Jerry Butler was born in Sunflower, Mississippi in 1939. His family moved to Chicago in 1944. His interest in singing began with singing in church groups and with the Northern Jubilee Gospel Singers. Curtis Mayfield was also a member of that group.
Butler and Mayfield joined an R&B group, The Quails. But, in 1957, he and Mayfield would join another vocal group, The Roosters, with Sam Gooden and his brothers, Arthur and Richard Brooks. In 1957, they changed their name to The Impressions and he would only have huge success with them. Butler left the group in 1958 to pursue a solo career. Mayfield would continue with The Impressions and have a string of hits.
It was nicknamed “The Iceman” by Philadelphia disc jockey Georgie Woods, who saw Butler perform there.
Butler also wrote many songs, including co-writing “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long” with Otis Redding.
Jerry Butler would go on to have a successful solo career, scoring thirty-nine hits on the Billboard Hot 100 charts. On the Billboard R&B charts, he would have three number one hits.
Here’s a look at Jerry Butler’s ten biggest pop hits according to the Billboard Top Pop Singles charts.
1. Only the strong Survive – 1969 – Written by Butler and Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, their biggest pop song would go to number one on the R&B charts. Elvis Presley and Billy Paul would cover this song.
two. let it be me – 1964 – Here, Jerry teams up with soul singer Betty Everett. Previously released by the Everly Brothers in 1960, this song was first recorded as a French song in 1955 as “Je t’appartiens”.
3. he will break your heart – 1960 – Written by Butler and Curtis Mayfield, Tony Orlando and Dawn took this song to number one in 1975 and changed the title to “He Don’t Love You (Like I Do)”.
Four. Moon River – 1961 – Although Butler’s version reached number eleven on the charts, this Henry Mancini/Johnny Mercer tune won the Academy Award for Best Original Song sung by Audrey Hepburn in the 1961 film “Breakfast At Tiffany’s.” “. Andy Williams never released this song as a single, he used it as his title track.
5. for your precious love – 1958 – Butler’s only hit with The Impressions was number 335 on Rolling Stone magazine’s Top 500 Songs of All Time in 2010. He would re-record this song in 1966, but it barely made it into the weekly charts. top 100
6. Hey West Union man – 1968 – This was Butler’s second number one single on the Billboard R&B charts. It reached number 16 on the charts.
7. Never give up – 1968 – From their album “The Iceman Cometh”, it was covered in 2010 by The Black Keys as “Never Gonna Give You Up”.
8. make it easier – 1962 – Written by Burt Bacharach and Hal David, it was originally recorded by Dionne Warwick, but her label didn’t want to release it. Butler upon hearing the track, used the same arrangement as Warwick’s and Butler had her first solo hit from her. In 1965, The Walker Brothers also had a top 20 hit.
9. What’s the use of breaking? – 1969 – From his “Ice On Ice” album, the flip side of this top-twenty hit was “Brand New Me,” which never made the Top 100 charts, but was a big hit for Dusty Springfield.
10 I don’t understand soft – 1971 – Jerry teamed up with artist Brenda Lee Eager for this soulful tune. Eager was the lead vocalist with Butler’s backup singers and they recorded several songs together that charted, but none as successful as this one.
Today, Jerry Butler continues to perform while serving as a Cook County Board Commissioner. He won re-election in 2014. He currently lives in Chicago with his wife, Annette, who is one of his showgirls. He has hosted PBS TV music specials with many Doo Wop and R&B groups.
In 1991, Jerry Butler was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
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