Jerry Butler’s “Only the Strong Survive: Memoirs of a Soul Survivor” not only presents an incisive portrait of a remarkable career, but an up close and personal look at the world of rhythm and blues from the perspective of an insider. Filled with intimate anecdotes about such R&B legends as Otis Redding, Curtis Mayfield, Patti LaBelle, Sam Cook, and Dionne Warwick, Butler’s compelling, sometimes hilarious, narrative is told against the backdrop of 1960s America.”Only the Strong Survive”, as told to Earl Smith, no doubt will be classified as autobiography. But it is more than that. It is history – to some, it’s oral history for the way Butler unfolds his narrative.
Drawing upon countless conversations and interviews with Butler and others, Smith chronicles the ‘Iceman’s’ journey from rural Mississippi to Chicago and the founding and eventual breakup of the legendary Impressions vocal group. Currently serving his fourth term as a commissioner on the Cook County Board of Commissioners, Butler also gives us a glimpse inside the world of Chicago politics. Butler shares stories about Harold Washington, Chicago’s first African-American mayor, and others, including Nation of Islam leader, Minister Louis Farrakhan. “Only the Strong Survive” is a riveting, moving chronicle of one of America’s music pioneers.