5 Minutes with Doncaster's Ricky Butler
For 50 years, Askern's Ricky Butler has rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous, using his versatility to forge careers in music, film and television, and promotion, while helping to raise thousands of pounds for charities.
A father of four, he has been married to wife Maria for 30 years, and credits her for keeping his long time condition of sugar diabetes stable.
His amazing career was cut short a few years ago when a car crash left him with multiple injuries, and the need for a pacemaker.
Now forced to take life at a slower pace, Ricky looks back at his “working life well lived”:
“In the early seventies I launched myself as Ricky Stardust, DJ and entertainer, and was one of the first DJs working the night clubs of Yorkshire and Lancashire, then Spain and the south of France, touring with the Sweet, Mud, the Glitter Band, Billy Fury, Freddie and the Dreamers, Black Lace and many more,” he recalls.
“I became a friend of Bob Monkhouse and his wife Jackie...in fact Bob wrote to the Doncaster Free Press on my behalf.
“I was working with big names in entertainment, Ken Dodd, Lulu, Cilla Black, and Chris Quinten who was in Coronation Street then.
“In 1974 I was a regular visitor to Elland Road, when Manny Cussins was still chairman, and I become friends with Jack Charlton before he left, Billy Bremner, Peter Lorimer and the rest...
“I had a nightclub of my own in Wakefield in the 1980s, called the Celebrity Bar. We put on a celebrity DJ each month. This is how I got to be a great friend of ‘Diddy’ David Hamilton, who became a regular here in Yorkshire.”
He continued: “David put me in touch with Bruno Brookes, the BBC Radio One DJ who had just started his own radio station in Newbury, Berkshire. I went there for a while, but I was making more money in Yorkshire. Then I sold my share of my club and the new owners asked if I would stay on as DJ. One was the daughter of Charlie Williams, and he was at the bar most nights. That was 1982, because it’s when I bought my first Rolls Royce.
“I’m not trying to build myself up but I was in demand. I ended up at Wakefield Theatre Club, where I met Olivia Newton-John, and her boyfriend, Bruce Welch from the Shadows,
“Sandra Stevens was resident singer at the club. She became one of the group “Brotherhood of Man” who sang ‘Kisses For Me’.
“My old friend Vince Hill was a regular too. I hadn’t spoken to Vince for years until a couple of weeks ago when he was in Doncaster.
“I did a lot of work at Yorkshire Television in Leeds and met Jimmy Saville and Rolf Harris but I don’t like to talk about them any more, and the same goes for Gary Glitter. I did become good friends with Christa Ackroyd.
“Later, after time in Spain I was really tanned and did kissograms for a friend’s agency. One I did was for the late Marylyn Webb of YTV, and another for Judith Stamper of BBC’s Look North.
“My TV work kicked off in a drama called No Angels, about four nurses in a Leeds hospital. Then one thing just led to another....
“My wife and I moved to Askern in 1990, to a brand new bungalow down Moss Road. This put me in a good central position for work.
“In Askern I saw the potential of the Miners’ Welfare that has a massive concert room. We got permission from the committee to use the room if we tidied it up, so we did, and started to put on big names such as Bernard Manning, and the Drifters.
“Yes, I did bring the Drifters to Askern, not once but twice. One time was for the Askern Town Gala, then I started the boxing shows which proved popular. My brothers were professional boxers and my dad was good friends with Richard Dunne’s father in law. we keep in touch with Richard to this day.
“I also worked for the late Councillor John Hardy at his pub club the Selby Arms in Askern, for some years.
In 2013 I went to live and work in Dubai, and Muscat in Oman, but the car crash put an end to that. I was so badly injured.
“Sadly I have no pension or endowment policies, despite taking steps to set these up some time ago. In light of this, we have sold our bungalow and moved on.
“I enjoyed my life in entertainment, but it really is hard work..that’s when you can get it! I’ve worked with some of the biggest stars in the world. Some were absolutely great, and some so far up their own backsides it was unbelievable.
“I’ve never told and sold any story on any celebrity. I’m a born again Christian who’s had a great life, I’ve made a lot of money and lost even more!
“I love all my seven grandchildren. If you asked me for one last wish, it would be to see them all grow up.”