Tag Archives: 90s Blues

90s blues legends The Red Devils and Lester Butler

90s blues legends The Red Devils and Lester Butler

The Red Devils where a L.A. based blues band led by Harmonica player Lester Butler from 1988 to 1994. Butler was an excellent harmonica player in the style of Chicago Blues greats like Little Walter, Sonny Boy Williamson and Junior Wells. The Devils are exploding blues monster who made in their short existence a big mark on blues music around the world. Their album King King is what you could name a classic.

No other blues band made me so revive the music Howlin´ Wolf or Muddy Waters bands made once. It were the song ´She´s Dangerous´, ´Automatic, I´ve Been Wrong´ and so on, so on. The Red Devils make blues that stays close to the post-war basics. Beat, Groove, Harp and a gritty voice. You will find all these elements in their music, it may sound easy but it ain’t. It is blues magic.

Lester Butler on Little Walter

Butler was influenced by Little Walter since the tunes of Walter were stomped out of the amplifier at his home for the first time. He recalls: “You couldn’t hear if it was a harmonica or a Saxophone”. The Red Devils were also highly influenced by former revivalists Canned Heat and ZZ Top.

The Red Devils at the King King

During the late 80s the Red Devils became the Monday-evening house band of L.A. Club the King King. With their performances in the King King they soon drew the interest of Rick Rubin and George Drakoulias of Def American Recordings. Soon after they met, Rubin made it clear he would produce their first album, titled after the club that was like a living room to them. King King was recorded during several of their Monday evening performances in 1991.

THE RED DEVILS feat. LESTER BUTLER ~ devil woman

Break up of the Red Devils

Due to drug problems of Butler the Red Devils were disbanded by the end of 1994. After the Red Devils, Butler fronted the band 13. With 13 Lester made an also magical album called “13” on Hightone Records in 1997. Listen to it below.

Butler died of an overdose of heroin and cocaine on May 9, 1998, in Los Angeles at the age of 38. Two of his friends were convicted in his death of involuntary manslaughter.

Of all modern blues bands I consider the Red Devils as one of the best because how these guys could rock the stage with classic Chicago Blues was unique and maybe the last time you could see that kind of Blues on stage. Listen to some of their best songs throughout this article.

Find out more about the Red Devils at Nofightin´.

Feature picture credit: Original album cover of the Red Devils Album King King. Credits to Def American records or the graphic artist. The image is used for identification in the context of critical commentary of the work for which it serves as cover art.

Lester Butler on Little Walter

The Red Devils “She’s Dynamite” on MTV

The Red Devils 1993 Live at Pinkpop The Netherlands

The red devils – louisiana blues

Lester Butler & The Red Devils – Boogie Disease

Time to Cry – live at Pinkpop

Lester Butler 13 on Spotify

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