Buddy Miles R.I.P


Buddy Miles looking BAAAADAAAASSSSSS!



Listen – Buddy Miles – Dreams – MP3″

Listen – Buddy Miles – Down By the River – MP3″

Listen – Ramsey Lewis – Them Changes – MP3″

Greetings all.

I come to a little early with my end of the week post as the bearer of sad news. The great drummer/vocalist/songwriter Buddy Miles has passed away at the age of 60.

I don’t know if there was something ominous in the wind, but I just recently digi-ma-tized a couple of tracks by Buddy (as well as a very groovy cover of his signature tune) for inclusion here on the blog, and it saddens me that I now have to post them in memorial.

I first heard the voice – and powerful drums – of Buddy Miles as a teenager, when I grabbed my first copy of the ‘Band of Gypsys’ LP. There, providing the propulsion behind Jimi Hendrix’s post-Experience band was Miles, even taking the lead on the song that would become his trademark, ‘Them Changes’.

Miles, who was born in Omaha, Nebraska in 1947 (also home to none other than Preston Love) started working as a professional musician when he was still a child, eventually doing time (as did so many of his contemporaries) backing touring R&B and soul acts.

It was during one such gig that he was recruited by Mike Bloomfield – then with the Butterfield Blues Band – to be the drummer in his new band, the Electric Flag.

Following the dissolution of that group, Miles formed his own band, The Buddy Miles Express. Their first and second LPs were produced by none other than Jimi Hendrix. When the Jimi Hendrix Experience broke up in 1970, Hendrix formed Band of Gypsys with his old Army buddy Billy Cox on bass, and Buddy Miles on drums.

I’ve always dug Hendrix’s work with the Band of Gypsys because it marked a turning point in his sound, bringing forth the soulful underpinnings that were always there. Having a singer like Buddy Miles in the fold had a lot to do with that. Hendrix was notoriously unhappy with his own singing (unjustifiably in my opinion), and having a powerful singer like Buddy Miles at his disposal (mainly as backing, but occasionally in the lead) added a new texture to his sound .

The band only lasted for one album (and a posthumous release) before Miles went back out on his own, to be replaced by Experience drummer Mitch Mitchell.

Miles first recorded ‘Them Changes’ with Band of Gypsys, a full year before making it the title tune of his first post-BOG solo album. The tune was not only a hit for Miles, but went on to a number of excellent cover versions by Big John Hamilton and Doris Allen, Lionel Hampton, Paul Humphrey, King Curtis, and in the version I’m including today, the great Ramsey Lewis.

Miles went on to record in a wide variety of settings with his own groups and in collaboration with artists like Carlos Santana.

Oddly enough, there’s probably an entire generation that knows Miles’ voice, but not his name, as he was the vocalist behind the famed California Raisins TV commercials.

Two of the three cuts I’m posting today originate on Miles’ 1970 ‘Them Changes’ LP, both of them soulful covers of then popular rock tunes.

The first, a version of the Allman Brothers’ ‘Dreams’ is by far my favorite, with a fantastic vocal by Buddy, and a very nice re-arrangement of the song, including a subtle shout out to Otis Redding.

The second is an extended reading of Neil Young’s ‘Down By the River’, also very cool.

The one Buddy Miles cover I’ve included is an epic take on ‘Them Changes’ by Ramsey Lewis, from his own 1970 LP, also titled ‘Them Changes’. Ramsey tears it up on the electric piano, and hold on for an extended break by Morris Jennings Jr. in the second half of the record.

That all said, I hope you dig the sounds, and take the time to raise a glass to Buddy Miles sometime this weekend.

The man had soul.


24 Responses to “Buddy Miles R.I.P”

  1. dean Says:

    Buddy was highly underrated. Jimi played his best when he was behind the skins.

  2. Jeff Says:

    A great one, indeed.

    If you’re curious about the Lionel Hampton cover of “Them Changes” mentioned by Larry, go back and get Larry’s Funky 16 Corners Radio Vol. 7 mix — Funky Shingaling. It’s on there.

  3. funky16corners Says:

    Thanks for the trackback Jeff! I forgot all about that one.

  4. Songs I’ve Downloaded This Week « Someday I Will Treat You Good Says:

    […] Ramsey Lewis – Them Changes […]

  5. Brian Phillips Says:

    Thank you for the post. This is the first I have heard of it. “Memphis Train” was also a wonderful song of his.

  6. Alan Torres Says:

    I started playing guitar when I was 13. When I was 14 my dad said “Here, listen to this.” It was his copy of Band of Gypsys. The album changed my life, and it wasn’t just Jimi’s guitar playing. The band was so loose and so tight at the same time. To this day, it’s still the album that has influenced me most. I’m a metal guitarist, but that album taught me what is was to be in a group. Rest in peace Buddy.

  7. Jim Says:

    Band of Gypsys was easily one of the ALLTIME classic live albums. If not the ALLTIME Classic LIVE album….
    Rest in peace Buddy…..will never forget you….

  8. ben Says:

    such a sad news
    such a great music

  9. slsmithsr Says:

    Tom Scott has asizzling version of The Changes” that you might want to hear.

  10. Vincent the Soul Chef Says:

    wow. I had my hands on the Buddy Miles Express LP when I was out today and didn’t pick it up. I hope it’s still there tomorrow.

    Thank you Buddy… for EVERYTHING!

  11. whiteray Says:

    Great post, Larry, and sad news indeed. Buddy’s reviews were always mixed, but I love the man’s stuff.

  12. Planet Mondo Says:

    Console yourselves with this piece of amazingness English ‘dance troupe’ Pan’s People doing a sauce and scatter cushions routine to Buddy Miles

  13. Dinesh Allirajah Says:

    What a man – being remembered as a Hendrix acolyte is a pretty good deal overall but he deserves to be remembered for far more. RIP.

  14. LUPE Says:

    His music is something I will always remember

  15. JaKe Says:

    Damn — thanks man. I’m really bummed about Buddy’s death. One hell of a soul brother, so rare these days. He’ll be missed by drummers everywhere.

  16. maxwell Says:

    I went over to my friend’s house & I shared a mix w/ ’em. I’d borrowed a few tunes from your site, so I showed ’em Funky16corners to explain the ideas of sharing fantastic music & educating folks.

    As soon as this picture of Buddy Miles came up my friend (who is himself a talented musician) just went off — lamenting his death & talking about Buddy Miles. He talked about seeing him at an after hours club in the midwest. We told tales and listened to music for a while.

    Thanks for the connections, inspirations, and recognitions.

  17. funky16corners Says:

    Thank Maxwell. That kind of thing is what it’s all about here.

  18. Jbird Says:

    I had the opportunity to be the Sound Tech in a small club in North Florida where for two weeks Buddy spent a vacation there for two weeks. He was an amazing person. I will never forget how he rocked the house with his talents as a Drummer, Vocalist and Guitarist. His backup band was incredible-Hammond B3, Bassist and Guitarist (Rod). The Place was Sliders in Amelia Island, Fernadina Beach, Florida. I acquired a drum kit for him for the entire stay and cudos goes out to a fellow friend Dwayne Wade for the use and his talents as a backup drummer for Buddy.
    I will miss all of his energy. Peace by with you Buddy Miles, say hello to my wife.
    Peace Be With You,
    Jaii Hein aka Jbird

  19. Blues Musician Says:

    I just love the names of these blues musicians. They always sound cool.

  20. mugson Says:

    Please, please be kind, and let those of us late to the party hear some of the lionel hampton funk sides….an act of charity

  21. funky16corners Says:

    If you go the Funky16Corners Radio Podcast Archive and check out Vols 3 and 7 you will find one track each (maybe the two best IMHO) of the funky side of Lionel Hampton, including his version of ‘Them Changes’.

  22. shaunzo Says:

    is this the really soulful version with male vocals? i heard this in a grocery store of all places, but i haven’t found the right version. i really wanna sample the horn line in the bridge that also serves as the intro, but i wanna use that soulful version can anyone help? shaunzito@gmail.com

  23. Anourag Says:

    Another album from 1972 propelled by Buddy is John McLaughlin’s “Devotion” originally on the Douglas label, well worth checkin out. (Also on that album is the wonderful, Late, Larry Young on organ).

  24. Glenn Says:

    Help Please…….Buddy Miles is a GOD……..I had an 8 track of Buddy Miles Live double album back in the day and would appreciate it if anyone could get me a cd, or know where I can get a download of this
    Thanking you in advance

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