Paul Butler's third solo studio album, "Refugee", is scheduled for release sometime in the future. His second solo studio album, "Cities made of gold", was released in early 2015, and seen by some as a minor classic. His first solo album, “Days will come”, was released in February 2013 to widespread critical acclaim. But his story is a longer one than the span covering the release of his recent solo albums.
Paul Butler now usually plays solo folk/acoustic stuff shot through with the Blues. He can be found in small Blues clubs, the odd folkie venue, at occasional local open mic nights, and smaller festivals. He takes retirement seriously! He has played and recorded with B.B.King, Lightnin’Slim, Eddie Guitar Burns and Taj Mahal. However, as an electric blues guitarist, his earlier musical life represents an odyssey though the British Blues Boom years. He has shared stages/studios with Keef Hartley and Stan Webb , Ric Lee and Leo Lyons, Pete Wingfield, Rick Hayward, Steve York, Miller Anderson, Andy Pyle, John Altman, Tony Ashton, Pete Gage, Laurence Garman, Duster Bennet & Bernie Marsden among many. He parked his guitar in 1982 after one album with Chicken Shack, “Roadies Concerto” (1981).
Butler’s recording career began in 1964, when his first band, The Turnkeys, provided the “beat group music” for a Jim O’Connolly film, ”The little ones”(released in 1965). Interestingly, the group’s founder member was London harmonica man, Tim Hill, who would later front a band involving Bill Smith, one of the drummers later used by Butler. But it was after meeting pianist, Pete Wingfield, in 1967, that Butler’s recording career began in earnest. The association with legendary Blues producer, Mike Vernon, and his Blue Horizon label, saw Jellybread, the band that Wingfield and Butler initially formed with fellow students, Chris Waters and John Best, go on to produce 3 albums and 6 singles for Blue Horizon. Many of the recorded tracks were reprised in the 2008 Sony-BMG album, “Jellybread – The complete Blue Horizon sessions”. The last Jellybread album, “Back to begin again”, saw Butler team up with two members recruited from Christine Perfect’s band, Rick Hayward (guitars) and Kenny Lamb (drums). The association with Blue Horizon also gave Paul Butler the opportunity to record with B.B. King on his RCA released “In London” album in 1971. The session was filmed for "Sounding out", a BBC television special on the blues legend. Excerpts from the show re-appeared in “The story of the guitar” broadcast by the BBC in October, 2008. Later, Butler was to play on the two Mike Vernon albums, “Bring it on home” (1971) and “Moment of madness” (1973), and on the Lightnin’ Slim album, “London Gumbo” in 1972.
Despite supportive critical reviews, and considerable air play, Jellybread finally disbanded in 1973, after an abortive move to Transatlantic Records. Wingfield had already departed to follow a separate career path, but Paul Butler’s association with Transatlantic saw him join Punchin’ Judy, and he later recorded an album with another TA act, Dave Cartwright, in 1974 (“Don’t let your family down”). 1974 also saw his association with the Keef Hartley Band begin, going through several line-ups, and recording unreleased tracks. It was at this time that Butler re-connected with Ten Years After drummer, Ric Lee, whom he had first met at a Mike Vernon session. They recorded several tracks for Lee’s Fast Western outfit, counting Wingfield, Hartley and saxophonist, Gary Barnacle, amongst the session musicians. Although nothing came of these efforts, the pair was to meet again in 1979, when they joined with Stan Webb and Andy Pyle in a hard drinking Chicken Shack line-up that eventually saw the release of a live album, “Roadies’ Concerto”, on RCA in 1981.
After a failed attempt to start another band with Lee, Paul Butler retired from the music business in 1982. In 2009, he bought himself a new acoustic guitar, and by 2010, some of his home recordings were being regularly played on independent radio stations, one even topping a listener popularity chart on 4 occasions. In 2010, some of these tracks were released in downloadable format as “21C Blue –the EP”. However, it wasn’t until July 2012 that the planned studio recording could begin. “Days will come” was the end result, released in February, 2013. A second solo album, "Cities made of gold" , was released in February, 2015. A third solo album, "Refugee", is awaiting completion.
Photograph by Dave Gould