Only the Strong Survive: Memoirs of a Soul Survivor / Edition 1

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Overview

Jerry Butler's Only the Strong Survive presents a portrait of a remarkable performer, as well as an up-close and personal look at the world of rhythm-and-blues. Filled with intimate anecdotes about such R&B legends as Otis Redding, Curtis Mayfield, Patti LaBelle, Sam Cook, and Dionne Warwick, Butler's compelling, sometimes hilarious, narrative is told against the backdrop of 1960s America. Only the Strong Survive, as told to Earl Smith, is an autobiography; but more than that, it is history. Drawing on countless conversations and interviews with Butler and others, Smith chronicles the "Iceman's" journey from rural Mississippi to Chicago, and the founding and eventual breakup of the legendary Impressions vocal group.

Currently serving his fourth term on the Cook County Board of Commissioners, Butler also gives us a glimpse inside the world of Chicago politics. He shares stories of Harold Washington, Chicago's first African American mayor, and others, including Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan.

Only the Strong Survive is an entertaining, moving chronicle of one of America's music pioneers.

About the Author:
Earl Smith, a veteran journalist and Chicago resident, has worked for the Associated Press, Jet magazine, and the Chicago Defender. He is also the founder and editor of Today's Traveler magazine.

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Editorial Reviews

Choice
"Beginning as a member of the Impressions in Chicago in 1958, Butler (b. 1939) launched a vocal career that has lasted into the 21st century. This autobiography details his growing up in poverty and his initial musical successes and ends with his foray into politics with his election to the Cook County Board of Commissioners in 1985 and his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991. Along the way Butler supplies considerable information on various managers and recording companies, especially Vee Jay Records, Mercury Records, and later Motown. The author concentrates not on private lives but on musical careers—his own and those of numerous others, e.g., Curtis Mayfield, Little Willie John, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Patti LaBelle. His behind-the-scenes look at race relations within the music industry during the last half of the century supplements and chronologically expands Robert Pruter's discussion in Doowop: The Chicago Scene (CH, Nov'96) and Chicago Soul (CH, May'91). Selected illustrations, discography, brief notes, and bibliography are helpful. Highly recommended for academic and general readers alike with an interest in popular music. All levels." —R. D. Cohen, Indiana University Northwest, Choice, march 2001

— R. D. Cohen, Indiana University Northwest

Choice - R. D. Cohen

"Beginning as a member of the Impressions in Chicago in 1958, Butler (b. 1939) launched a vocal career that has lasted into the 21st century. This autobiography details his growing up in poverty and his initial musical successes and ends with his foray into politics with his election to the Cook County Board of Commissioners in 1985 and his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991. Along the way Butler supplies considerable information on various managers and recording companies, especially Vee Jay Records, Mercury Records, and later Motown. The author concentrates not on private lives but on musical careers—his own and those of numerous others, e.g., Curtis Mayfield, Little Willie John, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Patti LaBelle. His behind-the-scenes look at race relations within the music industry during the last half of the century supplements and chronologically expands Robert Pruter's discussion in Doowop: The Chicago Scene (CH, Nov'96) and Chicago Soul (CH, May'91). Selected illustrations, discography, brief notes, and bibliography are helpful. Highly recommended for academic and general readers alike with an interest in popular music. All levels." —R. D. Cohen, Indiana University Northwest, Choice, march 2001

Alex E. Halberstadt
Butler's recollections of the racially segregated ''chitlin circuit,'' the early days of the civil rights movement and fellow performers like Dinah Washington, Little Willie John and Dionne Warwick are fascinating and insightful. At its best, Only the Strong Survive makes one wish it came with a soundtrack.
New York Times Book Review
From the Publisher
"Beginning as a member of the Impressions in Chicago in 1958, Butler (b. 1939) launched a vocal career that has lasted into the 21st century. This autobiography details his growing up in poverty and his initial musical successes and ends with his foray into politics with his election to the Cook County Board of Commissioners in 1985 and his induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991. Along the way Butler supplies considerable information on various managers and recording companies, especially Vee Jay Records, Mercury Records, and later Motown. The author concentrates not on private lives but on musical careers—his own and those of numerous others, e.g., Curtis Mayfield, Little Willie John, Sam Cooke, Otis Redding, Patti LaBelle. His behind-the-scenes look at race relations within the music industry during the last half of the century supplements and chronologically expands Robert Pruter's discussion in Doowop: The Chicago Scene (CH, Nov'96) and Chicago Soul (CH, May'91). Selected illustrations, discography, brief notes, and bibliography are helpful. Highly recommended for academic and general readers alike with an interest in popular music. All levels." —R. D. Cohen, Indiana University Northwest, Choice, March 2001
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780253217042
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/2004
  • Series: Black Music and Expressive Culture Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

An award-winning performer, producer, and composer, and one of the architects of Rhythm-and-Blues, Jerry "The Iceman" Butler has enjoyed a musical career spanning more than 40 years that produced over 50 albums, numerous hit songs, and three Grammy Award nominations. Butler is now in his fifth term as a Cook County Commissioner in Chicago, Illinois.

Earl Smith, a veteran journalist and Chicago resident, has worked for the Associated Press, Jet magazine, and the Chicago Defender. He is also the founder and editor of Today’s Traveler magazine.

Indiana University Press

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Table of Contents

Contents
Acknowledgments
Introduction
Prologue

Part I: The Early Years
1. The Beginning
2. Starting Over
3. The Formative Years: Learning the Basics
4. Reality Sets In
Part II: The Vee Jay Years
5. What's in a Name?
6. Coming Apart
7. Picking Up the Pieces
8. Learning Experiences
9. Making My Mark
10. With a Little Help from My Friends
Part III: The Mercury Years
11. The Producers
12. A Changing World
13. Changing the World with a Song
Part IV: The Motown Years and Beyond
14. You've Got What It Takes
Part V: The Political Years
15. Summing Up

Epilogue
Sources
Bibliography
Discography
Index

Indiana University Press

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