Erik Braunn, the lead guitarist on IRON BUTTERFLY's classic heavy metal anthem of 1968 "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida", died of cardiac arrest Friday in Los Angeles, according to the Los Angeles Times. He was 52.
Braunn, considered a violin prodigy, began his musical career at age 4. He was born in Pekin, Ill., but raised in Los Angeles. He was 16 when he joined IRON BUTTERFLY and spent 1967-69 on tour with the band. The teenager said he had not been prepared for the frenetic pace of working 365 days a year in such venues as the Hollywood Bowl.
Braunn and colleagues Doug Ingle, Ron Bushy and Lee Dorman, left their mark on musical history with the 17-minute "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" (later covered by SLAYER on the "Less Than Zero" soundtrack). The album went platinum and stayed on the national sales chart 2½ years, and a three-minute version also became a Top 40 radio hit.
Braunn occasionally reunited with his BUTTERFLY partners for performances, and worked as a songwriter, musician and producer until his death. During one such reunion in 1988, he spoke to The Times about his whirlwind superstardom experience 20 years earlier, saying: "My first vacation I bought a car — a Jaguar — and parked it outside the hospital where I spent two weeks for ulcers and gastroenteritis."
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