Modern music lost another great with the passing of rock and funk drummer (and sometime singer) Buddy Miles, best known as member/co-founder of Band Of Gypsys with Jimi Hendrix, who died yesterday (Feb 26th) at only 60 years of age. So far a cause of death has not been announced.
During Miles' long career, in addition to Jimi Hendrix, he performed with such artists as George Clinton, Stevie Wonder, Carlos Santana, Barry White and David Bowie. Earlier on in his career, in his pre-Hendrix days, the young Omaha, Nebraska-born percussionist played with Wilson Pickett, Ruby and the Romantics, The Delfonics, and The Ink Spots. A child prodigy, he initially played in his father's (George Sr.) band The Bebops.
But it was as musical collaborator with Jimi Hendrix that he truly made his artistic mark - first teaming up with the guitar legend in 1969 when Hendrix produced an album for the Buddy Miles Express. (Express followed the short lived band Electric Flag that he was in with Mike Bloomfield and Nick Gravenites.) The Hendrix collaboration led to Miles' drumming on Hendrix's Electric Ladyland and soon after officially joined Band Of Gypsys with bassist Billy Cox.
Band of Gypsys' self-titled album recorded live at New York's Fillmore East was their only release, but to this day it is considered to be one of the best live albums from that era in rock music. After Hendrix's death in September 1970, Miles continued to contribute to tracks by the late guitarist (posthumously constructed in the studio with Hendrix recordings). Many, many years later he and Billy Cox would regroup to record a live album (The Band of Gypsys Return), which was released two years ago.
While perhaps not as artistically groundbreaking as his Band of Gypsys work, his role as the voice for the hugely successful California Raisins claymation television ad campaign in the mid eighties had more impact (from a pop cultural standpoint) and was extremely financially rewarding for Miles, who also recorded as part of the same campaign a cover of Marvin Gaye's "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" with a studio band he put together.