Any teenager growing up during the late 1960s, who had even a mild interest in rock music, most likely had a copy of In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida somewhere around the house. Several years later it was still a staple on my college radio station playlist.
Iron Butterfly changed members a number of times before settling on their classic line-up of vocalist/organist Doug Ingle, bassist Lee Dorman, drummer Ron Bushy, and guitarist Erik Braunn. Dorman and Bushy are still on the road as Iron Butterfly with new members.
They were part of an important musical movement during the mid-to-late 1960s. They were a psychedelic rock band that was on the verge of moving over into hard rock, while looking ahead to a metal sound. Music was changing and they were a part of that change.
They released several high charting albums of credible hard psychedelic rock and were commercially successful. They would probably be remembered as a nice footnote in rock history if it were not for the b-side of their second studio album, In-A-Gadda-Da Vida, the album and the song, which became a 17-minute rock anthem. The album has sold close to 25 million copies to date.
The album had a flow to it as the tracks on the first side of the original vinyl release progress from a lighter sound to that with a harder edge, until it reaches its apex on the second side.
“Most Anything You Want” was a love song and got the album off to a somewhat inauspicious start. “Flowers and Beads” had a light rock sound on a song that was right out of the summer of love. By the third track, “”My Mirage,” a song dedicated to a deceased friend, memorable chords and harmonies were present. “Termination” featured some hard and strong guitar lines. “Are You Happy” was a basic hard rock song with a driving guitar sound and thundering drums.
No matter what your views and thoughts about side one, it was all a set up for the lone track on side two. The title track, “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,” was originally to have been “In The Garden Of Eden” but somehow the words were slurred or misinterpreted. The band liked the corrupted version and so the lyrics stayed that way. The organ, guitar, and especially the drum solo were some of the best in rock history up until that time.
In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida may sound a little dated today but if not overplayed it remains a good listen and is a virtual history lesson about how to construct an extended track. It may be overblown and clichéd but it was also innovative and influential and deserves some respect. Give it a listen.