Doug Ingle dead at 78: Frontman of Iron Butterfly who wrote classic In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida has passed away

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Doug Ingle’s death was announced by his son Doug Ingle Jr. on social media.

Iron Butterfly’s founding singer and organist Doug Ingle has died at 78. The news of his passing was announced by his singer’s son Doug Ingle Jr. who wrote: “It’s with a heavy heart & great sadness to announce the passing of my Father Doug Ingle. Dad passed away peacefully (Friday) evening (May 24) in the presence of family.”

Doug Ingle founded the hard rock band Iron Butterfly back in 1966 and is the last surviving member of the original lineup. Drummer Ron Bushy passed away in 2021, bassist Lee Dornan was 70 when he died in 2012 and guitarist Erk Brann was only 52 when he died in 2003. 

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The band’s debut was ‘Heavy’ in 1968 and in a very short time afterwards, the band released In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, which spent 81 weeks in the top 10 in the US and reportedly sold 30 million copies worldwide. Sky News reported that “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida’ is a slurred version of ‘in the Garden of Eden’- as allegedly misheard by the band’’s drummer when Ingle was first presenting the song to the band.”

As well as being covered by other bands such as Boney M, Slayer, The Residents, and Bong Band, it appeared in the movie Manhunter and was twice-sampled by the rapper Nas. It also featured in The Simpsons episode entitled "Bart Sells his Soul", in the episode, a version of the song is taken into a church service under the title ‘In the Garden of Eden.’

In The Simpsons episode, the character of Homer is heard saying to Marge, “Hey Marge, remember when we used to make out to this hymn?”

Doug Ingle, frontman of Iron Butterfly who wrote In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida, has diedDoug Ingle, frontman of Iron Butterfly who wrote In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida, has died
Doug Ingle, frontman of Iron Butterfly who wrote In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida, has died | Getty Images

As well as ‘Heavy’ and their best known hit  “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, Doug Ingle went on to write other classics such as ‘Easy Rider,’ ‘In The Time of Our Lives,’ and ‘Soul Experience.’ Doug Ingle was born in Omaha, Nebraska, but at an early age, relocated to San Diego, and got his first taste of music thanks to his father Lloyd, who was a church organist.

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Although Iron Butterfly were booked to play the Woodstock Festival in 1969, they unfortunately never made it there as they got stranded at New York’s LaGuardia Airport. The band toured with the likes of Janis Joplin, The Who and The Doors. 

Although Iron Butterfly broke up in 1971, they got back together only three years later. However Doug Ingle did become part of the group and revealed to the Los Angeles Times that he was in debt due to unpaid taxes and mismanagement. “I was dealing with people who were competent but not necessarily (working) in my interest. I took the luxury of playing ostrich. I didn’t involve myself at the business level at all. I just went out and performed. Itr was, ‘Isn’t life great?’ Then everything crashed down. I still maintain life is great, but now I base it on something (real) rather than wishful thinking.”

According to the website, Ultimate Classic Rock, “In 1978, Ingle rejoined Iron Butterfly and toured with the band. He would continue to do so throughout the ‘80s and ‘90s. Ingle officially retired from performing in 1999.”

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