Fuller Up, The Dead Musician Directory
Lester Butler
May 10, 1998
Age 38
CD Review

Lester Butler kuollut
Raivoisan bluesin erikoismies, Red Devils ja 13-yhtyeiden
  nokkahahmo, Lester Butler on kuollut 9. toukokuuta
  mitä ilmeisimmin heroiinin yliannostukseen.
Finnish Music News Site
Additional note: Since I first put this page together, fans and people close to
Les, have been filling in the details of his death.  Read on:

  • 12-15-98 
    Note from visitor to this site: "...In fact 2 or 3 people (I think 1 guy  and 1 girl) were just sent to prison for their involvement in Lester's death. Seems after he od'd, they tried to revive him by injecting him with cocaine. This caused his heart to fail. The family just got done with the court trials.  One person got 3 years and the other something less. This comes from guys close to family, here in LA."~JPM
Your story is still off.  Les didn't overdose -- he was overdosed while unconscious and unable to help/defend himself.  Check the court records. 

While Les was at the house of Bill B. Friday night May 8 he was injected by a woman named April Ortega.  She gave him too much and it caused him to immediately pass out.  She and Bill got scared and threw him in an ice-bath but it didnt help.  Next her boyfriend Glenn Demidow arrived and they decided to inject Les with cocaine instead of getting him medical attention.  Nothing happened.  So they injected him again with more cocaine.  Nothing happened.  So they injected him AGAIN with even more cocaine.  What a surprise -- he wasn't reviving!!  

They still didn't get him medical help.  April and Glenn then drove him to his gig and left him in his van (unconscious) while they went in and listened to Lester's band (without Lester) telling people that HE had passed out and was sleeping it off.  Lester still hours later wasn't able to wake himself (would you with 5 doses of deadly drugs in your system?)  They still didn't get him medical help but instead took him to their apartment at 2am, they went to sleep, then the next night after he had died in their care dropped his dead body back at Bill B.s house.  

They were literally at the house 2 minutes just to dump the body and then drive away in Lester's van.  Lester's body was put in a guest bed to look as if he had died in his sleep.  Luckily a friend, J., stopped in and instantly saw that Lester was in bad shape and immediately took him to County USC where he was pronounced dead-on-arrival.   April and Glenn are serving 2 and 3 yr sentences -- Bill B. is free without being charged with aiding in covering up a murder!  Lester was pronounced dead Sunday May 10 -- Mother's Day. 

After receiving toxicology reports from the Coroner, the detectives picked April up as she walked out of a drug center w/Bill B. weeks after Lester's murder.  Glenn fled but finally turned himself in to his lawyer weeks after April's arrest (nice boyfriend, huh?)  

Bill was not arrested -- guess its ok to cover up a murder and harbor a dead body as long as you're not the one actually injecting the drugs.  April and Glenn were charged with 2nd degree murder.  After months and months of court dates, the D.A. offered April and Glenn a plea bargain down to Involuntary 
Manslaughter, against Lester's family's pleads.  Of course they plead guilty and accepted the plea bargain for sentences of 2 and 3 yrs only.   

Had they been convicted in front of a jury of 2nd degree murder, they would have been in jail 10 - 15 years.  Its ironic that they admitted to overdosing him with 5 lethal mixtures of heroin and cocaine causing his death but they only have to serve 2 - 3 yrs -- that's our criminal justice system -- not much of a deterrent.  April and Glenn should have been prosecuted for administering the drugs to an unwilling and unconscious victim, kidnapping him, murdering him, and stealing his van when all was over.  What a tragic loss of a truly talented individual! 
--sign me:  anonymous

 Note from visitor:
June 22, 1999 
I just read the obit on your website about Lester Butler.  He did not O.D. but was in fact murdered.  The two responsible for his death are currently in prison.  It would mean a lot to me and the rest of Lester's family if you would change O.D. to murdered.  

Thank you. 

Virginia Tura, Lester's Sister






  Lester Butler's 13 Featuring Lester Butler

Musical visionaries in their lifetime are often criticized for blasphemously blending musical styles. 
Such was the case with Lester Butler. His last album, 13, melded the roots of American music, blues 
and alternative rock. Yet Butler could also get down and blow some hardcore blues, backing 
luminaries Billy Boy Arnold, King Ernest and Finis Tasby.  

His first band, the Red Devils, received the attention of producer Rick Rubin (Red Hot Chili 
Peppers, Mick Jagger, Tom Petty) while playing their favorite haunt, the King King. With Rubin, 
they released their only album, which was named after that haunt. Their sound attracted the likes of 
Jagger, who took them into the studio, but the tracks were never used for Jagger's album 
Wandering Spirit.  

Alex Schultz, fresh from Rod Piazza and the Mighty Flyers, teamed with Butler to form 13. Though 
abhorred by blues purists, the group broke ground, especially in Europe where they drew high praise 
from rock bands, who in turn gave 13 opening slots for their shows. 13 was a step away from 
stardom when Butler died unexpectedly at age 38. -- Char Ham, All-Music Guide 

    13 featuring Lester Butler

                                            Lester Butler - Vocals, harmonica 
                                            Alex Schultz - Guitar 
                                            James Intveld - Drums 
                                            Mark Goldberg - Bass 

                 "Music is a hypnotic thing--it kind of puts you in this state and it just comes out," confesses 
                 lead singer/harp man extraordinaire Lester Butler of Los Angeles-based 13, in attempting to 
                 describe the creative process that fuels the visceral, edgy sound of the band and its self-titled 
                 debut on HighTone Records. For the brand of blues that Lester and his mates are creating is 
                 not that by-the-book, note-for-note recreations of the usual cast of characters; but rather a 
                 living, breathing force of energy that effectively captures both the spirit and intent of what 
                 makes this music so special. And that's the only way Butler knows how to do it.  

                 It's also the only way Butler did it back when he fronted The Red Devils, a white-hot blues 
                 machine that tore up the L.A. club scene in the early 1990's, and then - thanks to their Rick 
                 Rubin-produced Def American live album, King King - proceeded to do the same to the rest 
                 of the country on their endless touring schedule. In addition to their own CD, The Red Devils 
                 recorded albums backing up Mick Jagger and Johnny Cash, both of which are presently 
                 locked up in tape vaults somewhere.  

                 Originally from Virginia, Lester Butler has been playing since the age of six, when he got his 
                 first harmonica - a plastic one - and then heard the sound of blues music around his house. 
                 After moving to Los Angeles, he became infatuated with the blues, listening especially to Little 
                 Walter, Howlin' Wolf, Dr. Ross and Papa Lightfoot, all of whom influenced his harmonica 

                 In the other members of 13, which formed in early 1996, Butler has found the perfect 
                 complement to his vision of how the music should sound. Guitarist Alex Schultz is well-known 
                 in blues circles as both a highly-creative guitarist as well as a master of tone. Most-recently, 
                 Alex spent several years holding down the guitar slot for Rod Piazza and The Mighty Flyers. 
                 James Intveld is the musical equivalent of the MVP baseball utility player. An incredible guitar 
                 player in his own right with The Blasters, Rosie Flores and many others, James played bass on 
                 the band's album and has now switched to drums for the road gigs. The most-recent member is 
                 bassist Mark Goldberg, who's played with Screamin' Jay Hawkins and Canned Heat. For the 
                 album line up, Andy Kaulkin played keyboards and Steven Hodges played drums.  

                 The result of this collaboration is an album of boundless energy, which, while tipping its hat to 
                 the gritty Chicago blues masters, is powered by an over-the-top approach that is anything but 
                 laid back. "If you want to pay tribute to the innovators like Little Walter, you don't try to play 
                 just like them," says Butler, "because what made them innovators during their time was that 
                 they didn't try to copy somebody else - they just did it!"  

                 To that end, the band opted for a non-homogenized studio set-up, often recording the songs as 
                 a band ensemble with everyone playing together live in the room. Butler singles out "Sweet 
                 Tooth," "Close To You," "HNC" and "Pray For Me" as songs that especially benefited from 
                 this approach. "These are some of the real impassioned ones," he admits, adding that the whole 
                 experience was "cathartic" for him and credits "the healing force of the music."  

                 In addition to the original songs on 13 (all penned by Butler), the band puts its own stamp on 
                 Howlin' Wolf's "Smokestack Lightning" (complete with smashing bottles and a barking 
                 hellhound), Muddy Waters' "Close To You," Elmore James' "So Mean To Me," Dr. Ross' 
                 "Boogie Disease" and Big Joe Williams' "Baby Please Don't Go." But whether it's an original or 
                 a cover, this band plays with an intensity and an authenticity that makes the windows shake, the 
                 dancers quake and the spirit of the mojo alive in the `90's. It's a hypnotic thing, man!  

        (I'm looking for info on Butler.  Pony up if you have the news.)  Ed.