Jerry Butler (Born 08/12/1939)
|Butler is one of a handful of artists who were around at the beginning of the R&B / Soul boom and stayed the pace through the increasingly sophisticated recordings of the late 60s and early 70s and beyond.
One of the great soul voices, effortlessly powerful and emotive, he initially found fame as a member of the Impressions with Curtis Mayfield and sang the impassioned lead on 'For Your Precious Love' in 1958 (written by Butler incidentally, although Mayfield would of course go on to be one of the leading writers working in the soul idiom).
Butler soon broke away from the Impressions and had his first solo hit in 1960 with 'He Will Break Your Heart'. He then had a number of successes for the VeeJay label, including 'Make It Easy On Yourself' (covered by the Walker Brothers) and 'I Stand Accused' as well as a couple of successful duets with Betty Everett, 'Let It Be Me' being the best example. These early hits (28 of them) can be found on "Sweetest Soul" on the RPM label.
Butler moved onto Mercury in 1966 and the second phase of his solo career began. He teamed up with Gamble and Huff and had yet another string of successful singles - 'Never Give You Up', 'Hey Western Union Man', 'Only The Strong Survive' and 'What's The Use Of Breaking Up' are just a few; two wonderful albums also ensued, "The Iceman Cometh" in 1968 and "Ice On Ice" in 1970, both of which strengthened his reputation as a fully rounded artist and performer. All this excellent material is available on the compilation "Iceman - The Mercury Years". Another release covering the same period is the very fine "The Philadelphia Sessions".
Apart from his undeniable abilities as a singer (I defy anyone to not warm to his voice, even if some of the material may not to be their liking) he is also important through his attempts to develop young songwriting talent through the creation of the Songwriters Workshop.