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Chester (Butch) Lester
Born:  September 10, 1944


About The Artist

Chester "Butch" Lester was a native of Mammoth, West Virginia whose family moved to Cross Lanes when he was six. In his youth, he listened to WTIP radio in Charleston where Sleepy Jeffers and the Davis Twins played live and Jeffers also did deejay work. It never occurred to young Butch that he would someday be performing with them. At age twelve, he saw Elvis on the Ed Sullivan Show and he was captivated by the new sounds. He soon found others who shared his interests.

Promo Ad - Murphy's Club - Butch Lester - Charleston, WV - 1967 Lester began his professional career as a featured vocalist on the Buddy Starcher Show at nineteen on morning daily WCHS-TV in Charleston. Starcher hired him and another younger vocalist Pudgie Parsons in order to attract a more youthful audience. In the time he spent with Buddy and his TV successor Sleepy Jeffers, Butch made his first recordings on the B.E.S. label (named from Starcher's initials). Of the three singles, one called "Rosie" became the best known and an example of pure rockabilly. The others were some mix of rockabilly and country, one a cover of the Dicky Lee hit "Patches."

Promo Ad - The Charleston Athletic Club - The Keys - Butch Lester, Ernie Dunlap, Emory Brown, Larry Fisher - Charleston, WV - 1970 After leaving WCHS-TV, Butch organized a group called The Keys which traveled through several states including another Starch alumnus Norman Chapman, and others such as Emory Brown, Larry Fisher and Ernie Dunlap. The Keys recorded a single on the Alta Label about 1970 and another as Butch Lester about 1972 on Arctic. About 1975, he relocated to Nashville where he did some performing but more song writing.

By 1979, he dropped his nickname and was thereafter known simply as Chester Lester. Signing on the Con Brio label, he scored a minor hit with "Mama Make Up My Room" which peaked at No. 54 in February 1979. Most of his numbers were recorded by others including Tammy Wynette, Conway Twitty, and Waylon Jennings among others. However, his biggest success was a number one hit for Razzy Bailey, "She Left Love all Over Me," which peaked in the last week of March 1982, Others who recorded Lester songs included Joe Stampley, Con Hunley, and such pop artists as Dean Martin and Bobby Vinton.

Butch had married Margaret Leadman at age eighteen and they became parents of a son and a daughter. As of 2008, the Lesters resided in Hendersonville, Tennessee. According to John S. Newbraugh who furnished much of the information herein, honors included election to "Art and Soul-West Virginians in Art" and the "Rockabilly Hall of Fame."

Credits & Sources

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Recordings (78rpm/45rpm)

 
Alta
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  145 A Lookin' Home
  145 B Love's Gonna Get You Anything
 
Arctic
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  444 A Hello Guitar
  444 B Brother Jesus
 
B.E.S.
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  86 A Rosie
  86 B I've Got to Get Over You
  89 A The Car and the Keys
  89 B Patches
  90 A Anytime But Now, Anyplace But Here
  90 B I'd Rather Fight Than Switch
 
ConBrio
Rec. No. Side Song Title
  148 A Mama, Make Up My Room
  148 B High On Love
  154 A If Only We Could
  154 B Woman From Kentucky


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