b. 26 March 1942, Pensacola, Florida, USA. Butler had something of an unusual start to his musical career; a child prodigy pianist, he played guest piano with the Harry James orchestra at six, sang with Red Foley at 10, hosted his own radio show and co-hosted a television show at 12 and at 13, he won a five-state major talent competition in classical music. He played with local Florida groups but at the suggestion of Buddy Killen of Tree Publishing, Butler moved to Nashville, in 1963, where he easily found work as a studio pianist. In the late 60s, for a time he was a member of the Memphis rock band the Gentrys, and also co-wrote ‘Lullaby Of Love’, a pop hit for the Poppies. United Artists Records signed him to a solo contract but he also became pianist and music director for Bobby Goldsboro, playing on Goldsboro’s 1968 hit ‘Honey’. He became a producer for Capitol Records in 1969, soon gaining success when the very first single he worked on, Jean Shepard’s ‘Seven Lonely Days’, became a number 18. Billy Sherrill persuaded him to move to Columbia Records, which led to him not only producing Johnny Cash’s recordings but also playing piano and becoming musical director for the singer. After working for United Artists in the early 70s, he formed his own production company and was soon producing a series of hit recordings for several singers, including ‘Blanket On The Ground’ (Billie Jo Spears), ‘It’s Hard To Be Humble’ (Mac Davis) and ‘Some Days Are Diamonds’ (John Denver). However, it was really his work with Kenny Rogers for which he will be best remembered, with songs such as ‘Lucille’, ‘She Believes In Me’, ‘Coward Of The County’ and ‘The Gambler’, as well as Rogers’ duet hits ‘Every Time Two Fools Collide’ (with Dottie West) and ‘Don’t Fall In Love With A Dreamer’ (Kim Carnes).
Apart from his production work, Butler is a very successful songwriter; he wrote ‘(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song’ (B.J. Thomas) and ‘Wonder What You’ll Do When I’m Gone’ (Waylon Jennings), and co-wrote such hits as ‘Only The Strong Survive’ (Tammy Wynette) and ‘Standing Tall’ (Billie Jo Spears). In 1984, he formed the Larry Butler Music group, which employed top writers and produced numerous hit songs, including number 1s with ‘The Chair’ and ‘Ocean Front Property’ for George Strait and ‘Set ’Em Up Joe’, a tribute to Ernest Tubb, popularized by Vern Gosdin. He later sold the company to Frank Dileo. In the 90s Butler joined forces with JRS Records of Los Angeles. In the new millennium he lives in Florida and works in an advisory capacity for aspiring country music performers and continues to produce new talent.