Philip Taylor Kramer: Age 42 | Cause Of Death: SUICIDE

Iron Butterfly

Born: 1952, Died: February 12, 1995

Kramer, born in 1952,  joined the second coming of Iron Butterfly in 1974. He played on its album Sun and Steel.  The bassist disappeared without a trace in 1995.  Four years later hikers in LA found his remains in a car at the bottom of a 200 foot ravine.  Kramer was also  working on guidance systems for the MX missile for the US government.  Prior to his discovery, many theories abounded regarding his sudden and unexplained disappearance.

Fuller Up The Dead Musicians Directory

Philip Taylor Kramer

Philip Taylor Kramer
Age: 42
Died: February 12, 1995
Cause Of Death: SUICIDE

News Items

Philip "Taylor" Kramer, Bassist

The mysterious disappearance of one-time Iron Butterfly bassist Philip “Taylor” Kramer, 42, has come to a tragic conclusion with the May 29, 1999, discovery by hikers of his 1993 Ford Aerostar van at the bottom of a Malibu, Calif., ravine. Skeletal remains found inside and near the vehicle were confirmed through dental records to be those of Kramer.

Kramer’s Feb. 12, 1995, disappearance has been the subject of numerous TV shows due both to his connection with Iron Butterfly and his involvement with government projects, lending X-Files–like conspiracy overtones to his vanishing. Unfortunately, most reports have given the mistaken impression that he was with Iron Butterfly during the band’s “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” days when in fact he was only with the band during a mid-70s re-formation. Most glaring (and high profile) of these shows is a segment on VH-1’s Where Are They Now? which, while purporting to be on the band as a whole, devoted more than three and a half minutes out of the five-minute segment to the Kramer mystery, never once mentioning that Lee Dorman was the main Butterfly bassist during their classic years. This was done in spite of Dorman being both interviewed and shown performing on stage during the VH-1 show.

Kramer played in a number of bands in Ohio (including Max, with future Dead Boy Stiv Bators) before moving to L.A. in the early ’70s. After working a number of odd jobs and even living on the streets, he was asked to join an Iron Butterfly reunion by original drummer and friend Ron Bushy, whom he’d been working with as a prop builder at Warner Brothers Studios. Along with guitarist Erik Braunn and keyboardist Howard Reitzes, they recorded Scorching Beauty for MCA in 1974, followed by Sun And Steel (with Bill DeMartines replacing Reitzes). Neither album was particularly good, and while the band toured based on the strength of the name (with Kramer singing “IAGDV”), the band folded in 1977. Kramer and Bushy formed a post-Butterfly group called Gold and recorded an unreleased album during ’78-’79. After that stint Kramer quit the music business altogether.

Kramer immersed himself in schooling, studying engineering and getting a job building radar equipment. He graduated from night school with straight A’s and got a job at Northrup, working on the design of the MX missile. At the time of his disappearance, he had reportedly discovered a mathematical formula that would allow matter to travel faster than the speed of light. His involvement in projects of this nature have led to theories that he was abducted or murdered.

What is known is that on Feb. 12, 1995, having spent an hour waiting at Los Angeles International Airport for a business contact who never arrived, he called both his wife and Ron Bushy from his cell phone in his car, leaving Bushy a cryptic message about seeing him “…on the other side.” According to newspaper reports, Kramer also called 911 just before noon that day and said he was going to commit suicide. Despite this, family members believe he could have been the victim of foul play.

Officials said that determining whether Kramer’s death was a suicide, murder or accident could take months. — Geof O’Keefe

Skeletal Remains May Belong To Missing Rock Musician

May 31, 1999

Web posted at: 11:47 AM

MALIBU, California (AP) — Human remains found inside the wreckage of a minivan that plunged down a 200-foot ravine may be those of a rock musician missing since 1995, police said.

The 1993 Ford Aerostar matches the description of a van driven by onetime Iron Butterfly bass player Philip “Taylor” Kramer, who was believed to be driving his van when he disappeared February 12, 1995.

The remains were being examined by coroner’s investigators Sunday, authorities said. No identity has been released.

A hiker in the ravine discovered the skeleton late Saturday but investigators were not able to recover the vehicle until daylight, said Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Bruce Thomas.

The ravine is located below a curving, two-lane road that is a popular dumping ground for stolen cars, Thomas said.

It is not yet clear whether the driver died when the car went off the side of the road or whether foul play was involved.

Kramer, who was 42 when he disappeared, was last seen leaving his Thousand Oaks-area home to pick up a friend at Los Angeles International Airport.

He joined a re-formed Iron Butterfly in 1975 as a singer and bass player. The band, best known for its 17-minute smash hit “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” in 1969, had several incarnations with various band members over the years.

Kramer went on to work in aerospace and later became involved in interactive media. At the time of his disappearance, he was chief technology officer at Total Multimedia in suburban Newbury Park.

After he disappeared, his wife, Jennifer, said her husband “would never, for any reason or under any circumstances, allow himself to completely abandon the family he loves more than life itself.”

Human Remains Provide Clues to Missing Rocker

by Joal Ryan

June 1, 1999, 9:20 a.m. PT

A grim discovery of a human skull and bones may solve the mystery of a onetime bassist of progressive rock band Iron Butterfly–a man missing for more than four years.

Authorities in California say they are all but certain that the remains belong to Philip Kramer, who played in Butterfly during the group’s mid-1970s incarnation.

Hikers found the remains Saturday near a totaled 1993 Ford van at the bottom of a canyon, more than 400 feet below the nearby road, in Southern California’s picturesque Malibu. Evidence suggests the crash was the result of a suicide mission, the Los Angeles Times says.

The van is to be removed from the canyon today. Coroner’s officials also plan to use dental records to confirm that the skull and bones indeed belong to Kramer. One of the hikers who discovered the crash site told the Times that a wallet found at the scene contained Kramer’s driver’s license.

Kramer has been missing since February 12, 1995. During a drive home from Los Angeles International Airport on that day, he made a cell phone calls to his wife, a friend from Iron Butterfly, and, finally, to 911, wherein he told the operator he planned to kill himself. Then, he seemingly vanished.

There has been no comment yet from Kramer’s family on the weekend developments. But some in the camp have long argued that Kramer’s disappearance may have been linked to his work. Post-Butterfly, Kramer ran a multimedia company. His family has said the ex-rocker had made a key scientific breakthrough shortly before he disappeared.

Kramer, born in 1952, joined the second coming of Iron Butterfly in 1974. He played on its album Sun and Steel. Butterfly is best known for its 17-minute-long, album-rock classic, “In-a-Gadda-Da-Vida.”

Internet Promise Goes Unfullfilled

By Tamara Henry
USA Today 

March 31,1999 

WASHINGTON – The initiative was launched with great fanfare: The Council of the Great City Schools announced an alliance with MCI and Total Multimedia Inc. to hardwire the 50 largest urban school districts to the Internet.  

“For inner-city America and for our kids, they are too often the last to be served by any new emerging technology or service,” council head Michael Casserly told USA TODAY.  

That was in August 1994. The “benchmark initiative” – as the council described it – was to start the process that creates the National Urban Learning Network. But the man pushing the initiative, Taylor Kramer of the ’70s rock group Iron Butterfly, literally disappeared soon afterward. And now, nothing has happened to make the goal come to pass.  

The story is a lesson in how even the best of intentions in technology can fall by the wayside without proper vigilance. “I think the landscape in school technology is littered with an incredible array of programs that had great intentions but lack the juice or implementation,” Casserly says.  
“You would kind of expect with a field that is less than 20 years old and as big as this one is, you’re going to have a lot of things that really make it and lots of things that fail,” he says.  

Kramer had approached Casserly with the promise to provide technology and high-tech assistance through his California video technology firm Total Multimedia. He had founded TMM along with Randy Jackson, the youngest Jackson in the Jackson 5. TMM had established a track record in its use of high-tech equipment in schools. Headquartered in Thousand Oaks, Calif., TMM had teamed up with the nearby Hueneme Elementary School District in 1985 to outfit all of its 11 schools.  

With the alliance, the MCI foundation was to contribute $100,000, while the corporation made available the resources it has as an international telecommunications carrier. The council was to start the network with one high school in the cities of Nashville, St. Louis, Portland, Ore., Detroit, San Diego, Baltimore and Boston.  

Months after the announcement, the council sponsored a design meeting in Portland, Ore., at Marshall High School, to demonstrate the initiative to prospective donors representing nearly 40 corporations.  Marshall principal Colin Karr-Morse remembers the promises but says, “We kind of dropped out of that because nothing was happening. We get into an awful lot of meetings where people have really neat ideas and don’t follow through. We just decided we’re going to do our own thing.”  

Casserly’s plan was to eventually connect all 50 urban school districts with their 5.5 million children – typically America’s neediest youth – to the country’s evolving information highways to improve the quality of instruction.  

Besides the disappearance of Kramer, Casserly says the urban network also failed to receive a $291,374 grant from the Department of Commerce. “We had thought that the project really jived with their priorities, but they ended up not funding it.” Other corporations were to kick in $1.2 million. “We were disappointed that it was so slow, and the talk preceded the money, and the money never came,” says Karr-Morse, noting the school was able to finance a technology project with local corporate help and a hefty bond issue.  

“Urban schools still are about half as likely to be wired to the Internet as the national average,”  Casserly says. For the 50 districts represented by the council, he says the range is about 10% to 80% of their schools, with some schools having only the principal’s office wired or the library but not every classroom.  

By Tamara Henry,

Did Leaving Doom Iron Butterfly Bassist?

  ( The Washington Times )



He went from rock star to rocket scientist, with a security clearance for work on the MX nuclear missile. Then he vanished without a trace.

Some think former Iron Butterfly bassist Philip Taylor Kramer committed suicide or faked his own death. Others, including a U.S. congressman, believe the 6-foot-5 rocker was kidnapped or murdered, possibly by a hostile foreign government, and are pressing the FBI to launch a full investigation.

“The MX was having troubles, and he was the guy who was helping to fix it,” says Paul Marcone, an aide to Rep. James A. Trafi cant Jr., Ohio Democrat, in whose district the Kramer family lives. “He could help Iraq or China develop a missile that could hit L.A. It sounds like a spy novel, but what if he was abducted?

“If you listen to the 911 call, a lot of things don’t add up.” Indeed, 2 1/2 years after he disappeared at age 42, the case of Philip Kramer remains one of the most bizarre missing-persons mysteries in recent times.

The youngest of three children, Philip inherited the scientific prowess of his father, Ray Kramer, a professor of electrical engineering at Youngstown State in Ohio. At age 12, the boy won a science fair by building a laser powerful enough to pop a balloon. He later taught himself guitar and piano and in 1971, when he was 19, he moved with his older sister, Kathy, to Los Angeles. There they hoped to develop a brother-sister act.

The duet failed to fly, but in 1973 Philip met Ron Bushy, original drummer of legendary heavy metal band Iron Butterfly, known for its droning 1968 hit “In-a-Gadda-Da Vida.” The pair decided to revive the band, which had broken up in 1971.

On road trips, Mr. Kramer passed the time by working out mathematical equations and stayed in shape by doing 1,000 push-ups a day. The group cut two albums, but with fan support on the wane, decided to shut down in 1975.

Kramer,along with Michael Jackson’s brother Randy, founded Total Multimedia. The firm developed video compression technology, used to store images on CD- ROM discs.

About the same time, Mr. Kramer became a devotee of “The Celestine Prophecy,” which preaches about a mystical search for the nine insights of life.

Copyright © 1997 News World Communications, Inc.
K.L. Billingsley, Did leaving rock for rockets doom Butterfly star?.,
The Washington Times, 09-14-1997, pp 04.