Lester Butler

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Lester Butler
Birth nameLester Butler
Born(1959-11-12)November 12, 1959
Virginia, United States
DiedMay 9, 1998(1998-05-09) (aged 38)
InstrumentsHarmonica, vocals

Lester Butler (November 12, 1959 – May 9, 1998)[1] was an American blues harmonica player and singer. He achieved fame as the singer and harmonica player for the Los Angeles, California, based blues roots band, The Red Devils


Butler was born in Virginia, United States.[2]

The Red Devils (originally known as The Blue Shadows) released one album, 1992's King King. It was produced by Rick Rubin on his Def American record label. The group featured drummer Bill Bateman (of The Blasters), Johnny Ray Bartel on bass, Dave Lee Bartel on rhythm guitar, Paul Size on lead guitar, and pianist Gene Taylor. The Red Devils recorded 22 tracks with Mick Jagger in June 1992, again produced by Rubin, though the tracks were not issued at the time (they have since cropped up on various bootlegs, and one track was officially released on a Jagger compilation on Rhino Records in 2007). The band also backed the actor and sometime musician Bruce Willis, when the action star performed at his Planet Hollywood clubs. The Devils also backed Johnny Cash on music that was not released until after the country singer's death, on the boxed set Unearthed. Butler also played on Rancid's 1998 album Life Won't Wait.

After the breakup of The Red Devils, Butler also fronted the band, '13', releasing one self-titled record on Hightone Records in 1997. The original members of '13' included Kid Ramos on guitar, James Intveld on bass, and Johnny Morgan on drums. The recorded release of '13' on Hightone Records was produced by Warren Croyle and features Stephen Hodges and Johnny Morgan on drums, Tom Leavey and James Moore on bass, Andy Kaulkin on keyboards, with Alex Schultz, Smokey Hormel, Paul Bryant, and Doug Hamlin on guitar. Butler achieved his greatest fame in Europe, especially the Netherlands, where the 'Lester Butler Tribute Band' still performs.

Butler died of an overdose of heroin and cocaine on May 9, 1998, in Los Angeles at the age of 38.[2] Two of his friends, who were involved in his overdose, were convicted of involuntary manslaughter.

Work with other artists[edit]

Butler played harmonica on "Shake Your Hips" track which appears on the Billy Boy Arnold album, Back Where I Belong, released on Alligator in 1993.[3] Along with Zach Zunis and Jimmy Rip, Butler played on the King Ernest album, King of Hearts which was released in 1997.[4]


  • King King - The Red Devils (Def American, 1992; reissues: American Recordings, 1998; Music On Vinyl, 2012 [2-LP]; Music On CD, 2015)
  • 13 featuring Lester Butler - 13 featuring Lester Butler (Hightone, 1997; reissue: Rockbeat, 2011)
  • Live @ Tamines 1997 - Lester Butler featuring 13 (Rockbeat, 2015 [2-CD])


  1. ^ Biography by Char Ham. "Lester Butler | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-08-21.
  2. ^ a b Doc Rock. "The Dead Rock Stars Club 1998 - 1999". Thedeadrockstarsclub.com. Retrieved 2016-08-21.
  3. ^ Discogs - Billy Boy Arnold – Back Where I Belong
  4. ^ AllMusic - King Ernest, King of Hearts, Credits

External links[edit]