Butch Miles (born Charles J. Thorton, Jr.) passed away on February 2, 2023.
Miles was an American jazz drummer who collaborated with some of the greatest musicians from that world, including the Count Basie Orchestra, Dave Brubeck, Ella Fitzgerald, Sammy Davis Jr., Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Ray Charles, Gerry Mulligan or Mel Torme.
He was a graduate of West Virginia State University, where he studied at the music department. After graduating, he went on tour with the Iris Bell Trio and then Mel Torme. At that time, Miles was recommended to Count Basie by none other than Buddy Rich. He was a member of the Count Basie Orchestra from 1975 to 1979, and from 1997 to 2007.
Count Basie talked about him in his autobiography, published in 1985: “Butch 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.”
In the 1980s and 1990s, Butch Miles was the leader of the group Jazz Express. He performed at the most prestigious jazz events, such as the Newport Jazz Festival and the Montreux Jazz Festival. The musician was also a teacher at Texas State University-San Marcos.
Miles suffered from idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis and underwent a lung transplant a few years ago. He died at the age of 78.
Texas State University, Jazz Studies: “It fills us with sadness to learn of the death of the great Butch Miles. He had a resume a mile long, and was one of the world’s most swingin’ drummers, but he was also a wonderful teacher, colleague, and human being. His influence on Texas State will always be appreciated, his time here helped the program immensely. Rest in peace, Butch.”
Tommy Igoe: “RIP to a true gentleman of our instrument and a swingin’ MFer. He and my dad were very tight and I got to know Butch later on as I came of age and we ran into each other on the road. A great cat and will be truly missed.”