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Thursday, February 28, 2008

Buddy Miles - Another Big Loss

I have been a Buddy Miles fan dating back to the Electric Flag days. He died too soon...RIP Buddy. Here is the obit from his hometown paper in Omaha NE.

Buddy Miles, an Omaha drummer and singer who played with legendary guitarist Jimi Hendrix, died Tuesday night at his home in Austin, Texas.

The 60-year-old musician died of congestive heart failure, said his publicist, Duane Lee, of Dallas.

Born George Miles Jr. in Omaha in 1947, Miles had been fascinated with drums since age 6. "His father found him outside in the back yard practicing on some trash can lids," said Miles' partner, Sherrilae Chambers of Dallas, in a 2004 interview.

He joined his father George Miles' jazz combo, the Bebops, at age 12. Miles dropped out of Omaha North High in 1965, a few days before he was to graduate, to pursue a career as a professional musician. He received an honorary diploma from the school in 1998.

In 1967, he co-founded the Chicago band Electric Flag with Mike Bloomfield, who had just left the Paul Butterfield Blues Band. The group broke up after its second album, and Miles formed the Buddy Miles Express.

He met Hendrix in the early 1960s but didn't begin collaborating with him until 1969, when Hendrix produced an album by the Buddy Miles Express.

Miles was drummer on Hendrix's landmark "Electric Ladyland" album before officially joining Hendrix's Band of Gypsys with bassist Billy Cox a few months later. Miles wrote the Hendrix classic "Them Changes."

He worked with a variety of acts through the years, including the Ink Spots, Ruby & the Romantics, Wilson Pickett, the Delfonics, Stevie Wonder, Bootsy Collins, David Bowie and Santana.

"You name it, he sat in with them," said longtime friend Victoria Rose, who met Miles at a party in Hollywood when she was 17. She and her husband saw him perform last September at a club in Seattle.

During the early '70s, Miles was imprisoned twice on drug convictions.

In 1986, he became known as the voice of the California Raisins in a commercial campaign that yielded his hit rendition of "I Heard It Through the Grapevine" and a platinum "California Raisins" album.

Omaha musician Craig Balderston remembers jamming with Miles occasionally in the Mighty Jailbreakers, a local band, during the mid-'90s.

"He would sit in and sing with us. He was a fantastic drummer and a fantastic singer," Balderston said.

In 2004, Miles performed at the Omaha Riverfront Jazz & Blues Festival and was inducted into the Nebraska Music Hall of Fame that year. In 2005, he was inducted into the Omaha Black Music Hall of Fame.

"He was a great, influential musician and a wonderful person and friend," Rose said. "He was just a good soul. I think he's up in heaven with Jimi now. I think they're rocking."

His mother, Frances Miles, died in 1999. His sister, Gloria Miles, died in 2002. Survivors include his Chambers, a niece, nephew and stepchildren. A private memorial service will be held. ---

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