on this day


Jazz drummer Butch Miles died on Thursday, February 2, 2023 in Austin, Texas. The cause of death was not disclosed. He is survived by his wife Linda Benjamin-Miles.
Count Basie Orchestra Director Scotty Barnhart shared the devastating news on Facebook: β€œThe Count Basie Orchestra family is sad to announce the passing today of Butch Miles (1944-2023). He was loved and admired all over the world and he will truly be missed. Please keep his dear wife Linda Benjamin-Miles in your thoughts as she deals with this sudden loss of her husband.
RIP, brother Butch. 
Miles was a member of the West Virginia Music Hall of Fame 2011 class of inductees, and was retired from the School of Music at Texas State University-San Marcos. His accomplishments are practically endless. He played with such luminaries as Count Basie, Frank Sinatra, Sammy Davis Jr., Dave Brubeck, Mel Torme, Lena Horne, Joe Williams, Ella Fitzgerald, Woody Herman, Clark Terry, Gerry Mulligan, Billy Eckstein, Eddie “Lockjaw” Davis, Harry “Sweets” Edison, Benny Goodman, Tony Bennett, Dick Hyman and others, Miles has recorded over 100 albums and has been on three Grammy winning albums along with being nominated numerous times for the European equivalent of the Grammy.
Raised in Hinton, West Virginia, Miles was born in Ironton, Ohio as Charles J. Thorton, Jr. on July 4, 1944 during a family reunion weekend while his mother was visiting relatives in Russell, Kentucky. Raised by his single mother, Butch decided to play snare drum when he was asked to join the school band at age 9. His first drum hero was Gene Krupa, but he listened to every drummer he possibly could. Other favorite drummers were Papa Jo Jones, Chick Webb, Roy Haynes, Joe Morello, Louie Bellson and Buddy Rich. Butch cites the great Count Basie drummer, Sonny Payne, as a major influence.
He became interested in drumset at age 14 and started drum lessons with Frank Thompson at the Guthrie and Dean Music Shop in Charleston, West Virginia at age 15. He soon joined the union and began playing with dance bands.
He majored in music at West Virginia State University (1962–1966), and after receiving his degree, he went on tour with the Iris Bell Trio. He later moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan and became the house drummer in a jazz club.
In 1971, he became Mel Torme’s drummer for 3 1/2 years and it was Torme and Buddy Rich who recommended Miles to Count Basie when a drummer was needed. In January of 1975 Butch joined the Count Basie Orchestra as a sub for Ray Parello, who had been in an auto accident, but soon became his replacement. He was with the Count Basie Orchestra from 1975 to 1979, returning for ten years from 1997 to 2007.
In 1979 Butch left Basie to pursue other opportunities, and played with artists such as Dave Brubeck, Tony Bennett, Benny Goodman, Al Cohn, Zoot Sims, Gerry Mulligan, Lena Horne, Joe Bushkin, Bob Wilber, and many others.”
From Count Basie’s autobiography (published in 1985): β€œButch came to us from Mel Torme’s outfit. He was a real crowd pleaser, like Buddy Rich and Sonny Payne, and he picked up on things very nicely, and he was also interested in sticking around for a while, which he did, for about four years.”
Butch performed at the Newport Jazz Festival (now the “JVC Jazz Festival”) in New York since 1975 and the Grande Parade Du Jazz in Nice, France nine times. He has performed at every major jazz festival in the world including the Montreal Jazz Festival; North Sea Jazz Festival at the Hague, the Netherlands; the Montreux and Bern Jazz Festivals in Switzerland; the Berlin, Munich, Cologne and Stuttgart Jazz Festivals in Germany along with many tours throughout Europe, Australia, the Far East, the Americas and the Caribbean.
In 1976, Miles played a royal Command Performance for Her Majesty the Queen of England which was televised throughout all of Europe. He was leader of the group Jazz Express in the 1980s and 1990s. He performed at the Newport Jazz Festival and the Montreux Jazz Festival.
He appeared on “60 Minutes”, “The Tonight Show” starring Johnny Carson, “The Merv Griffin Show”, and six times on “The Jerry Lewis Telethon”. Internationally, Butch has made personal appearances on radio and television stations throughout the world. He has also appeared in three motion pictures: “The Australian Jazz Fest” filmed while Butch was touring Australia with the Dave Brubeck Quartet, “The Last of the Blue Devils” filmed on location while he was touring with the Count Basie Orchestra and briefly in Woody Allen’s “Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
In March 2014, Miles was diagnosed with idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. which has no treatment other than a lung transplant. He left his teaching post as a faculty member in jazz studies at Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas, received a lung transplant, and went into a period of recovery.

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