From Annaliese Jakimides’ FaceBook post
Our beloved Henry transitioned on July 2, 2018. Peacefully, knowing deep unconditional love. Each one of us has a memory bank of “Henryisms,” a term Steve Bernstein coined to describe those quirky phrases Henry birthed from the belly-heart of each tune, spinning out into extended orchestrations. But the truth is, if we were/are truly present—and that is what Henry is hoping for all of us—there are multitudes of nonmusical Henryisms, memory banks rooted in a shared meal, a conversation, tender moments of deep exploration.
Henry was grateful for every moment, every experience, every person he encountered until his last slow, smooth breath. Yes, the world remembers him as music incarnate—and that is so—and much will be written about his musical genius, his New Orleanian heritage, those extraordinary, lightning-cracking fingers blurring across the keyboard, the way he plucked and shifted and slipped the notes into places they had not yet inhabited so they could create a sort of new world order. It’s how Henry saw everything/one—with this intense desire to bring you along for a deeper ride, if you were open and game for the adventure.
May each of you put on a little Henry Butler every day and dance until the world lightens and you can celebrate new beginnings with the warmth, humor, and intensity Henry brought to the living of every day. He wishes that you continue with your lives by being better to each other, both to the others you know and those you don’t. It is how we make this plane we inhabit what it is intended to be—safe and hospitable, joyous. That has been Henry’s mission.
He would want you to know that his last on-the-road gig was in May with his Jambalya Band—Bobby Bryan, Fred Cash, and Adrian Harpham—and that they are amazing musicians and amazing humans.
The son of Natlea Bell and George Butler, Henry was born in New Orleans September 21, 1948. Natlea raised a fiercely independent boy who could quest and explore, no matter the challenges on his path, each one, he saw, an opportunity to know himself more deeply. Henry adored his mom. He is survived by his love and longtime partner, Annaliese Jakimides, and a brother, George.