Mr. Butch, RIP
posted: July 12, 2007
How often do you stumble onto a catchphrase that stays with you for decades? That quote above is what the legendary Mr. Butch, of Kenmore Square in Boston, had scrawled on the back of his trenchcoat, which never left his back, whether it was 90 degrees or 20. When we’re stressed, or the jackals are closing in, my wife and I use this as our rallying cry.
Back in the mid to late 80’s I lived in Boston with my brother Kyle in what can only be called drunken squalor. Good times. I was a musician/artist and Kyle was a deadhead. Music and partying were the most important things in life. In the slipstream of that lifestyle came an odd assortment of characters, good and bad, and both.
One of them was Mr. Butch.
There was a legendary nightclub in Kenmore Square called the Rathskeller, or the Rat as we all called it. The owner/host was rumored to be a Satan worshipping Aleister Crowley devotee, and was in possession of only half of his tongue. The Police played there before they were big (the place held maybe 200 people, but thousands now claim to have been at that show), as well as any punk band from the 70’s through the early 90’s.
It’s the rare homeless person that anyone would actually look forward to seeing, but Mr. Butch was just that. Sure, he’d try to bum a few bucks off of you. But he’d also be the first to offer you a hit off his joint, a beer if he had more than one, or access to any illicit substance that was in his power to offer. Aside from all that he was a lot of fun to just stand around and bullshit with. He was an entertainer, whether with a guitar or just a story.
He was not a horrible guitar player, eschewing technique for heart. I could have learned from this. He fronted one or two nasty little punk bands, opening for a handful of national acts at the Channel and the Rat. I remember one time at a Motorhead show he was crowd surfing and got tossed up on stage and Lemmy did not give Mr. Butch the customary kick in the head. Respect. Word.
Now this is all gone. I’m no longer chasing the music and I live a healthy, clean lifestyle. The Deadheads have disbursed and god-fearing Kyle lives in Kentucky. The building that housed the Rat was leveled for a high falootin’ hotel. The Channel is gone. Mr Butch is dead from injuries received in a scooter accident.
My Boston was gone long ago.
Better to burn out than to fade away Brother! I’ll have one for my homie.