1001 South African Songs You Must Hear Before You Go Deaf

Just another music list

Please Stay – Jonathan Butler

Jonathan Butler with Little Ronnie Joyce

Jonathan Butler with Little Ronnie Joyce

Butler was a mere 13 years old (nearly 14) when his song ‘Please Stay’ entered the Springbok Top 20 and as you listen to it, you can hear that he is a youngster, but at the same time, there is a real maturity in his voice. He knew how to inject the right emotions into the song. Backed by a band that sounds a bit like it could have been the Invaders (and maybe was, I haven’t been able to find out who the muscians were) and having Clive Calder and Peter Vee producing, ‘Please Stay’ is a powerful soul ballad.

The song was written by Burt Bacharach and Bob Hilliard and was a number 14 hit in the US for The Drifters in 1961. That version is a bit of a doo-wop affair and one does get the impression listening to it that The Drifters are not as concerned if their woman went than Jonathan was. Their version feels a little glib about the issue when listened to next to Butler’s. With Butler, you get the impression that it will be the end of the world if she goes. Maybe it is because the Drifters were older when they sang the song and therefore further away from the angst of teenage love with all its ups and downs.

In the late 60’s and early 70’s South African soul music of this ilk was doing well with the likes of Una Valli, Peanut Butter Conspiracy and The Invaders and, although this song came towards the end of this era, it is a prime example of how good the local musicians could be at the style. ‘Please Stay’ deservedly made it to number 2 on the Springbok Charts and stayed in the top 20 for 13 weeks, during which run, Butler would celebrate his 14th birthday. Not bad for a lightie from Athlone in the Cape.

Where to find it:
Various Artists – The Best of SA Pop Volume 3 (1994) GSP, CDREDD 610


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