Thursday, January 14, 2010


Peter Butler once asked me what Beatles single I'd like best. I said 'Paperback Writer' coupled with 'Rain'. The 1980s re-release backside has moptops enclosed behind what looks like refugee cage in Patrick McGoohan - 'The Prisoner' episode. Or maybe they are looking in.

My exchange of correspondence with Peter Butler in Denmark began in early 1984 and ended just before he took his own life on May 24th 2004.

I have one fat off-red folder March 1984 - March 1986, one bulky off-green folder May 1990-December 1999, one slim yellow-manila folder January 2000-May 2004. Peter replaced his manual typewriter with an electric model in 1995. The font changes. I didn't keep everything and didn't keep copies of own responses which were generally handwritten.

Ever the skilled builder, Peter constructed a wooden gallows platform in the bedroom he shared with his wife Lisa, without any assistance from morbid internet sites. Peter abhorred computers and the internet - electronic soccer games really got his goat. Peter's self-exile had turned into a disturbing and disturbed psychogeographical state exile, which was terrifying to witness for his wife and young children as he began to grow a long beard. Final photographs of him from 2004 resemble Osama bin-Laden lookalike and I won't shame google-blog with any of the images.

Peter was promptly diagnosed with clinical depression and became erratic with prescribed medication. As difficult to negotiate way out of as prison in physical and political nation-, US line, or European Union member-states. He'd refused US working visa and maintenance employment solicited at Graceland for him by close US friend and Elvis contact Bill Burk, so Pete must have been in a very bad way.

I've kept most of Pete's letters (handwritten and typed), cuttings, photocopied pages from obscure US popular music zines he always enclosed in large mail-art envelopes with annotated cassettes of music compilations, including rare Presley recordings like hysterical laughing Elvis on take of 'Are You Lonesome Tonight'.

Pete believed he would one day sit at the right hand of the King. That's the King. Elvis Presley. Alongside John Ono Lennon, George Harrison and Billy Fury. In proximity of couple Holdsworthy cycle factory work colleagues, best mate Harry Sharp, and Blue Banton who died tragically young - and 'Busby's Babes' upstairs since 1958.

If that was Pete's final quest I hope it's true for him.

from beat generation ballads sequence.


The Shadow said...

Just read your blog. I too exchanged letters and tapes with Pete Butler thoughout the 1980s. I lost contact with him in the early '90s sometime when I moved back to the UK from Germany.
I believe I have many of his letters and artwork in the attick somewhere.
He waged a long war with the Pecretary of the Elvis Presley Fan Club over a good few years. only Pete could have managed it. I think any one else would have been sued!
Billy Fury, Beatles, Swinging Blue Jeans and Elvis.Oh! and Crystal Palace FC! I think of him everytime i see the football score and think "Pete 'll be pleased or Pete 'll be miffed!"
I have been searching for him online for a while and yours is the first hit that associates with him.
In my time I met a few other folks who knew Pete. I also met Lisa's sister and Bill Burk in Memphis as well as other folks he knew Jim Duncan and Julie Banhart. Petes antlers spread far and wide!
As I write I feel sick, numbed and shocked at the reason I didn't find him.2004 is such a long time ago.
I hope that Lisa and the children are fine and that Pete is finally at peace.
Dave Gargett

Michael Weller said...

Dave, some blog postings here on Pete will be edited for a hard copy printed book.

Is it okay to print your published 'Shadow' comment in book?

Thank you.

The Shadow said...

Hi Mike, sorry for the very late reply! Just saw your response!!! Please feel free to use my post however you wish. Please feel free to alter the predictive txt typos !!! Attic - attic
Secretary without the P
Still gutted :-(

Michael Weller said...

Dave, Beat generation Ballads was published by Veer Books in March 2011 listed as Veer Publication 033⅓.

Glad you've confirmed your consent although your comment was published with "Pecretary" kept in. Poet/editor Stephen Mooney liked the typo. I think Pete may also have approved of the Secretary's mistitle!

I will try and obtain (belated) complimentary copy of BgB for you.