NAME: Philip “Taylor” Kramer
DESCRIPTION: Bass player and lead singer for Iron Butterfly.
LAST SEEN: In the FBI’s missing persons files.
Calling from his office in Thousand Oaks, Calif., Philip “Taylor” Kramer telephoned Variety exactly one year ago to hype his technology company, Total MultiMedia.
“We’ve got something we’re developing that’ll really blow you away,” he promised, “but we’re not ready to announce any of it yet.”
Kramer still hasn’t made that announcement. The former member of Iron Butterfly, the ’60s rock band whose song “In A Gadda Da Vida” remains one of the all-time psychedelic classics, has turned up missing.
It seems that 42-year-old Kramer, 6-foot 5-inches and 220 pounds, left his wife and two children at home in Thousand Oaks on the morning of Feb. 12 to pick up a business associate at Los Angeles Intl. Airport. He never met the incoming visitor. He left an IOU for $3 with the LAX parking garage and drove his 1993 Ford Aerostar van into oblivion.
The son of a professor of electrical engineering, Kramer was a science whiz who won first prize at a science fair at age 12 with a homemade laser that could shoot down a balloon. He later took up music and joined Iron Butterfly’s second lineup, touring and recording from 1971 until the group’s breakup in 1975.
In 1990, Kramer founded Total MultiMedia with a major investment from Randy Jackson (Michael’s brother). The company obtained the exclusive worldwide license to technology used to compress video for CD-ROMs. TMM’s clients include Compton’s NewMedia and Spectrum Holobyte, the vidgame company, for its latest “Star Trek” CD-ROM. The company ran into trouble, however, undergoing a Chapter 11 bankruptcy and reorganization as well as corporate infighting among execs. TMM was said to be re-emerging from its problems at the time Kramer disappeared.
Police say that no trace of Kramer or his vehicle have been found. A private investigator hired by Kramer’s company searched for a month with no leads. Kramer’s father Ray, sister Kathryn and his wife recently taped an episode of “Unsolved Mysteries” to be aired in November.
Many theories for the disappearance are floating around, from mental disturbance to a conspiracy straight out of a ’50s sci-fi B movie.
Congressman James Traficant Jr. urged the FBI to look into the former rocker’s disappearance, saying that national security could be at stake. The FBI has placed Kramer into the missing persons file of its computerized National Crime Information Center.
Meanwhile, Iron Butterfly has regrouped with some of its original lineup. The band has been touring and preparing a new album, according to Kramer’s old band buddy Ron Bushy, who is convinced the lost bass player is truly lost.
“I personally feel there’s some foul play involved,” he said sadly.