I heard that the former bassist of Iron Butterfly was an innovative scientist who was killed after finding out in his research that objects could go faster than light. Is this true? It seems pretty bizarre.

Philip “Taylor” Kramer, born in 1952, joined an Iron Butterfly reunion in 1974, and recorded two forgotten albums with the band (whose “In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida” heyday was some years behind them). When the group broke up again in 1977, he got an engineering degree, worked on the MX missile, and later, specialized in video compression.

In early 1995, Kramer said that he had developed a formula for instantaneous transmission of matter, exciting anyone who ever wanted a Star Trek transporter. You might want to consider his claim with some skepticism: around the same time, he also said that the earth was about to be consumed by a supernova and that his wife was actually Mother Earth. On February 12th, Kramer called 911 from Los Angeles International Airport, told the operator he was going to kill himself and that “O.J. is innocent,” and then vanished. His disappearance fueled talk of foul play or alien abduction–until 1999, when hikers found Kramer’s body at the bottom of a 200-foot ravine in Malibu, California. The evidence suggests that Kramer had become mentally unbalanced and, tragically, made good on his threats of suicide.

(Excerpted from the 2006 book Is Tiny Dancer Really Elton’s Little John?: Music’s Most Enduring Mysteries, Myths, and Rumors Revealed, published by Three Rivers Press, written by Gavin Edwards.)