BUDDY MILES | THE BAND OF GYPSY’S FUNKY BADASS MOTHER DRUMMER

Buddy Miles– blues/rock funkmaster legend if there ever was one.  Miles was given the nickname “Buddy” as a child by his aunt– after the original drumming legend, Buddy Rich.  He and Jimi worked their way up in the music scene together around the same time– Buddy playing in various jazz, soul, R&B, and rock acts before finally co-founding the short-lived Electric Flag. The band’s first album, Electric Church, was even produced by Hendrix.  Miles returned the favor and recorded with Hendrix on Electric Ladyland. Later, with his signature afro and psychedelic get-ups that rivaled even Jimi– he, along with bass player Billy Cox, backed Hendrix in Band of Gypsys after the disbanding of The Jimi Hendrix Experience. They had an amazing and funky chemistry that really riffed.  It’s been said that the Band of Gypsy’s album, recorded New Year’s Eve ’69 – New Year’s Day ’70, was primarily an obligatory move on Jimi’s part– as he owed the record company another album under the terms of his contract.  Who really cares, if that was in fact the case?  It worked, but unfortunately not for very long.  By the end of January they were done– disbanded following the infamous show at MSG.  And no, man– we aren’t going to talk about them California Raisins.  R.I.P. Buddy Miles.

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1968– Buddy Miles and Jimi Hendrix recording Electric Ladyland, The Record Plant, NYC — © Eddie Kramer  “Jimi had a long standing warm relationship with Buddy Miles.  As one can tell from this photo, Jimi and Buddy can hardly contain their laughter. One of Jimi’s most endearing traits was his amazing sense of humor.  Even though at times it was directed at myself, Mitch and Noel, his humor was often quite self-deprecating.  This was all done in the desire to keep the session loose!” — EK

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Jimi Hendrix (Lucky Lager) and Buddy Miles, of the all-black badass funky rock trio Band of Gypsys.

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Jimi Hendrix on bass, Johnny Winter on guitar, and Buddy Miles on drums Feb. of ’69 at The Scene. — © Bill Nitopi (via)

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1969– Buddy Miles and Jimi Hendrix onstage together at the Newport Pop Festival.

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1975, Hollywood, CA — Buddy Miles with WTF Kustom Kar — Image by © Neal Preston/CORBIS

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Buddy Miles on his awesome red, white & blue Harley chopper trike.

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Cruising on his star-spangled Harley trike–

If you remember Rock and Roll, you may remember Buddy Miles as the drummer in a group called the Electric Flag.  That was a pretty cool group– they carried around this little electric-powered American flag that waved and sparkled while the band played.  Well, the old electric flag is long gone and Buddy Miles is now a star in his own right, but he still likes to do a little flag-waving.  Except he does it these days with this starred and striped Harley-Davidson trike.  The trike was designed by Miles, with the help of fellow Novato, California resident Glen Thorsen, who also did the actual construction work.  The basic ’57 Harley was converted to trike form with the help of a Ford rear-end.  To coax a little more power out of the engine, ’69 Sportster barrels were installed.  That incredible seat was also designed by Miles and built by William Schneider.

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More shots of Buddy Miles’ Harley chopper trike.

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Full page pic of Buddy Miles’ Harley chopper trike. (viaJust a Car Guy)*

21 thoughts on “BUDDY MILES | THE BAND OF GYPSY’S FUNKY BADASS MOTHER DRUMMER

  1. Badass. Dude could sing. Not to mention that insane groove he possessed. His foot is so on point with that kick drum (or just perfectly enough off point, perhaps).

  2. Two anecdotes about Buddy Miles.

    Frank Zappa in The Real Frank Zappa Book talks about Jimi Hendrix visiting him at home with Buddy who instantly passed out on the couch. Jimi demonstrated some dance moves and his decked out green velvet pants ripped so Frank’s wife had to sew them back. Next Jimi woke up Buddy and they left. Buddy seems like a fun guy!

    I saw Buddy on Italian TV years ago. He said at one point he went to prison once. When asked why he answered “because I was tired”.

    His groove and his singing are the trademarks of Band of Gyspsies.

  3. Dig that photo of Buddy with the cane and the car!

    But I must point out that it is most definitely not a vintage car. It’s some kind of wild-ass reproduction, like an Excalibur or something like that.

    Can anyone identify it?

    • I feel you, but seein’ as how the photo is 35 years old- I’d call it vintage. Whatever it is, it’s badass.

  4. In the second photo, Jimi’s holding a tall-boy can of “Lucky Lager”, an old-time iconic West Coast Canadian beer… Wonder if that picture was taken in Vancouver, BC?

    Jimi was a frequent visitor and played the infamous “Smiling Buddha” nightclub quite few times.

  5. Pingback: WINTER WHITES | JOHNNY & EDGAR LEGENDARY WINTER BROTHERS « The Selvedge Yard

  6. Buddy Miles…….Buddy Miles Express, Electric Flag……great memories at the Shrine Auditorium in L.A. Greatest Drummer !!!

    • I worked with Buddy for a short time in the late 70′s right after his release from Chino. An amazing talent with a big heart, and a lot of fun!

  7. My father, Glenn Thorsson, painted that three-wheeler. Took first place in the Oakland Roadster show. He still has the trophy at his shop in Novato, CA.

    Buddy was a friend of the family and a great guy. I was just a little kid during the heyday and what I remember was that he was just a big sweetheart, he’d even let me play his drum set. Imagine how I feel about that now!

    It was hard to watch him go through the hard times but he always seemed to keep snapping back since he had such great talent. I remember getting invited to watch him record one time at the Record Plants late in his career. It was just a thrill to hear him perform. There will not be another Buddy Miles.

  8. Buddy Miles’ drumming was like the Rock of Gibraltar, and he was a master guitarist/vocalist. His arrangement of “Down by the River”, and his drumming on “Who Knows”….I can never get enough of either. I had the pleasure of jamming and hanging out with Buddy on a number occasions and he has always been one of my greatest idols. One of my former bosses, (Little Richard) introduced me to Buddy at the Record Plant in Los Angeles when Buddy was recording his Chapter 7 album. What an honor (and suprise) it was to meet Buddy, only wish I could have done the same with Jimi Hendrix, as he passed away before I was able to cross paths with him. I am sure Buddy and Jimi are jamming to thier hearts content in heaven. Long live the spirit of Buddy, Jimi, and the Band of Gypsies.

    Robin Russell
    Drummer, New Birth

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