Bob Carswell shares information and reminisces about Marty Butler (MCHS ’62)
Bob Carswell notes:
“While we forget the people behind the scene who gave the group like The Bells some of their best songs we tend to forget that without the songwriters and composers, such music would never have happened. Marty Butler’s connection to The Bells goes back to the days of the Raymart Trio in St. Laurent, Quebec and subsequently MCHS when he and Jacki Ralph were transferred there to complete their high school. Marty died twenty years ago but like Jacki, I also ran into him in Toronto along the way.”
Jaan Pill: Did you know Marty well?
Bob Carswell: We weren’t bosom buddies but we talked from time to time at school. Like many Montrealers, Marty moved to Toronto and from what he told me on one occasion, he was married, selling real estate in Mississauga and raising a family there. Over a year or two, I met Marty a number of times on Avenue Road while I was working in the area and we stopped and talked about the old days, what he was doing and how things were. This would have been in the mid-1980 when he was playing piano in the evenings at the Park Hotel. I liked Marty, he was always very respectful and very friendly. It was sad to hear he had passed on.
[End of comments from Bob Carswell]
Comments from Tim Hewlings (MCHS ’63) who notes:
After completing university in 1966, Marty joined the group The Sceptres, a band that included two other MCHS grads, Bill Ott and Tim Hewlings. Over the next three years, the band became one of Canada’s most successful harmony vocal acts. They toured all over Eastern Canada and the northern US.
The Sceptres had one #1 English Record in Eastern Canada “I Never Had A Love Like That”, and two top 30 Records: “Something’s Coming Along”, “Juicy Morning” in Eastern Canada with radio airplay across Canada. The Sceptres or “Les Sceptres” as they became known in Quebec also had chart success in Quebec with 2 French releases: “Moi, je pense toujours à toi” and “Enfin seul ensemble” – a cover of the Tommy James hit – I Think We’re Alone Now.
After the Sceptres broke up in 1969, Marty went on to a solo singing and songwriting career.
You can find The Sceptres at: http://www.thesceptres.ca/the-band.html
[End of comments from Tim Hewlings]
Marty Butler’s biography
Following details are from a range of online sources, with corrections courtesy of Tim Hewlings for which we owe many thanks.
During his career in music, after his years (1966 to 1969) with The Sceptres, Marty Butler struck out on his own with partner Bob Bilyk.
Soon the duo were writing songs for the likes of Trini Lopez, Ginette Reno, Tommy Hunter, and The Bells whose version of their song “Fly Little White Dove Fly” became a Canadian national hit.
Butler won $10,000 in the Hear Canada Singing contest for the tune “Can’t You Hear The Music” which soon led to a recording contract with Columbia Records. His home base was in Montreal but frequently worked in Toronto to be nearer Bilyk.
He went to WAM Records in the late ’70’s where he released several singles with arranger/producer Leon Aronson (also the label owner). By the 1980’s he’d moved onto RCA Records for his eponymous debut album in 1982.
Butler died February 10, 1995.
1971 To A Place Near The River (Columbia)
1972 All The Love In My Heart (Columbia)
1972 Can’t You Hear The Music (Columbia)
1973 We Gotta Make It Together (Columbia
1973 If You Wanna Go To New York City (Columbia)
1973 Once-Loved Woman, Once-Loved Man/Love Vibrations (Columbia)
1974 Fly Little White Dove, Fly (Columbia)
1978 Lie To Myself (WAM)
1979 Never Been In Love (WAM)
1980 Saving It Up (WAM)
1983 Take Another Look (RCA)
1972 We Gotta Make It Together (Columbia) ES-90092
1973 Love Vibrations (Columbia) ES-90158
1982 Mary Butler (RCA)
[End of excerpt from Jam.Canoe.Com website]
Profile from 1961-62 MCHS yearbook:
MARTIN BUTLER “Marty”
“When he’s good, he’s very good ; when he’s bad he’s caught.”
Marty wants to become a dentist. For anaesthesia he will sing to his victims, rather patients, in his golden voice. He’ll probably end up drilling sidewalks or filling potholes. Marty is a n extremely able choir conductor, and with this ability he led 1 1-F, the class that last year sang “Greensleeves ,” to victory in the grade eleven section of the Christmas choir competition. Marty is also a talented songster and we wish him success in “show biz “. By and large the man loves the world, the only people he doesn’t like are those who don’t appreciate his rendition of “God Save the Queen” in jazz. He was a member of the Social Committee from 60-62 and was also in the Ski Club.
[End of profile from 1961-62 MCHS yearbook]
Fly Little White Dove Fly
We owe thanks to Gina (Davis) Cayer, a member of the MCHS ’60s Reunion Event Committee, for sharing with us the following YouTube link:
Click here to access the lyrics to the song >
We Gotta Make It Together
We owe thanks to MCHS alumnus Peter Halliday for sharing the following YouTube link with us:
Marty Butler, teacher at Morison
Recent comments at the Malcolm Campbell High School Grads Facebook Page are of much interest. I did not know that Marty Butler taught at Morison School – possibly Grade 4, in the recollection of a former student. That is so interesting and enjoyable to know about.
I would suggest that if you are interested in reading the Facebook comments, it’s well worth your time to locate the MCHS Grads FB Page and join the page, if you are not already signed up. Sometimes I make it a point to quote from comments from that page and other MCHS FB pages, but currently I am short of time.
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Malcolm Campbell HS is everywhere I turn these days, Jaan! I’ve been researching Alfred Ramcharan, who turns out to have taught at MCHS… now I’ve been just digitising my old “The Bells” LP (Fly, Little White Dove, Fly) and checking out the songwriter credits – Marty Butler is credited with three of the songs on side one. The three tunes are “Fly, Little White Dove, Fly” (classic!), “Yesterday Will Never Come Again”, and “I’m Gonna Get Out”.
I found a newspaper article on Marty Butler, in the Brandon Sun, 15 Jan 1973:
Wonderful to read your comment, Ken!
Today I will post our email discussion, and your draft PDF file, concerning Alfred Ramcharan.
I am really pleased that the stories about MCHS (and other topics) are of value to so many people, who seek information about individuals and events of yesterday.
I’m reminded of an article I wrote for Cinema Canada, a Canadian film magazine, in the late 1970s. A researcher that I’ve been in touch with extensively in recent years, with regard to local history in South Etobicoke (which is extensively featured at my website) contacted me some time back. He was seeking information about a Toronto photographer of many years ago.
He found it a great coincidence that, in searching for such details, he learned of my Cinema Canada article (it’s available online), he realized I had written about the photographer, and for that reason got in touch with me – about a topic that had no relation to the local history topics that we had discussed earlier. I was able to point him toward some likely contacts, that could help him in his research.
The bottom line is that, with the work of many people, the Preserved Stories website has come to serve as a communications hub for many people, including those of us who have a connection, in one form or another, to Malcolm Campbell High School.
I’m really please how things have evolved, thanks to the contributions of many site visitors, since we first launched this site around 2012, after spending a lot of time working on the site’s page layout and navigation structure with the assistance of Walden Design in Toronto. The final launch was made with the assistance of Maestra Web Design in Mimico.
So many people (including site visitors) have worked together to develop this website in recent years. We owe thanks to every person who has helped to turn the site into a valuable community resource.
I knew Martin Butler from the age of six until his death. He lived up the street from me on 3rd Ave in Rosemount in Montreal. Another friend David McCormack, who lived across the lane from me on 2nd Ave also joined us in riding our bikes and basically just hanging out. He had a brother named Steven and his mothers’ name was Emma whom I believe was from the States while his Dad Cy worked for bathurst containers. I saw Marty less when he moved to Painters circle in St. Laurent. I do have a photo of the three of us in our thirties but can’t seem to post it in here. Should anyone wish it, I can e-mail it to you.
I lived at 6603 3rd Avenue in the ground level and Marty and his family lived upstairs. My mom and Emma were best friends, shared baby sitting each other’s kids so grew up with Marty until I was 8 and we moved to the Townships after my Dad passed away.The Butlers we’re very dear to our family, helping so much after my Dad died, Many times we could hear Emma chasing after Marty trying to discipline him . Emma and Cy moved to Kingston when he retired, where I live, and we kept in close touch . I took Emma to Toronto to see “Mart” as she called him, the few hours before he passed away. He knew both of us and thanked us for coming . We had a lovely visit in spite of his desperate circumstances, and driving home got a phone call that he had passed away . Such a sad day. The only remaining person in that family is his brother Steve who lives in Bolton Quebec , who also keeps in touch . Have some of Marty’s albums which I cherish
Wonderful to read your reminiscences Karen. Marty touched many lives. His memory remains with us.
Good to read your message Richard. It would be great to get a copy of the photo, which I will be pleased to post. A file size of about 1 or 2MB will work well. Please send it to me along with caption to email@example.com and I will post it.
I met Marty in the Fall of 1964 when he was my student teacher in Grade 6 at Parkdale School.
Marty and I became good friends and my now wife of 43 years loved going to the piano bar at the Ritz on Sherbrooke St. in Montreal in the evenings. Eventually he sang at our wedding in December of ’74.
Marty was kind, generous, funny and genuine! He left the world a better place and I wish my kids and grandkids could have met him.
Does anyone know if he left a family behind? I would love to encourage them , even though Marty passed away so long ago?
Many thanks for your special comments!
Wonderful to read your note about Marty!
I will check with Bob Carswell, to see what he knows, regarding whether Marty left a family behind.
[By way of an update, I’m pleased Bob Carswell has sent a message to you directly.]
I am Marty’s daughter Kimberly. I am 43 now and I have a sister, Andrea, who is 46. My dad passed away when I was 19. My parents were divorced when I was three. My mother is now remarried and we are all living in Georgia.
Marty was my teacher at Morrison School in grade 4. I just turned 58 years young and still remember Mister Butler playing his guitar for us. He was such a kind teacher and I remember looking forward to seeing him everyday. Its funny who leaves impressions in your life and today I am a President of a company. God bless your father and I just went to youtube to listen to his songs. I hope that he resting in peace. S.Z
Sorry for your loss. Marty and I were classmates at Nesbit School in Rosemount. Grade five or six I think. Years later when I was a teacher at Chateauguay high school we met again when Marty and his band played a school dance. About 1966. I’m sorry to hear of his passing.
I remember Marty conducting singing sessions when my Parkdale Grade 6 class spent a few days at a YMCA camp in the Laurentians (I believe June of 1972). We all belted out Fly Little White Dove Fly until we heard our echo across the lake and the song still brings back fantastic memories. I believe Mr. Pollock and Miss Martin were the other teachers who spearheaded the fundraising and trip. Thanks for the memories.
Really good to read stories about Marty from so many years ago connected to Parkdale and other schools – and about camps that students had the opportunity to attend. Music can have such a positive impact on our lives. Thanks for sharing.
I remember Michael Butler as a very good classmate, with never a boastful word about himself nor ever an unkind word about anyone.
I lived on Laval Rd., in my grandmother’s wartime house which wasn’t far from Michael’s home at Painter’s Circle.
As to Greensleeves, l gave these lyrics for the classic choir contest.
Fond memories. Great fun. In the school band l played trumpet with Ron Parsons & Leibman. I was chess club pres too.
Mr. Allen, home room teacher, was the coolest guy. I really miss the class of ’62.
I finally decided to retire last year at age 73, having owned my own sales agency.
Living happily in Summerland, BC where my grandkids are here in The Okanagan.
I must have drank half the wine grown here.
Gary Jackson, friend of Marty Butler.
Wonderful to read your message, Gary.
The Okanagan is a beautiful place. I lived in Toronto for many years. We are now moving to Stratford, Ontario.
I am Marty’s daughter. I just found this site while googling my father’s name. Thank you for putting this altogether. Feel free to reach out if you have any questions. It’s nice to read the lovely comments about my dad
It’s wonderful to read your message Kimberly. I’m really pleased that you came across this post. He touched the lives os so many people. I’ll let Bob Carswell know of your comment.
This is to Kimberley Butler,
I am so glad that you found the website that Jaan Pill has put together. I would like to communicate further with you as I have this desire to write a book about him and his musical career. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks very much,
I knew your dad in school and used to drop by a piano bar where he played at night. He was kind and talented.
I am an old friend of your Dad.
I sang with him at St. Laurent High back in the late 50’s and early 60s. We hung out quite a bit for those years attending parties. We lived down the Street on Filion Street.
I liked your Dad and have many fond memories.
Thanks for allowing me to connect.
All the best to you and your family.
I met Marty Butler in 1983 when he was performing at the Bellair Cafe in Toronto. I didn’t know that he got divorced. When I met him I thought he was still married. Does anyone know if he ever remarried?
I didn’t hear about his death until 1997 when I found an obituary in the Montreal Gazette.
I knew Marty very well in the 1980’s when he was living at the Palace Pier in Toronto and he was definitely not going to remarry. Such a nice guy, so talented
Marty Butler, who most of us remember from MCHS lived in the time when being gay was not acceptable in most situations. Highly respected for his musical talents, he follow the same route as many in the day and got married along the way, fathering two daughters, now living in Georgia where their mother resettled and remarried. I used to run into Marty on Avenue Road in Toronto on his way to his night gig as a pianist at a local hotel. Marty never did remarry as far as I know but unfortunately became a casualty of the AIDS problem that not uncommon among the gay community at the time. I grew up with learning disabilities, lost a kidney at age 16,and dealt with other genetic problems. Marty grew up with things he had no control over as well. We all live our own journeys, some short, some long, some painful, some with song….that is how I remember Marty Butler.
I knew Marty very well back in 1982. What an incredibly nice guy, always think of him fondly.