Music journalists near and far are mourning yesterdays passing of Sam Butera, Louis Primas saxophonist sideman and praised secret weapon, who died in Las Vegas Sunrise Hospital from complications with pneumonia at age 81.
Keith Speras comprehensive Times-Picayune eulogy details Buteras early days in New Orleans Seventh Ward and, later, his gig backing exotic dancers on Bourbon Street as a 14-year-old human jukebox. Jerry Fink of the Las Vegas Sun relates several choice quotes from Gia Maione, Primas widow and co-vocalist, who stayed close to Butera and wife Vera since Primas death in 1978. (In an odd, sad twist, Maione tells of how Vera Butera is herself in recovery after being hit by a truck this week while visiting Sam in the hospital.) And in an affectionate remembrance, the Las Vegas Review-Journals Mike Weatherford writes, It's impossible to know how many people shook hands with Butera as he capped each set with his signature sign-off song, When the Saints Go Marchin In, leading his band on a snake dance around the cocktail tables with a beaming smile.
Butera retired in 2004, but members of his Wildest Band including singer/drummer Bob Ruggiero and original trumpeter Kevin Norton continued on, performing tributes to Prima and Butera on national and international tours. As of today, the bands itinerary reveals no upcoming dates.