Larry Butler was a kind man. He was Pensacola’s music icon.
In 1975, he won a Grammy for co-writing the B.J. Thomas hit “(Hey, Won’t You Play Another) Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song.’’ Four years later he beat out Quincy Jones to win a second as Producer of the Year for his work with Kenny Rogers and Johnny Cash.
When Hurricane Ivan devastated this area, Larry called upon friends Kenny Rogers and Willie Nelson and produced three sold-out concerts to support rebuilding efforts.
But most of all, Larry Butler was a kind man. For 18 months, Larry and I worked together at News Radio 1620AM. We shared the same producer, Sena Maddison. Larry had the two hours before my “IN Your Head Radio” aired.
Larry was a master storyteller. On slow days, I would come in early and coax Larry into staying a few extra minutes so I could interview him about his friend Johnny Cash.
One of my favorites was about “the brick.” A historic Nashville hotel was torn down and Larry had gotten one of its bricks. Johnny borrowed Larry’s Cadillac and got so tired of this brick sliding all over the floor that he threw it out the window. When he learned how rare and important the brick was to Larry, Cash spent weeks searching for a replacement. Johnny never did get one, but he did find the Butler Brick Company and gave Larry a “Butler” brick.
I asked Larry about Joaquin Phoenix’s performance of Johnny Cash in the movie “Walk the Line.” Larry said that the actor did such a great job that he felt like Phoenix was channeling Cash. Then Larry leaned into me and whispered, “You know that big lake in the movie, the one that John’s house was on? There must be about 30 black phones at the bottom of it. Every time John got mad, he’d yank the phone off its cord and chuck it out into the lake.”
I also loved to hear Larry laugh. It started as a chuckle and his eyes lit up as he let out his great laugh.
Larry had several health issues. Once he had to wear an eye patch to the studio for a few days. I bought matching eye patches for Sena and me so we could all do the show from the same perspective. I still can hear his laugh from that day.
Larry Butler was a kind man. I will miss him, his stories … and his laugh.