Iron Butterfly will make an ‘authentic’ landing at the Egyptian Theatre |

Iron Butterfly will make an ‘authentic’ landing at the Egyptian Theatre

Songs played with the same intent as the originals

Although Iron Butterfly has survived various lineup changes, the band performs the classic songs faithful to the originals, with the same energy and intent, according to bassist Dave Meros.
Courtesy of Iron Butterfly

Although the Iron Butterfly that will perform at the Egyptian Theatre this weekend doesn’t consist of any original members, it was sanctioned by classic line-up drummer Ron Bushy, who died in August.

“It’s not like we’re a band that formed and decided to play Iron Butterfly songs,” said bassist Dave Meros. “Ron wanted to get the band back together and he was originally going to play again, but his health wouldn’t allow it.”

So Meros, along with guitarist Eric Barnett, keyboardist Martin Gerschwitz and new drummer Bernie Pershey, will carry on and play the songs made famous by Bushy, organist Doug Ingle, guitarist Erik Brann and bassist Lee Dorman.

“The whole purpose of this version of the band is to keep the music alive, because Ron wanted the band to get back out there and preserve his legacy,” Meros said. “There are no original members, but most of the guys in the band now joined during the band’s history, and as the original guys had retired or passed away one by one, the new players have continued to play.”

Meros, who has supported Bobby Kimball of Toto, Eric Burdon and the Animals and Mark Lindsay of Paul Revere and the Raiders, first played with Iron Butterfly in 2006, when he sat in for Dorman.

“Lee had a serious heart condition, and had to miss a gig,” Meros said. “That gig was also the first time Martin was in the band. The rest of the guys asked if he knew a bassist, and Martin called me.”

After a couple of rehearsals, Meros found himself in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, for the gig.

“I didn’t have a lot of time to learn the material, but I learned enough to get through the show,” he said. “I had a great time, but I hadn’t dived into the little nuances that I would eventually do that would make me appreciate Lee so much.”

Meros didn’t hear from the band after that until Dorman passed away in 2012.

“The band had taken a hiatus, and came back out when Ron put it back together,” he said. “That’s when I got the call.”

To better prepare for the gigs, Meros dug in and listened closely to Dorman’s basslines.

“He had a lot going on,” Meros said about Dorman, who eventually became a good friend. “He was really good, and totally underrated.”

In order to play the bass in such iconic Iron Butterfly songs such as “In-a-Gadda-da-Vida,” “Flowers and Beads” and “Are You Happy,” Meros purchased a replica of the Mosrite bass Dorman played.

Meros enjoys playing “Are You Happy” and “Flowers and Beads.”

“‘Are You Happy’ is so uptempo and it has that solo that just rocks out, and on the opposite extreme, ‘Flowers and Beads’ is attractive from the bass standpoint,” he said. “It has that Motown style, and the song is so hippie. It’s got that 1968 vibe, and it makes me really happy to hear it.”

Emulating what the band did in its heyday is the secret of playing Iron Butterfly songs correctly, according to Meros.

“I learned the songs note-for-note, and tried to emulate what Lee was doing,” Meros said. “With the band in general, the key to me is to play the songs faithful to the originals, with the same energy and intent. So, we play with that same fire. We want to give it to the audience the way the original guys intended these songs to be played.”

Playing authentically means not going “off score,” the bassist said.

“It’s easy to stray from the original songs, parts, arrangements, and there is a lot of temptation to do that,” he said. “But since we want things to sound like the original thing, we try not to do any fancy stuff. I mean, the original parts are fancy enough to begin with, and they are satisfying to play as is.”

The Park City concerts are the first string of shows Iron Butterfly will be able to play since COVID-19 concerns shut the country down in 2020, Meros said.

“For obvious reasons, 2020 was a wash, and 2021 was also a wash for lots of bands like us, who play smaller theaters,” he said. “So when the Park City gigs came around, we really wanted to do them.”

These performances will also be the first time the band will play live with its new drummer, Pershey, who cut his teeth in fusion bands in the 1970s.

He was Olivia Newton-John’s drummer during her heyday in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and played with Meros and Gerschwitz in Eric Burdon and the Animals.

“It’s kind of funny, because he’s been in the band for two years, and he hasn’t played a gig yet,” Meros said. “But he’s been one of these guys who has been really good since he was a kid.”

Meros is looking forward to hearing Pershey play the drum solo in “In-a-Gadda-da-Vida,” which was made famous by the late Bushy.

“Recently, a lot of these music icons, like Ron, are leaving us,” Meros said. “When I joined the band, Ron was recovering from cancer, and he was really the patron saint of the band. While Iron Butterfly has had a number of members over the years, he was one of the main ones. So anytime someone plays a song that he was on or listens to a record he recorded, he will always be there.”

Iron Butterfly

When: 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Oct. 22-23; 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 24

Where: Egyptian Theatre, 328 Main St.

Phone: 855-745-SHOW


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