Jerry Butler from The Impressions Talks Ernie Busker’s Million Dollar Palms of Hallandale

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The Impressions early publicity photo with Jerry Butler (top left)

“When The Impressions played at the Million Dollar Palms in Hallandale I was 18 years old.

We had just left the Apollo in New York and played to a packed house. The people loved us and thought we were sensational, then, our next engagement was at the Palms, just over the line from Miami, in Hallandale, where the audience was used to seeing acts like James Brown and Hank Ballard, who were active and doing the splits and jumping all over, and then here we come with only two songs of our own and some others we plagiarized from the Coasters and others we’d been at the Apollo with, and we died…we stunk the place up, and it was an outdoor theater, so that was an accomplishment, hah, “Precious Love” was the only applause we got. That taught me a big lesson. We had to go back to the drawing board and do a show to go with the songs, but at that particular show it was….man, bad showing.

When we played The Apollo we had big signs that read Jerry Butler and The Impressions, but at The Palms, the marquee just said Jerry Butler, no Impressions at all, and that immediately rekindled the anger and animosity among the guys who thought I was trying to take over. It was a very interesting time, and my first time really in that part of South Florida.

I came to Tampa with Curtis Mayfield grandma’s church when I was 13, so this was my second time in Florida.

We was sposed to play 3 nights at The Palms. We played 2 nights For Ernie Busker, and then 1 in Jacksonville, and I think the promoter was glad to be able to sell it.

The record “For Your Precious Love” was already a hit there (Miami, South Florida), that’s why we got booked to go down there. I remember King Coleman and Butterball were big on the record because it was selling, and because the people loved it, and because they had a good relationship with Veejay Records. We just weren’t ready for that kind of venue. We had been working with 5 or 6 other acts, and at the Palms it was us and a comedian and we had to take up 45 minutes or an hour and then the same people stay for the second show so we played the same songs to the same audience over and over, and that’s hard to do.

Henry Stone was the Promoter for that concert, and he was the distributor for the record…you got the picture, he treated us very well.”

  • From an interview with Jerry Butler by Jake Katel

©Jake Katel. All Rights Reserved.

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