Jerry Butler (singer)

Jerry Butler
Birth name Jerry Butler, Jr.
Born December 8, 1939 (1939-12-08) (age 71)
Sunflower, Mississippi
Origin Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Genres Chicago soul, funk, soul, R&B
Occupations Singer, songwriter, record producer, multi-instrumentalist, politician
Instruments Singing, guitar, electric guitar, bass, piano, saxophone, drums
Years active 1958–present
Labels Vee-Jay, Mercury, Motown, Rhino
Associated acts The Impressions, Curtis Mayfield

Jerry Butler (born Jerry Butler Jr., December 8, 1939, Sunflower, Mississippi)[1] is an American soul singer and songwriter. He is also noted as being the original lead singer of the R&B vocal group, The Impressions, as well as a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee.

Butler is also an American politician. He serves as a Commissioner for Cook County, Illinois, having first been elected in 1985. As a member of this 17-member county board, he chairs the Health and Hospitals Committee, and serves as Vice Chair of the Construction Committee.



Early life

The mid 1950s had a profound impact on Butler's life. He grew up poor, having lived in Chicago's Cabrini–Green housing complex. Music and the church provided solace from a city that was as segregated as those in the Deep South.[citation needed] He performed in a church choir with Curtis Mayfield. As a teenager, Butler sang in a gospel quartet called Northern Jubilee Gospel Singers, along with Mayfield. Mayfield, a guitar player, became the lone instrumentalist for the six-member Roosters group, which later became The Impressions. Inspired by Sam Cooke and the Soul Stirrers, the Five Blind Boys of Mississippi, and the Pilgrim Travelers, getting into the music industry seemed inevitable.[2]

Butler's younger brother, Billy Butler, also had a career in the music industry. Today, Billy plays guitar with Jerry's band, which tours throughout the country.

Early recordings

Butler wrote the song "For Your Precious Love" (which is ranked #327 on the Rolling Stone magazine's list of The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time) and wanted to record a disc. Looking for recording studios, The Impressions auditioned for Chess Records and Vee-Jay Records. The group eventually signed with Vee-Jay, where they released "For Your Precious Love" in 1958. It became The Impressions' first hit and gold record.

Solo career

Butler was dubbed the "Iceman" by WDAS Philadelphia disc jockey, Georgie Woods, while performing in a Philadelphia theater.

He co-wrote, with Otis Redding, the song "I've Been Loving You Too Long" in 1965. Butler’s solo career had a string of hits, including the Top 10 successes "He Will Break Your Heart", "Find Another Girl", "I'm A-Telling You" (all written by fellow Impression Curtis Mayfield and featuring Mayfield as harmony vocal), the million selling[1] "Only the Strong Survive," "Moon River" (note that it was Jerry's vocal, not Andy Williams, that hit on single records), "Need To Belong" (recorded with the Impressions after he went solo), "Make It Easy On Yourself," "Let It Be Me" (with Betty Everett), "Brand New Me," "Ain't Understanding Mellow" (with Brenda Lee Eager), "Hey, Western Union Man", and "Never Give You Up." Butler released two successful albums, The Ice Man Cometh (1968) and Ice On Ice (1970). The Ice Man Cometh garnered Butler three Grammy nominations. He collaborated on many of his successful recordings with the Philadelphia-based songwriting team, Gamble and Huff. With Motown, in 1976 and 1977, Butler produced and co-produced (with Paul David Wilson) two albums: 1.) “Suite For The Single Girl” and 2.) “It All Comes Out In My Song.”

Tony Orlando and Dawn revived "He Will Break Your Heart" in 1975, with a new title, "He Don't Love You (Like I Love You)," and it was more successful than Butler's original, going to #1 on the US Billboard Hot 100 pop chart.[2]

Subsequently, Butler and Wilson produced an album with Dee Dee Sharp-Gamble with Philadelphia International. In 1981 with "Breaking and Entering" / "Easy Money," from Sharp-Gamble's album Dee Dee, Butler/Wilson’s production spent four weeks at number one on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart and Dance Chart Billboard.[3]

1980s to date

Butler continues to perform while serving as a Cook County Board Commissioner since the 1980s. As Cook County Commissioner, Butler voted to uphold an historic 2008 Cook County sales tax increase, which remains the highest in the nation. As a result the Chicago Tribune has encouraged people to vote against him in the 2010 elections.[4]

In recent years, he has served as host of PBS TV music specials such as Doo Wop 50 and 51, Rock Rhythm and Doo Wop, and Soul Spectacular: 40 years of R&B, among others. He has also served as Chairman of the Board of the Rhythm and Blues Foundation. In 1991, Butler was inducted, along with the other original members of the Impressions (Curtis Mayfield, Sam Gooden, Fred Cash, and Arthur and Richard Brooks), into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.[2]

Most recently, blues-rock duo The Black Keys covered "Never Give You Up" on their 2010 album, Brothers.

Personal life

He currently resides in Chicago with his wife, Annette—who is one of his backup singers on the road. He has two sons, Randy and Tony, and a grandson.


Year Single Chart positions
1958 "For Your Precious Love"(with the Impressions) 11 3
"Come Back My Love"(with the Impressions) 29
1959 "Lost" 17
1960 "A Lonely Soldier" 25
"He Will Break Your Heart" 7 1
1961 "Find Another Girl" 27 10
"I'm a Telling You" 25 8
"Moon River" 11 14 3
"Aware of Love" 105
1962 "Make It Easy On Yourself" 20 18
"You Can Run (But You Can't Hide)" 63 23
"Theme from Taras Bulba (The Wishing Star)" 100
1963 "Whatever You Want" 68
"Need To Belong" 31 *
1964 "Giving Up On Love" 56 *
"I Stand Accused" 61 *
"I Don't Want To Hear It Anymore" 95 *
"Let It Be Me"(with Betty Everett) 5 *
"Ain't That Loving You Baby"(with Betty Everett) 108 *
"Smile"(with Betty Everett) 42 *
1965 "Good Times" 64 33
"I Can't Stand To See You Cry" 122
"Just For You" 33
1966 "For Your Precious Love"(re-recording) 25
"Love (Oh, How Sweet It Is)" 103 34
1967 "I Dig You Baby" 60 8
"Mr. Dream Merchant" 38 56
"Lost" 62 48
1968 "Never Give You Up" 20 7
"Hey, Western Union Man" 16 1
"Are You Happy" 39 9
1969 "Only the Strong Survive" 4 1
"Moody Woman" 24 3
"What's the Use of Breaking Up" 20 4
"A Brand New Me" 109
"Don't Let Love Hang You Up" 44 12
1970 "Got To See If I Can Get Mommy (To Come Back Home)" 62 21
"I Could Write a Book" 46 15
"Where Are You Going" 95 42
"Special Memory" 109 36
1971 "You Just Can't Win (By Making the Same Mistakes)"(Gene & Jerry) 94 32
"Ten and Two (Take This Woman Off the Corner)"(Gene & Jerry) 126 44
"If It's Real What I Feel"(with Brenda Lee Eager) 69 8
"Ain't Understanding Mellow"(with Brenda Lee Eager) 21 3
"How Did We Lose It Baby" 85 38
"Walk Easy My Son" 93 33
1972 "I Only Have Eyes For You" 85 20
"Close To You"(with Brenda Lee Eager) 91 6
"One Night Affair" 52 6
1973 "Can't Understand It"(with Brenda Lee Eager) 26
"The Love We Had Stays On My Mind"(with Brenda Lee Eager) 64
"Power of Love" 15
1974 "That's How Heartaches Are Made" 58
"Take the Time To Tell Her" 46
"Playing On You" 33
1976 "The Devil In Mrs. Jones" 55
1977 "I Wanna Do It To You" 51 7
"Chalk It Up" 28
"It's a Lifetime Thing"(with Thelma Houston) 55
1978 "(I'm Just Thinking About) Cooling Out" 14
1979 "Nothing Says I Love You Like I Love You" 86
1980 "The Best Love I Ever Had" 49
"Don't Be An Island"(with Debra Henry) 75
1982 "No Love Without Changes" 83
1983 "In My Life"(with Patti Austin) 92

| * no RnB charts published during the chart runs of these singles

See also


  1. ^ a b Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. p. 255. ISBN 0-214-20512-6. 
  2. ^ a b c
  3. ^ "Breaking and Entering", Produce by Jerry Butler and Paul David Wilson". Dee Dee Sharp Gamble (Billboard). Retrieved 1981. 
  4. ^ Tribune


  • Pruter, Robert. Chicago Soul. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 1991, ISBN 978-025206259-9

External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Jerry Butler — is the name of: Jerry Butler (singer) (born 1939), American soul singer and Chicago politician Jerry Butler (American football) (born 1957), former NFL wide receiver Jerry Butler (ice hockey) (born 1951), professional ice hockey player Jerry… …   Wikipedia

  • Billy Butler (singer) — Billy Butler (b. June 7, 1945) is an American soul singer and songwriter active principally in the 1960s.Butler was Jerry Butler s younger brother. [Richie Unterberger, [ sql=11:hifqxqt5ldje T1 Billy… …   Wikipedia

  • Butler (surname) — Butler is a surname that has been associated with many different places and people. It can be either: * an English occupational name that originally denoted a servant in charge of the wine cellar, from the Norman French word butuiller . It… …   Wikipedia

  • Jerry Cantrell — Alice In Chains January 05, 2007 Background information Born March 18, 1966 (1966 03 18) …   Wikipedia

  • Jerry Rice — Rice in April 2006 No. 80, 19      Wide Receiver Personal information Date …   Wikipedia

  • Jerry Reed — Not to be confused with the American major league pitcher, Jerry Maxwell Reed. Jerry Reed Background information Birth name Jerry Reed Hubbard …   Wikipedia

  • Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller — Jerome Jerry Leiber (April 25, 1933 – August 22, 2011)[1] and Mike Stoller (born March 13, 1933) were American songwriting and record producing partners. Stoller was the composer and Leiber the lyricist. Their most famous songs include Hound Dog …   Wikipedia

  • Jerry Jewell — This article is about the actor Jerry Jewell. For the founder of Sirius Software, see Sirius Software. Jerry Jewell Jerry Jewell at Anime Vegas 2007. Born Jerry Dean Jewell July 30, 1976 …   Wikipedia

  • Jerry Thorpe — Richard Jerome Jerry Thorpe (born 1926) is an American TV and film director and producer. He won an Emmy award for his work on an episode of Kung Fu. External links Jerry Thorpe at the Internet Movie Database …   Wikipedia

  • Chicago soul — Stylistic origins Gospel music, doo wop, soul music Cultural origins Early 1960s, Chicago Typical instruments Guitar Bass drums Horn section Vocals …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.