Soon after their founding in 1966 by Doug Ingle (keyboards/vocals), Jerry Penrod (ex-David Ankles Band; guitar), Danny Weis (ex-David Ankles Band; guitar), Ron Bushy (drums/vocals) and Darryl DeLoach (bass/vocals) Iron Butterfly moved from San Diego to Los Angeles and after being spotted at the Whisky A-Go-go they signed to Atlantic' subsidiary label Atco'.
Heavy, their 1968 debut, managed to push its way to 78 in the U.S. Shortly after its release Erik Braun replaced the positions of both Weis and Penrod who left to form Rhinoceros while DeLoach would be replaced by Lee Dorman.
Their next release, the organ driven progressive Rock/Metal album In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida(The Garden Of Life) would arrive the following year. Released in 1968 it would become one of the most known early examples of the genre's shining moments. The album proved to be their labels' biggest seller for several years. The album was one of the first ever to go platinum, helped greatly by the 17 minute title track that alone featured all that a Progressive Rock fan could want: a neo-classical organ with far-east overtones, heavy beat, a long drum solo, screeching guitars and sharp feedback. Thealbum settled out at a U.S. 4 and sold some 3 million copies. The follow up Ball (1969), made it to 3 mostly on the reputation of its predecessor, as did the live set Iron Butterfly Live that succeeded to make 20 in the U.S. in 1970.
It was at this point that the entire guitar section was replaced with Mike Pinera and Larry Reinhardt taking over the positions. The resulting 1971 release, Metamorphosis, would change the Hard Rock world forever by introducing the twin guitar attack. The album sailed to number 16 but the band couldn't keep it together and split shortly after with Pinera joining Alice Cooper many years later (1981-82).
The act reformed in 1975 as a four piece with Bushy and Braun recruiting Howard Reitzes (keyboard/vocals) and Phil Kramer (bass/vocals) but their wave had passed by and the resulting album Scorching Beauty (1975) was un-inspiring chart wise. Bill DeMartinez took over the keyboard slot for their final shot of Sun And Steel (1975) on M.C.A.' It was clear the act had made its contributions to the music world and split once more the next year.
In 1989 the act attempted yet another reformation with Dorman, Braun, Reinhardt with new men Steve Feldmann (vocals), Derek Hillard (keyboards) and Kenny Suarez (drums). The reformation went nowhere.