Helpless Dancer

The Endless Note

Blast From The Past – Them Changes

George Allen Miles, Jr. (September 5, 1947 – February 26, 2008), known as Buddy Miles, was an American rock and funk drummer, most known as a member of Jimi Hendrix’s Band of Gypsys from 1969 through to January 1970.

In 1969 an extremely busy Hendrix would somehow find time to produce the first two albums released by Buddy Miles’ own band, Buddy Miles Express – Expressway To Your Skull and Electric Church. There was obvious public curiosity as to whether the name of the band “Buddy Miles Express” was influenced by Hendrix’s act, “The Jimi Hendrix Experience”.

Soon after the release of the groundbreaking Electric Ladyland album, Noel Redding (original Experience bass player) and Mitch Mitchell (the Experience drummer) had both parted company with Hendrix, not least because of constant wrangling between Hendrix’s manager (Michael Jeffery) and his producer (Alan Douglas), both vying for control of his career. Everyone wanted a piece of Hendrix’s success.

As Buddy Miles explained: “Jimi was not happy. He felt powerless. He couldn’t do what he wanted to do. Hendrix’s solution to the problem was to found a short-lived band called Band of Gypsys, and Miles was brought in to join him. One of the notable features for his audience at the time was the fact that all of the players were black. This was a first for Hendrix as an international recording star – although he had, of course, played with the Isley Brothers in his early days – and this choice reflected a move toward reconnecting with his soul roots. It also had the effect of re-associating rock with its African American roots. Originally it was a solo lp , but in the last ten years or so additional cuts from the concerts were released on a three piece cassette box. The band was based in New York City where Hendrix was spending the majority of his time. Hendrix, who was tangled in legal litigation concerning contracts he had signed prior to his becoming internationally recognized, was required to release a record to the Capitol Records label as part of the agreement in court. This fact led to the live recording of his collaboration with Buddy Miles and Billy Cox.

Band Of Gypsies

However during a follow up performance a month later, Hendrix had a minor, drug-related meltdown on stage which has also been speculated to have been an act of sabotage on the part of a very frustrated manager Michael Jeffery, who was not a fan of the Band of Gypsys all-black line-up and strong R&B roots. Miles had this to say about the incident years later:

“Jeffery slipped [Jimi] two half-tabs of acid on stage as he went on … [Jimi] just freaked out. I told Jeffery he was an out-and-out complete idiot and a fucking asshole to boot. One of the biggest reasons why Jimi is dead is because of that guy.” Miles and Jeffery already had a strained relationship, as Jeffery was always uncomfortable with Hendrix and Miles’ close friendship. After this performance at Madison Square Garden in January 1970, Jeffery fired Buddy Miles and the Band of Gypsys was no more.

Miles continued to work with Hendrix during early and mid 1970 after the Jimi Hendrix Experience had failed to re-form to record. Miles would share recording studio drumming duties on songs “Room Full of Mirrors”, “Izabella”, “Ezy Ryder” and the first version of “Stepping Stone” (for which Mitchell played a final drum track). These songs have been released in several posthumous Hendrix albums.Ironically, the album Band of Gypsys — released in May 1970 — made the Top 10 on both sides of the Atlantic, and stayed in the US charts for over a year. Hendrix died in September 18, 1970, prompting the album to sell even better. There are now videos of Buddy and Randy Hansen covering several of Jimi’s songs on a major website.

Buddy Miles went on to produce other records under his own name. A song he had written and recorded with the Band of Gypsys, “Them Changes” was again recorded by Miles with his own band on a release soon after Hendrix’s passing on Mercury Records.

“Them Changes” – Buddy Miles

Miles’ former Band Of Gypsys sideman, Billy Cox, performed bass guitar on this track. By this time Miles had dropped the “Buddy Miles Express” act name and shortened it to just his own name. That band included bassist David Hull and guitarist Charlie Karp. The same band would release a live album entitled Live which again included his by now signature song, “Them Changes”.

Here however is a real nugget from the vaults Jimi Hendrix with Buddy Miles and the great “Them Changes”

To buy the music of Buddy Miles click HERE

To buy the music of Jimi Hendrix click HERE

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April 24, 2010 - Posted by | Blast from The Past, Old Music, R&B, Soul, Video | , ,

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