Iron Butterfly Fans Come To Terms With Apparent Discovery Of Missing Rocker's Remains

06/01/1999 7:00 PM, Yahoo! Music
Craig Rosen


(6/1/99, 4 p.m. PDT) - Fans of Iron Butterfly are coming to terms with the apparent death of Philip Kramer, after a human skull and bones, which likely belonged to the band's onetime bass player, were discovered on Saturday (May 29). The remains were found along with Kramer's driver's license and smashed van. The Los Angeles County Coroner is expected to identify the remains today.

Although Kramer did not join Iron Butterfly until 1975, seven years after the group made a name for itself with the rock classic "In-Gadda-Da-Vida," he was well-liked by the band's fans.

Rick Gagnon, an associate of the band, posted the news about the discovery of what appears to be Kramer's remains on the band's official website, www.ironbutterfly.com, on Monday (May 31) in a message titled "Closure."

"The remains of what is assumed to be that of Phil Kramer were found at the bottom of a canyon last Saturday near Malibu, Calif.," Gagnon wrote. "His van apparently plummeted off a 300-foot cliff, sending Phil to his death. Due to the circumstances, one can only speculate suicide. On behalf of the entire Iron Butterfly organization and fan base, I send sympathy to his family and friends. My personal wishes go to [Iron Butterfly drummer] Ron Bushy, who was probably closer to Phil than any man outside the family. I'm sorry Ron--Phil was one hell of a nice guy."

Kramer has been missing since Feb. 12, 1995, when he failed to return home after a trip to Los Angeles International Airport to pick up a business associate. During the drive, Kramer, then 42, called his wife and Bushy and told them both that he loved them, according to the Los Angeles Times. A third call was made to a 911 operator as Kramer drove on the Ventura Freeway somewhere in the San Fernando Valley. "This is Philip Taylor Kramer and I'm going to kill myself," the Times reports.

Bushy, however, told the Los Angeles Daily News that he does not believe Kramer killed himself. "I don't think it was a suicide," he said. "That's just not like Taylor. I've never known him to run away from something. He just tackles it head-on. He had a zest for life.

"My heart fell when I found out [Saturday] night," Bushy said. "It freaked me out. But it's some sort of closure."

Two hikers found the remains and Kramer's 1993 green Ford Aerostar van 450 feet below a road near Malibu.

After leaving Iron Butterfly, Kramer started the now-defunct company Total Multimedia, which specializes in video compression. In a 1995 interview, Kramer's father said that his son had made technological breakthroughs in his studies to send images via computer faster than the speed of light. At the time of his death, the musician was heavily in debt while his company was emerging from bankruptcy, the Times reported.

Whatever the circumstances behind his death, fans of Iron Butterfly are mourning Kramer. A fan named Pam posted the following message earlier today: "To the family of Taylor, I am so sorry to hear the sad news. I was always hoping in my heart that one day he would appear with his big warm smile and have an explanation of all this. His [indomitable] spirit will live in the hearts of all [that] knew him. His smile will never be forgotten! Bushy--I don't know what to say! So many memories! I sure will miss him!"

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