Soul Singer Jerry Butler, Still Strong, Still Surviving

Thursday, August 18, 2011 11:28
Posted in category In the News, Upcoming Shows

By Angela Carone |

Above: Veteran soul singer Jerry Butler gives a rare performance in San Diego - Saturday and Sunday - at Anthology in Little Italy.

Above: Veteran soul singer Jerry Butler gives a rare performance in San Diego - Saturday and Sunday - at Anthology in Little Italy.

The contemporary rock duo The Black Keys covered the song “Never Gonna Give You Up” on their hit album from 2010 “Brothers.” The song was written and first recorded by Chicago soul singer Jerry Butler.

During a recent phone interview, I asked Butler what he thought of the Black Key’s cover. I was surprised to find he didn’t know about it. The 72-year-old singer responded: “If you run into them, please thank them for me. And if they hear this, thank you fellas, I appreciate that.”

That’s the kind of gracious response Jerry Butler is known for. After all, he’s survived in the music industry for over 50 years, and he’s been in Chicago politics for 25. You don’t survive in either industry without making friends along the way.

Butler grew up on the North side of Chicago in the 1950s. He and Curtis Mayfield started singing together in church. Butler says a lot of soul and R&B musicians come up that way. He explains with a chuckle, “The first place you can go and perform is in a church and someone’s gonna say ‘Amen’ whether you’re good or bad.”

Butler and Mayfield formed the doo-wop group The Impressions and they made a splash with a song Butler wrote as a poem at the age of 16. “For Your Precious Love” was a surprise hit in 1958. “In the days of rhythm and blues and rock ‘n’ roll, everything was pretty much juked up so the kids could dance and all,” says Butler.

Shows like “American Bandstand” helped launch musical careers back then, but Dick Clark had to be convinced to play a slow song on a show known for high energy dancing. When Clark agreed to play “For Your Precious Love,” everyone slow danced. Butler slyly adds, “and they found out they liked it!”

Soon after the success of “For Your Precious Love,” Butler left the Impressions and started a solo career. (The band would later become Curtis Mayfield and The Impressions.) But Butler and Mayfield would team up again in 1960. Together they wrote and performed the hit song “He Will Break Your Heart.”

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WHAT: Jerry “The Iceman” Butler – Rock & Roll Hall of Famer and Co-Founder of The Impressions
WHEN: Saturday, August 20th, 2011, 7:30 & 9:30pm and Sunday, August 21st, 2011, 7:00pm
TICKETS: $17-$63 Buy Tickets
MORE INFO: Artist Profile