Steve Alaimo Talks Milton “Butterball” Smith: “Martin Luther King Jr and Butterball Were Very Close”

Three icons from Henry Stone's labels, Latimore, Steve Alaimo and Willy Clarke

Latimore and Steve Alaimo

“Martin Luther King used to come down all the time and hang out with Butterball. Butterball and he were very close. They were real good buddies, him and Docta King.

I met Dr. Martin Luther King jr., yeah. I met him with Butterball. Butterball had an apartment at the Sir John Hotel, cause he used to drink and carry on, and didn’t wanna have to drive all the way home. He had a weird situation, and I think it was just the hangout yknow, and Dr King was there. He was a terrific man. Nothin like you would have pictured to be, just a regular guy yknow.

And Butterball,,,he could be around all the presidents that were ever presidents and he’d feel very comfortable. He was not intimidated by anybody.

Butterball was jovial with everybody. I mean. He’d get on the phone with Clive Davis, cause he was a promotion man with TK when we started TK. He was off the air. He was part of the family. He got a call from Clive Davis one day saying, “So you’re a promotion man?” He couldn’t figure out how we were getting all these records played. So he had this other guy from CBS call up cause he was black to ask him how he was gettin all these records played. So he’s on the phone with Clive Davis and he said “Payola.”

Funny son of a bitch, boy. And he had two sons Marcus and Milton who were great young men.

Milton “Butterball” Smith. Love that guy.”


  • From a 2011 interview with Steve Alaimo by Jacob Katel

©Jacob Katel. All Rights Reserved.


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