Producer and Songwriter Larry Butler Passes

Award-winning producer, songwriter, and musician Larry Butler passed away in his sleep yesterday (Jan. 19) at home in Pensacola, Florida. He was 69 years old.

The first and only Nashville producer to win the Grammy for Producer of the Year, Butler experienced his greatest successes as Kenny Rogers’ producer. Their collaboration resulted in landmark hits for Rogers, including “Lucille,” “She Believes In Me,” “The Gambler,” “Love Or Something Like It,” and “Coward of the County.”

Pensacola native Larry Lee Butler’s musical career began at age six when he joined the Harry James Orchestra. He moved to Nashville in 1963, after encouragement from publisher Buddy Killen.

He began landing session work, playing piano on hits like Conway Twitty’s “Hello Darlin” and Bobby Goldsboro’s “Honey.” His musical contributions also appear on cuts by Johnny Cash, Roger Miller, George Jones, Tammy Wynette, and many, many more.

In the late 1960s, Butler moved to Memphis and began working with songwriter Chips Moman in the group the Gentrys, who scored hits with “Keep On Dancin’” and “Every Day I Have To Cry Some.”

Butler later returned to Nashville and joined United Artists Records as head of the label’s Nashville office. Under his guidance, the label helped launch the successful careers of Kenny Rogers, Crystal Gayle, Dottie West and the Kendalls.

He won a Song of the Year Grammy for “(Hey Won’t You Play) Another Somebody Done Somebody Wrong Song,” another Chips Moman co-write that B.J. Thomas took to No. 1 in 1975. In 1979, Butler earned his Grammy for Producer of the Year. He launched a publishing company in 1984, signing writers Mickey Newbury, Dean Dillon and Julie Didier and landed the George Strait hits “The Chair” and “Ocean Front Property.” For his multitude of accomplishments, the University of West Florida awarded him with an Honorary Doctorate of Performing Arts.

He is survived by his wife Peggy Maultsby Butler, daughter Schanda Butler Olsson, grandson Justin, sister Alva Chop and numerous other extended family members and friends.

Memorial services will be held in Pensacola, Florida Tuesday, January 24 at 11:11 AM at Perdido Bay United Methodist Community Center. A celebration of Butler’s life will be held in Nashville at a later date.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent to Belmont University, Don Gant Scholarship, Office of Development, 1900 Belmont Ave., Nashville, TN 37212.

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