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Ontario’s Country Music Pioneers: Colin Butler

// by Larry Delaney //

(#73 in the Ontario Country Music Pioneers Series)

COLIN BUTLER was billed as “Canada’s Young Singing Sensation” – an appropriate title, as, he began performing at age 3; was a special guest at concert and club events by age 5; and by the time he was 12 years of age, had already made guest appearances on The Tommy Hunter TV Show, Family Brown Country TV show, and recorded his first album before he became a teenager.

Colin Butler was born New Year’s Eve, 1960, in Lively, Ontario, and as a youngster he spent his early years in Ottawa, where his parents recognized his special talents to sing and entertain audiences. He quickly became a sought-after “child attraction”. He was soon featured as a “special guest” on some of country music’s top touring acts, including opening a show for Nashville star Carl Smith at the Central Canada Exhibition in Ottawa.

Colin Butler was first heard on disc with the 1970 single, “Crash The Grand Ole Opry”, released on the Canadian indie label, Major Records. The flip-side of the record was a version of The Rovers novelty hit, “The Unicorn”.

In 1971, Colin Butler released his debut album, not surprisingly entitled, “Canada’s Young Singing Sensation”, on Marathon Records. The album also gave a hint of some talent as a songwriter, with the inclusion of “The Pepe Song”, a song Colin Butler wrote about his pet dog. The first single, “Let Me In”, the lead track from the album, received radio airplay but failed to chart nationally. A 1973 follow-up album, “Just Bidin’ My Time”, was also released on the Marathon label and was again treated by radio programmers as a “novelty” outing by a teenager. It attracted limited radio airplay, as did the “Colin Butler Christmas” album, also released that year.

Colin Butler’s acceptance as a country singer took on a much stronger meaning with the 1977 release of his self-titled album produced by Larry Lee (Coad) and recorded in Nashville studios for the Condor Records label. Colin had already charted with the 1976 single, “California Dream”, released on Skyline Records, which became a Top 10 hit in Canada. The album then yielded a follow-up single, “San Francisco Summer”, which earned Top 40 chart status.

After several years out of the spotlight, Colin Butler re-surfaced in the mid-1980s. Again under the production guidance of Larry Coad, Colin released a series of singles – the first coming on Shotgun Records with the song “How Many More Miracles”. It was followed by several singles on Coad’s own Burco Records label, with the Larry Coad-penned songs “Gypsy Wind”, “Dandy Lyin'”, “When She Needed Love”, and “How’d We Let It Get So Far”. The material was featured on Colin Butler’s 1987 cassette album, “Gypsy Wind”.

Colin also returned to the performing stage during this time, as a member of the touring act Harold MacIntyre & Area Code 705, playing concert halls, festivals and club dates across the country.

In 2006, prior to Larry Coad’s untimely passing, Colin Butler would again be heard on record as the voice on a CD entitled “Rainbow Country”, featuring Coad’s tribute in songs reflecting his Metis heritage.

Colin Butler now makes his home in Elliot Lake, Ontario, and continues to be active with his music, making guest appearances for special occasion events.


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