Iron Butterfly Bass Player, Lee Dorman, Dead At 70

Lee Dorman, the bass player for the legendary hard rock psychedelic band, Iron Butterfly, has died at the age of 70. The musician was found dead in his automobile, however no fowl play was suspected in his death since Dorman was known to have suffered from heart problems by his family.

Dorman joined up with the legendary rock act in late 1967, and was the bass player on the band’s greatest hit, “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida”, which translates into “In The Garden Of Eden”, which was punctuated with a keyboard and drum solo heavy sound and with the extended drum solo, became one of the first long drum solo rock songs ever, breaking new musical ground. The hit single version was heavily edited. Led by Ron Bushy, Iron Butterfly continues to tour as a band these days, and has a full schedule, mostly with European tour dates during 2012. Lee Dorman was also a founding member of Captain Beyond with another Iron Butterfly member, Larry “Rhino” Reinhardt. Captain Beyond was fronted by former Deep Purple lead singer, Rod Evans. Captain Beyond was an underrated act, with great talent, but never achieved great commercial success. Rod Evans provided the lead vocals for the Deep Purple hits “Hush” and “Kentucky Woman’, but was just unable to repeat success on the same level with this new band comprised of these two former Iron Butterfly musicians and other musicians. Apparently disillusioned about the band’s lack of commercial success, Rod Evans left the music business entirely and became a head of a hospital respiratory department in the Western United States.

The album IN-A-GADDA-DA-VIDA is one of the 40 best selling albums in all of rock history, selling more than 30 million copies and continues to sell well on cd to this day. Rhino Records released a previously unheard 22 song live concert album of the band recorded back in 1968 in October of this year. It was the first new release by this group in some time.

Lee Dorman was part of the lineup for Iron Butterfly during their greatest years of success, playing bass on the albums, IN-A-GADDA-DA-VIDA, BALL, LIVE and also METAMORPHOSIS, before departing to form Captain Beyond. BALL managed another decent hit, “Soul Experience”. Strangely, while the single of “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” did no better than just #30 on the American charts, the album was one of the biggest selling albums ever, with most buyers preferring the long 17 minute drum solo heavy track over the edited single. “Soul Experience” only peaked at #75 on the charts, yet continues to get airplay on AM and FM radio stations because of continued audience support as the second most commercially successful Iron Butterfly single.

Lee Dorman drifted back in and out of the band over the years, finally leaving the band this year, likely due to health issues.

Doug Ingle provided both the vocals as well as the distinctive heavy keyboard signature to all of the early Iron Butterfly hits and greatest commercial success albums, but for a period after he left in the late 70’s and for a number of years beyond, the very talented Mike Pinera of the Blues Image took over as the re-incarnated band’s lead singer and frontman. Blues Image had unfortunately already broken up as an act by the time that their 1970 single, “Ride Captain Ride” became a top ten AM radio hit, where there was no suitable follow-up to that hit, so “Gas Lamps and Clay” from an older album was unsuccessfully promoted as the best follow-up that record executives could find from the largely noncommercial, but musically solid small catalog of recordings this act had previously recorded. Jimi Hendrix had heavily praised Blues Image as one of his favorite new acts in 1970, and was a strong backer of this band.

Strangely, Doug Ingle’s father was a church organist, yet his son developed an interesting variation of this influence in playing organ music quite differently for this rock act.

It seemed strange how the careers of a number of great musicians from several acts became associated with Iron Butterfly, and Lee Dorman was a very important part of this great act’s history. This great musician will be greatly missed by all of the millions of fans who love Iron Butterfly’s great musical imprint on rock music.

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