Happy Anniversary: Iron Butterfly “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida”
46 years ago today, guitarist Erik Brann, drummer Ron Bushy, bassist Lee Dorman, and singer/organist Doug Ingle – known collectively as Iron Butterfly – entered Ultrasonic Studios in Long Island, New York, and recorded the greatest gift to DJs with urinary tract infections in the history of rock ‘n’ roll radio: “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.”
Written by Ingle, the origins of the song’s title are a little sketchy, but the general consensus seems to be that Ingle was under the influence of something or other when he originally told Bushy the song’s title, and Bushy wrote down Ingle’s slurred words to the best of his ability. Whether it was originally intended to be called “In the Garden of Eden” or not, it hardly matters, because thanks to The Simpsons, everyone is forever going to presume that was the case, anyway.
Although the album version of the song clocks in at 17 minutes and five seconds, Ingle admitted that he never specifically intended for “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” to be quite so epic in length, only that he knew that there would be slots within its structure for solos…but, boy, did they fill those slots! The single version, meanwhile, chops virtually all of the solo action and brings the track down to under three minutes in length – 2:52, to be precise – yet it still ends up working surprisingly well.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” is that it was a first take. In fact, it was only supposed to be a soundcheck for engineer Don Casale while Iron Butterfly waited for the arrival of producer Jim Hilton. In the end, though, all Hilton ended up doing was remixing the recording: the performance itself is that very first run-through. Although it’s been covered by artists as diverse as Boney M and Slayer, the original is still the definitive version by a country mile, which is why we’re offering it up for your listening enjoyment.