Carlos Santana & Buddy Miles! Live!; recorded inside an inactive volcano in Hawaii, the album sold very well, climbing into the Top Ten. Miles cut a few more albums for CBS, participated in a short-lived Electric Flag reunion in 1974, then moved to Casablanca in 1975 for a pair of LPs. Aside from a one-off album for Atlantic in 1981 (Sneak Attack), Miles kept a low profile over the next decade, partly to battle personal problems.

Miles returned in 1986 as the lead voice in a TV ad campaign that featured clay-animated raisins singing "I Heard It Through the Grapevine"; the ads proved so popular that a kid-friendly musical franchise was spun off, and thus Miles became the lead singer of the California Raisins, performing on two albums (mostly R&B covers) and a Christmas special. Additionally, Miles rejoined his old friend Carlos Santana as the official lead vocalist of Santana during part of the late '80s, making his studio debut on 1987's Freedom. In the early '90s, Miles played with Bootsy Collins (both solo and as members of Hardware), and in 1994 he formed a new version of the Express and recorded Hell and Back for Rykodisc. Miles Away From Home followed in 1997 on Hip-O. Miles toured steadily through the '90s, and subsequently formed a more straightforward blues band called the Blues Berries with guitarist Rocky Athas; their first album, Blues Berries, appeared on Ruf in 2002. ~ Steve Huey, Rovi
full bio

Comments

jill_177
I bought the same 'strat' Jimi had for my little brother...
jill_177
People may have not what I added to my love for Jimi by bringing up how I wish people would stop doing so many hard drugs? But I loved Jimi Hendrix he was thee best! I played guitar and so did my little brother who I bought the same start Jimi had & my brother died at 18 from drugs too. He was a great person. Too early...
vaughnc
I'm his cousin and remember when he was in the backyard beating on trash cans. He could beat some skins for sure. Just gifted
johnny8thech a l k
Buddy came in my family's bar when he was living in my hometown in Wisconsin, he was extremely friendly. He walked me out to his car to show me a guitar that Jimi owned, which was awesome. I was a bit too young to hear his music as I was growing up, but I've since gone back to hear how great a musician this man was.
mickbeme5
I was fortunate to see Hendrix twice b-4 he passed away. I feel blessed! !!
My uncle Milton turned me on to Buddy Miles when I was 8 yrs old. Big thanks to my uncle !!! X
I first heard B uddy Miles with The E lectric F lag.I have heard drummers say he was not great.I disagree.He had a powerful sound and it sounded great.Someth i n g about just the right touch at the right time.
carl_ashley_ 1 9 9 9
Hey, I was hooked very early ,his music held us for a good while and held us strong an made us so observant too the Changes in Society,an the World as a whole an yet they just don't makem like they use too Lord help this next generation that's just not ready for what's coming AsAlwaysLove T o o A l l .
What a man love his music best song to me Down By The River.
btl1757
What about his live album with the Buddy miles Express Band. I loved his version of Down By the River.
RIP THE MIGHTY BAD A** AND INCREDIBLY GREAT BUDDY MILES!
Back in the early 70's I played in a cover band with a horn section. One of my favorite artists was Buddy Miles, and Electric Flag. If you wanted to get them on the dance floor, all you had to do was play something by Buddy, and that got 'em going. Too bad Buddy left us so early in life.
jtucker42
Great music. I was big Jimi fan when I was a kid, but I had never heard of Buddy Miles until he came up on one my stations. Wow. Back in the day, the supporting artists often didn't get the recognition they deserved. I hate it when I discover these great artists after the fact, but its better late than never I guess. Jimi left us way to early, but people are still jamming to Jimi. So, Buddy Miles is still here, with his music...
kvons1
Another true great that left us far too early. RIP: Buddy
R.I.P. BUDDY It's been a few since you have passed this world, but you live in our hearts always with your music. GOD BLESS YOU BUD
bdcollin6
Why has the live album never been released it is one of my favorite albums ever!
Still sounds good. Had the pleasure of seeing him in late seventy. I think it was New Hampshire college. Sat about twety five feet from him, I remember his red, white and blue boots. Thought the boots were the coolest thing I ever saw. The music was great too.
This big guy can play. He can make you shake your body. Boggy all night
I love Buddy Miles. He is one of my favorite singers and drummers. My favorite song is on Jimi Hendrix's live album "We've got to live together"
I was jammin with Buddy in the 1994 or so in my basement in Omaha. We wrote some songs and had some cassettes of them, very rough. It was the genesis of a band that fizzeled. Wish I knew where those tapes were right now, though I am sure I could find them eventually. He was a rockin, authoritive drummer with a killer, soulful voice. It was a blast to hang with him and hear his stories.
What is problem with re release of live album? One of best ever
chapduck

I got to see this great artist in Salem , Oregon in 1970, at the Salem Armory. I knew the doorman and my wife,(girlfr i e n d at the time) and I got in way early as the group was setting up. There was Buddy up on stage playing the guitar and he was a lefty, like his friend, Jimi Hendrix. He played very well too. Just a fond remembrance of a special moment with a great artist and group. Great show, by the way! Loved it!
down by the river is my cut
Buddy Miles was a great vocalist and drummer. I love his raw soul sound. one of the best songs was ever "down by the river" although my favorite is "we got to live together". although he is gone may he rest in peace and may his music live on.
romerodc4
I had the honor of hearing Buddy Miles play at Woodland Park, Co. I not only went once but twice. He was awesome. His music needs to played more,and recognized for the great musician he was. My favorite songs was "Down by the River". It was very sad when I heard he passed away.
I can't stop by this spot without leaving a note about Buddy and what his music meant to me and a lot of like-minded bros & sisters in Atlanta during those unforgettabl e years. "Hey, Man, "put on "Down By The River, Yo!!!" jbhawklaw@ya h o o . c o m
i remember listening to the them changes album when it was first released. that band was smokin hot! the horn section along with buddys kick a** chops was electric! mgb319
why won't anyone out there make A PLACE OVER THERE THE SEGMENT available, for at least radio listening? it is his hottest creation. i have the album. i have burned it to a cd. but, it would be AWESOME for it to be available for people to hear and appreciate. his entire band was AWESOME. his video on You Tube "TEXAS", 1969, UK is a prime of example of his band and himself. the hippie era has returned, and his song a "PLACE OVER THERE/THE SEGMENT", all 18 minutes, and "TEXAS" need to be here (*_*)
I grew up with buddy is sioux falls in the 1960s he has the best band in town at that. Great spirit with greater talent.
definity amust hear type drummer.
What a skin kicker this guy was! One of the original Band of Gypsys!!
Is 1981's "Sneak Attack" available anywhere- it rocked!!

RIP
What was the name of the albums that he made as a California Raisin?
As a back-up singer I never went to a jam without hearing Buddy's "Mind/Change s " no one does it as good as you Buddy......
REST IN PEACE BUDDY YOURE THE GREATEST
He's already greatly missed...I'm still listening.
....n dont tell him to rest in peace, cuz he aint restin unless sombody is makin him....
Buddy passed away peacfully in his home in Austin Tx feb 26th 2008...
The best drummer under the sun. I been listening to Miles since the 70's.

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