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Iron Butterfly Is Back And They’re Serious

It’s been 20 years since Iron Butterfly, purveyor of the song and piece of rock history, “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida,” crashed to earth.

It’s been 24 years since the band’s singer-keyboardist and the writer of that 17-minute epic, Doug Ingle, has even played in a band.

Yet today, “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” continues to reap air play on classic rock radio stations. The song’s lengthy drum solo still incites air drummers young and old to beat their imaginary skins.

Plus, Rhino Records, a label known for reissuing out-of-print gems, has recently rereleased a number of Iron Butterfly’s classic albums, including “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida.”

So it seems appropriate the rock dinosaur has awakened from a long slumber and is on the verge of a comeback.

The influential band, featuring three original members - Ingle, drummer Ron Bushy and bassist Lee Dorman - and a couple of new players, stops at the Silver Mountain Amphitheater Saturday.

“We’re back and we’re serious,” said Bushy in a recent phone interview.

Currently, the band is in the midst of a summer tour and is writing and rehearsing material for a new album.

Though the band released a handful of cutting-edge, heavy metal inspiring albums, most people identify it by that 1968 sophomore release, “Vida.” Known as the industry’s first platinum album, the record stayed on the charts for 174 weeks, 76 of those in the top 10. And the band was never quite able to surpass the magic in that album.

Iron Butterfly disbanded after Ingle left in 1971. Four years later, Bushy tried to relaunch the band without Ingle. Instead of soaring back into the stratosphere, the band flew like a … too-heavy insect.

Ingle broke off from Iron Butterfly because he couldn’t handle the attention and pressures that go with being a huge rock star.

“One of the reasons I had to pull out in ‘71 was because I felt like I really had lost touch with the very thing that initially inspired me,” Ingle said in a recent phone interview. “It was so redundant after 4 and a half years of one-nighters (shows), one autograph party after another, sound checks, airport terminals … interviews, the whole bit.

“On one occasion - it was an autograph party - I found myself reaching out to what I knew consciously was a human being with a history and a story and the whole bit, and I just had the sense that it was just a breathing mannequin,” he continued. “It was such a constant diet of superficial connections that I really wanted to touch base.”

That’s exactly what Ingle did. He divorced himself from music completely and started a family, raising six kids of his own as well as three stepchildren.

Ingle wasn’t the only one who dropped out of music. Bushy became a sales representative for Makita and Bosch, selling mostly power tools.

“I had a company car, a territory,” said Bushy. “But I got sick and tired of that whole scene. I missed playing music.”

Now, Ingle and Bushy are ready to make a return to music.

“It’s great to be back, for the right reasons,” Ingle said. “I think that we’ve all matured.”

Iron Butterfly’s new album should be out within a year.

xxxx IRON BUTTERFLY Location and time: Silver Mountain Amphitheater, Kellogg, Saturday, 7 p.m. Tickets: $22.50 and $17.50

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