Jerry Butler and Curtis Mayfield sang together in a church choir in Chicago in the mid-fifties. They joined a group called the Roosters that moved to Chicago from Tennessee and the group eventually changed its name to the Impressions. Jerry co-wrote For Your Precious Love with members Arthur and Richard Brooks and the group recorded the single in 1958. The record reached #11 on the Hot 100 and #3 on the R&B charts that year. The single was credited to Jerry Butler and the Impressions and became one of the most popular recordings of the rock era.
The group released Come Back My Love later that year with the single credited to the Impressions Featuring Jerry Butler. That single barely reached the top thirty of the R&B chart and failed to chart at all on the Hot 100. After that, Jerry decided to leave the Impressions and start his own solo career. Curtis left with him and co-wrote and played guitar on He Will Break Your Heart but returned to the Impressions shortly after that.
WDAS Philadelphia disc jockey Georgie Woods coined the nickname “Iceman” for Jerry in 1959 at a performance in Philidelphia. Jerry continued to write hit records and record successful singles through most of the sixties but hit a dry spell after recording the hit duet Let It Be Me with Betty Everett in 1964.
Mr. Dream Merchant was released in 1967 and began Jerry’s comeback. The record only reached #38 but was his first record on the Hot 100 in over two years.
His next albums were The Iceman Cometh in 1968 and Ice On Ice in 1969. The first album generated four top forty hits on the Hot 100 and four top ten records on the R&B chart while the second album added two similar hits to each chart. In the following decade, seventeen more records reached the top forty on the R&B charts but only one of those records reached the top forty on the Hot 100. By 1979 the hits stopped coming.
Jerry became involved in politics in an effort to improve life in Chicago and spent over thirty years as a Cook County Board Commissioner before retiring in 2018.
Jerry and other members of the Impressions were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1991. He still lives in Chicago.