The origins of the band Iron Butterfly began in the city of San Diego, California in 1966. After multiple personnel changes during the band’s first couple of years, Iron Butterfly released their debut album in 1968 entitled Heavy. However, it was the band’s second album, labeled In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida, that made the band a household name. With their 17-minute title track that took up the entire side of a vinyl record, Iron Butterfly would achieve legendary status. While the song “In-A-Gadda- Da -Vida” was a watershed moment in rock and roll history because of its length, it also bore the brunt of many jokes. Legendary radio personality Howard Stern would often joke that whenever he had to use the bathroom on the air, he would put on Iron Butterfly’s “In-A-Gadda-Da -Vida,” so he would have plenty of time to go.
As all Iron Butterfly fans already know, the band released an incredible body of work that was often overshadowed by their legendary recording of In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida. Iron Butterfly released six studio albums between the years 1968 and 1975. The band has toured and performed longer than almost any other band in classic rock history. Iron Butterfly has continued to perform since 1966. They broke up three times but always reformed quickly with a combination of new and old members.
They might hold the record for the most personal changes in a band in rock and roll history. However, the classic lineup of the late 1960s was always considered to be Erik Braunn on guitar, Lee Dorman on bass, Doug Ingle on organ, and Ron Bushy on drums.
Most Iron Butterfly fans are fanatics, so picking a list of the top 10 Iron Butterfly songs will inevitably lead to complaints about missed songs. However, we can only pick 10 because we live by our own rules, and most of this list serves as an introduction for fans who may have never heard of the band before. So here are our favorite Iron Butterfly songs.
# 10 Soul Experience
Starting out our Top 10 Iron Butterfly songs list is the great track “Soul Experience.” The song “Soul Experience” was released on the band’s third album, Ball. The album was released in 1969. “Soul Experience.” was released as a single and reached the upper end of the Billboard Top 100 singles charts.
# 9 – My Mirage
Iron Butterfly’s “My Mirage” was issued on the legendary In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida album in 1968. “My Mirage” appeared as the third track on side one of the LP. It was one of only six songs on the LP. “My Mirage” was never released as a single.
# 8 – Iron Butterfly Theme
Well, not many bands have their own theme. So, how could we leave this one out? It’s a killer track that has long been one of our favorites. The “Iron Butterfly Theme” recording closed side two of the band’s debut album, Heavy.
# 7 – Scorching Beauty
Although the band Iron Butterfly released an album called Scorching Beauty, the song “Scorching Beauty” was released on the album Sun and Steel album. The Sun and Steel album was released in October 1975. The song “Scorching Beauty” was the album’s closing track.
# 6 – Fields of Sun
Iron Butterfly’s debut album was a powerhouse rock and roll record. The album Heavy has long been our favorite Iron Butterfly record. Coming in at No. 6. on our Top 10 Iron Butterfly songs list is the album’s third track on side two, entitled “Fields of Sun.” Not to be confused with Sting’s “Fields of Gold,” but we wonder if Sting got the idea for his song from this track.
# 5 – Real Fright
The Iron Butterfly song “Real Fright” is the second track off the album Ball to land on our top 10 Iron Butterfly songs list. The song “Real Fright” also appeared as a live version of the Iron Butterfly album Live at the Galaxy 1967.
# 4 – Are You Happy?
The excellent track “Are You Happy” closed out side one of the legendary In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida albums. The album was a massive seller for Atlantic Records. It was released on the ATCO Label, a division of Atlantic Records. For the younger generation who may not be familiar with Atlantic Records, the label was also the home of Led Zeppelin, The Rolling Stones, Alice Cooper, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Velvet Underground, and many more bands of the classic rock era.
# 3 – Butterfly Bleu
The song “Butterfly Bleu” was the closing track on the band’s fourth album, Metamorphosis. There was a trend in the late 1960s and early 1970s for bands to place what they felt was the album’s best song as the last track. It was a trend that made very little sense since the last track on a vinyl record tended to have the worst sound quality because the grooves were spun the tightest close to the record’s center.
# 2 – Unconscious Power
For many, the blazing track “Unconscious Power,” from the band’s debut album, is one of the best Iron Butterfly songs ever released. It was also the second song that took part in a killer album opening dual punch of the album’s opening track “Possession” and “Unconscious Power.” Both songs were released on the same single, although “Unconscious Power” was listed appropriately as the A-side.
# 1 – In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida
How could this not be number one on this top 10 Iron Butterfly songs list? It’s one of the most legendary songs and album sides ever. From the In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida album. This is the song that musicians always refer to when someone writes a pretty long song, saying, “What are you trying to write “In-A-Gadda- Da- Vida?” All joking aside, “In-A-Gadda- Da- Vida” is a truly great classic rock song. The album was released in 1968. The single edit of the song became Iron Butterfly’s only top 40 hit on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100. It’s incredible that they could take a song that lasted the entire length of an album side at over seventeen minutes and cut it down to just a little over two minutes.
Updated December 16, 2023
Top 10 Iron Butterfly Songs article published on Classic RockHistory.com©
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