Larry Butler: The only country record producer to win a Grammy

 

At the Grammy Awards ceremony in February 1980, the Producer of the Year was Larry Butler, who had beaten off Mike Chapman, Quincy Jones, Ted Templeman and Maurice White. It is the firstand only time that a Nashville country music producer has had this honour. Butler might have lacked the inventiveness of Quincy Jones but his success was well deserved as he had produced a succession of major hit records and done much to revitalise the music.

Larry Butler was born in Pensacola, Florida in 1942 and he made a guest appearance singing with the Harry James Orchestra when he was six years old. He performed with various country stars as they passed through the state, and in his teens he was hosting both radio and television shows. He played in a beat group, Jerry Woodard and the Esquires. They made a few local rock'n'roll singles like "Boat Of Love".

In 1963 Butler went to Nashville and was signed by Buddy Killen for his music publishing company, Tree International. He settled in but made his first impressions as a pianist playing on Bobby Goldsboro's million-selling "Honey" (1968) and Conway Twitty's "Hello Darlin'" (1970). He worked on the road as Goldsboro's pianist and bandleader.

The Gentrys, a pop band was produced by Chips Moman, had a US hit with "Keep On Dancing" in 1965. Moman wanted to expand their sound and Butler was recruited to play organ from 1968 until they folded in 1970. He and Moman wrote "(Hey, Won't You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song", a US No 1 for BJ Thomas in 1975, which was also recorded by Billie Jo Spears, the Chipmunks and Sammy Davis Jr.

In 1969 Larry Butler produced his first hit single, a country hit, "Seven Lonely Days" for the veteran performer, Jean Shepard. He produced Johnny Cash notably for the albums A Thing Called Love (1972) including the million-selling title track, Any Old Wind That Blows (1973) and Gone Girl (1979). He worked with Cash on stage providing him with amusing piano variations for "I Walk The Line". In 1973 Butler was asked to take charge of United Artists' country music catalogue and he established Billie Jo Spears with "Blanket On The Ground" and "What I've Got In Mind".

Butler's most inspired moment was in realising the potential of a fading rock singer, Kenny Rogers, and having him sing country. He found the perfect story-songs for Rogers' well-worn voice and "Lucille" (1977), the story of a farmer cuckolded at crop time, topped the UK charts. An even more unlikely No 1 was "Coward Of The County" (1979), a revenge song about a gang rape. Another of their hits, "The Gambler" (1978), became a film with Rogers in the title role. Butler also teamed Rogers with Dottie West ("Every Time Two Fools Collide") and Kim Carnes ("Don't Fall In Love With A Dreamer").

Butler produced albums by Charlie Rich, Mac Davis and Jerry Jeff Walker as well as the British artist, Raymond Froggatt, whose album, Southern Fried Frog (1978), was well up to Nashville standards. He made his own album, Larry Butler And Friends, in 1977. He produced several albums for Don McLean as well as his UK No 1, "Crying" (1980), with the Jordanaires.

The workload was, however, sofar-reaching that he turned to cocaine to get him through. The hits dropped away and he left the business in 1982 to recover. In 1984 Butler formed his own publishing and production company and had success with records for George Strait, Mickey Newbury and Dean Dillon.

He tired of the business, though,and sold the company to Michael Jackson's manager, Frank Dileo. In 1995 he formed the low-key Nashville Music Consultants where he agreed to see new artists on a one-to-one basis and offer them advice.

Larry Butler, songwriter and record producer: born Pensacola, Florida 26 March 1942; married (one daughter); died Pensacola 20 January 2012.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Voices
There will be a chance to bid for a rare example of the SAS Diary, collated by a former member of the regiment in the aftermath of World War II but only published – in a limited run of just 5,000 – in 2011
charity appealTime is running out to secure your favourite lot as our auction closes at 2pm today
News
File: James Woods attends the 52nd New York Film Festival at Walter Reade Theater on September 27, 2014
peopleActor was tweeting in wake of NYPD police shooting
Sport
Martin Skrtel heads in the dramatic equaliser
SPORTLiverpool vs Arsenal match report: Bandaged Martin Skrtel heads home in the 97th-minute
News
Billie Whitelaw was best known for her close collaboration with playwright Samuel Beckett, here performing in a Beckett Trilogy at The Riverside Studios, Hammersmith
people'Omen' star was best known for stage work with Samuel Beckett
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executives - Outbound & Inbound

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Recruitment Genius: National Account Manager / Key Account Sales

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity has arisen for a...

Recruitment Genius: Operations Manager

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join...

Recruitment Genius: Recruitment Consultant

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: We have an excellent role for a...

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'