Ian Donnis remembers Mr. Butch

Mr. Butch had tapped into some secret that most of us didn’t know about.


The Worcester native once told me he left his hometown because the women there were too repressed. He was a mostly happily irreverent guy who delighted in the constancy of beer and cute BU girls in his favored haunt of greater Kenmore Square during the early ’80s. With his electric guitar, imposing stature, wild dreadlocks, and disdain for material want, he was street royalty and sidewalk philosopher-king ? something like Boston’s version of Paul Bunyan ? encountering the ire of the BU police and emerging triumphant even then from a brief exile in Allston.


To me, he was inspiration. As I told a writer a few years ago for the Comment, a BU publication, “[He’s] intriguing because he is so Thoreau-like. He transcends the adversity of life on the streets.”


The article went on to note, “But Mr. Butch is a muse less for any inspiring qualities he may possess than for the sheer force of his personality.” The writer, Kenneth St. Onge, quoted me: “One time, I saw him on Commonwealth Avenue. When I asked him what he was doing he said ‘Hey! Want a fish head?’ and pulled a fish head out of his pocket. It’s that mixture of joie de vivre with a little bit of a scurrilous salty quality that makes him a robust character.”


We’re all the poorer for the death of Mr. Butch; he reflected that vital quality that enables people to survive and even thrive in the face of all the little slights and mendacity and madness that the world can offer. And though his death is indeed a sad occasion, there was something fitting about it ? coming as he madly hurtled through the streets of Boston.
?Ian Donnis


SLIDESHOW: Mr Butch through the years

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