Jerry Butler

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For other people named Jerry Butler, see Jerry Butler (disambiguation).
Jerry Butler
Jerry Butler (1970).png
Butler in 1970
Background information
Birth name Jerry Butler, Jr.
Also known as The Iceman
Born (1939-12-08) December 8, 1939 (age 76)
Sunflower, Mississippi, U.S.
Origin Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
  • Singer
  • songwriter
  • record producer
  • multi-instrumentalist
  • politician
  • Singing
  • guitar
  • electric guitar
  • bass
  • piano
  • saxophone
  • drums
Years active 1958–present
Associated acts

Jerry Butler, Jr. (born December 8, 1939) is an American soul singer and songwriter. He is also noted as being the original lead singer of the famed R&B vocal group the Impressions, as well as a 1991 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[edit]

Butler was born in Sunflower, Mississippi in 1939.[1] 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 the poverty of the slums he lived in, and difficulties of a predominantly segregated society.[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, including playing guitar with Jerry's band, until his death in 2015.

Early recordings[edit]

Main article: The Impressions

Butler co-wrote the song "For Your Precious Love" (which is ranked No. 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 (the original members of which were Butler, Curtis Mayfield, Sam Gooden, Fred Cash - who left early on, and later returned - and brothers Arthur and Richard Brooks), 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[edit]

Butler was dubbed the "Iceman" by WDAS Philadelphia disc jockey, Georgie Woods, while performing in a Philadelphia theater.[3]

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", "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". His 1969 "Moody Woman" release became a Northern Soul favourite and featured at number 369 in the Northern Soul Top 500. Butler released two successful albums, The Ice Man Cometh (1968) and Ice on Ice (1969). 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: Suite for the Single Girl and 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 number one on the US Billboard Hot 100 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 Billboard Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart.


Butler continues to perform while serving as a Cook County Board Commissioner since the 1980s. As Cook County Commissioner, Butler voted to uphold a historic 2008 Cook County sales tax increase, which remains the highest in the nation. As a result, the Chicago Tribune encouraged people to vote against him in the 2010 elections.[4] Butler, however, won reelection in March 2014 with over 80 percent of the vote.[5]

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[edit]

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, Jeriel.

Since his 1991 induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as a member of the Impressions, several music writers and critics[6] have stated that Butler also deserves a second induction as a solo artist, based upon his career as a recording artist and songwriter after leaving that group.


Year Single (A-side, B-side) Chart positions Album
1958 "For Your Precious Love"
b/w "Sweet Was The Wine" (from He Will Break Your Heart)
Both tracks with The Impressions
11 3 Jerry Butler, esq.
"Come Back My Love"
b/w "Love Me" (from Aware Of Love)
Both tracks with The Impressions
1959 "Lost"
b/w "One By One" (from Aware Of Love)
"I Was Wrong"
b/w "Couldn't Go To Sleep" (from Aware Of Love)
1960 "A Lonely Soldier"
b/w "I Found A Love"
25 He Will Break Your Heart
"He Will Break Your Heart"
b/w "Thanks To You"
7 1
"Silent Night"
b/w "O Holy Night"
Non-album tracks
1961 "Find Another Girl"
b/w "When Trouble Calls"
27 10 Aware Of Love
"I'm A Telling You"
b/w "I See A Fool"
25 8
"Moon River" / 11 14 3 Need To Belong
"Aware Of Love" 105 Aware Of Love
1962 "Isle Of Sirens"
b/w "Chi Town" (from Jerry Butler, esq.)
Need To Belong
"Make It Easy on Yourself"
b/w "It's Too Late" (Non-album track)
20 18
"You Can Run (But You Can't Hide)"
b/w "I'm The One" (Non-album track)
63 23
"Theme from Taras Bulba (The Wishing Star)"
b/w "You Go Right Through Me" (from Jerry Butler, esq.)
100 Non-album track
1963 "Whatever You Want"
b/w '"You Won't Be Sorry" (Non-album track)
68 Need To Belong
"I Almost Lost My Mind"
b/w "Strawberries" (from Need To Belong)
Non-album track
"Where's The Girl"
b/w "How Beautifully You Lie"
Need To Belong
"A Woman With Soul"
b/w "Just A Little Bit" (from More Of The Best Of Jerry Butler)
Non-album track
"Need To Belong"
b/w "Give Me Your Love" (from He Will Break Your Heart)
31 * Need To Belong
1964 "Giving Up On Love"
b/w "I've Been Trying" (Non-album track)
56 *
"I Stand Accused" / 61 * More Of The Best Of Jerry Butler
"I Don't Want To Hear It Anymore" 95 *
"Let It Be Me" (with Betty Everett) / 5 * Delicious Together
"Ain't That Lovin' You, Baby" (with Betty Everett) 108 *
b/w "Love Is Strange" (from Delicious Together)
Both tracks with Betty Everett
42 * More Of The Best Of Jerry Butler
1965 "Good Times"
b/w "I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face"
64 33 Non-album tracks
"Since I Don't Have You"
b/w "Just Be True"
Both tracks with Betty Everett
Delicious Together
"I Can't Stand To See You Cry"
b/w "Nobody Needs Your Love (More Than I Do)"
122 Non-album tracks
"Just For You"
b/w "Believe In Me" (from The Impressions With Jerry Butler)
1966 "For Your Precious Love" (re-recording)
b/w "Give It Up" (Non-album track)
25 Love Me
"Love (Oh, How Sweet It Is)"
b/w "Loneliness" (from The Best Of Jerry Butler (Mercury)
103 34 Non-album tracks
"You Make Me Feel Like Someone"
b/w "For What You Made Of Me"
"I Dig You Baby"
b/w "Some Kinda Magic"
Soul Artistry
1967 "You Walked Into My Life"
b/w "Why Did I Lose You"
"You Don't Know What You Got Until You Lose It"
b/w "The Way I Love You (Nobody Ever Loved Anybody)" (from Mr. Dream Merchant)
"Mr. Dream Merchant"
b/w "Cause I Love You So" (Non-album track)
38 56 Mr. Dream Merchant
b/w "You Don't Know What You Got Until You Lose It" (from Soul Artistry)
62 48
1968 "Never Give You Up"
b/w "Beside You" (from Mr. Dream Merchant)
20 7 The Ice Man Cometh
"Hey, Western Union Man"
b/w "Just Can't Forget About You"
16 1
"Are You Happy"
b/w "(Strange) I Still Love You"
39 9
1969 "Only the Strong Survive"
b/w "Just Because I Really Love You"
4 1
"Moody Woman"
b/w "Go Away, Find Yourself" (from The Ice Man Cometh)
24 3 Ice On Ice
"What's The Use Of Breaking Up" / 20 4
"A Brand New Me" 109
"Don't Let Love Hang You Up"
b/w "Walking Around In Teardrops"
44 12
1970 "Got To See If I Can Get Mommy (To Come Back Home)"
b/w "I Forgot To Remember"
62 21
"I Could Write A Book"
b/w "Since I Lost You Lady" (from Ice On Ice)
46 15 You & Me
"Where Are You Going"
b/w "You Can Fly"
95 42 "Joe" -- Original Soundtrack
"Special Memory"
b/w "How Does It Feel"
109 36 Assorted Sounds With The Aid Of Assorted Friends and Relatives
1971 "You Just Can't Win (By Making the Same Mistakes)"
b/w "Sho Is Grooving"
Both tracks by Gene (Chandler) & Jerry (Butler)
94 32 Gene & Jerry -- One & One
"Ten and Two (Take This Woman Off the Corner)"
b/w "Everybody Is Waiting"
Both tracks by Gene (Chandler) & Jerry (Butler)
126 44
"If It's Real What I Feel" (with Brenda Lee Eager)
b/w "Why Are You Leaving Me"
69 8 Assorted Sounds With The Aid Of Assorted Friends and Relatives
"Ain't Understanding Mellow" (with Brenda Lee Eager)
b/w "Windy City Soul"
21 3 The Sagittarius Movement
"How Did We Lose It Baby"
b/w "Do You Finally Need A Friend"
85 38 Assorted Sounds With The Aid Of Assorted Friends and Relatives
"Walk Easy My Son"
b/w "Let Me Be"
93 33 The Sagittarius Movement
1972 "I Only Have Eyes For You"
b/w "A Prayer"
85 20 The Spice Of Life
"Close To You"
b/w "You Can't Always Tell"
Both tracks with Brenda Lee Eager
91 6
"One Night Affair"
b/w "Life's Unfortunate Sons" (from You & Me)
52 6
1973 "Can't Understand It"
b/w "How Long Will It Last"
Both sides with Brenda Lee Eager
26 The Love We Have, The Love We Had
"The Love We Had Stays On My Mind"
b/w "Were We Lovers, Were We Friends"
Both tracks with Brenda Lee Eager
"Power Of Love"
b/w "What Do You Do On A Sunday Afternoon"
15 Power Of Love
1974 "That's How Heartaches Are Made"
b/w "Too Many Danger Signs"
"Take The Time To Tell Her"
b/w "High Stepper"
46 Sweet Sixteen
"Playing On You"
b/w "You and Me Against The World"
1976 "The Devil In Mrs. Jones"
b/w "I Don't Wanna Be Reminded"
55 Love's On The Menu
1977 "I Wanna Do It To You"
b/w "I Don't Wanna Be Reminded" (from Love's On The Menu)
51 7 Suite For The Single Girl
"Chalk It Up"
b/w "I Don't Want Nobody To Know" (from Love's On The Menu)
"It's A Lifetime Thing"
b/w "Kiss Me Now" (Non-album track)
Both tracks with Thelma Houston)
55 Thelma & Jerry
1978 "(I'm Just Thinking About) Cooling Out"
b/w "Are You Lonely Tonight"
14 Nothing Says I Love You Like I Love You
1979 "Nothing Says I Love You Like I Love You"
b/w "I'm Glad To Be Back"
"Let's Make Love"
b/w "Dream World"
1980 "The Best Love I Ever Had"
b/w "Would You Mind"
49 The Best Love
"Don't Be An Island" (with Debra Henry)
b/w "The Best Love I Ever Had" (Slow version)
1982 "No Love Without Changes"
b/w "All The Way"
83 Ice 'N Hot
1983 "In My Life" (with Patti Austin)
B-side by Patti Austin: "What's At The End Of A Rainbow"
92 Non-album track

NB. * no R&B chart published during the chart runs of these singles

See also[edit]


  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 "Jerry Butler Pictures, biography, Albums, Ringtones, Videos". December 8, 1939. Retrieved 2014-06-26. 
  3. ^ Huffman, Eddie (October 25, 2012). "Iceman to bring cool sound". News & Record. Retrieved October 25, 2012. 
  4. ^ [1] Archived May 15, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.‹The template Wayback is being considered for merging.› 
  5. ^ "Jerry "Iceman" Butler re-elected Cook County Commissioner". March 20, 2014. Retrieved 2014-12-15. 
  6. ^ Marder, Phil. "For Rock Hall of Fame, Supposed "Influence" More Important Than Mass Popularity?". Retrieved 14 October 2011. 


External links[edit]