At 70 years plus, Butts Giraud was about to get into a van and go to a gig with his band, the Real Deal.
He’d learned to play harmonica and now, not only was he a leading member of the band, but did the booking and had released an album, Silver Magic, drafting various accomplished musicians living on Vancouver Island and paying for it himself.
This is typical Butts Giraud or that’s the impression left by his autobiography, The Last Chapter. All his life he’s embraced the DIY philosophy. DIY: Do It Yourself.
No one else can help make a dream reality. Do it yourself.
Thus, he’s been a professional football player, an international wrestler, four time belly flop champion, orchestrator of towel power, founder of the Dog’s Ear T-Shirt company, a blues harmonica player, and, now, author.
He didn’t plan all these things. He saw an opportunity and made it happen.
All his young life he wanted to play football, so did the necessary schooling, attended the training camps and learned. Giraud was signed by B.C. Lions, traded to Winnipeg Blue Bombers and made his name as a reliable if not great athlete.
Recognizing his time was up in football, he became a wrestler for 11 years. Again, he wasn’t great but he was well traveled and earned a global reputation as a “villain.” Through his various teachers, Giraud learned the importance of image and entertainment. Was wrestling a show business sham? Talk to him and he’ll allude to it as such as if aware of the sport’s reputation as low-brow theatre, but his accounts of a few of his matches, including one in Irag seen by Saddam Hussein,  seem gruelingly real.
Giraud used what he’d learned from wrestling to become belly flop champion, originally a Vancouver promotion that became a worldwide media celebration.
He developed a network of connections and relationships that helped him found Dog’s Ear, of which he is still on the board of directors. He saw not only the opportunity Canucks coach, the late Roger Nielson, accidentally created by waving a white towel as an act of surrender during the 1982 play-offs, but what to do and how to do it. Giraud turned an isolated incident into a social phenomenon.
Giraud learned what it took to play blues harmonica and transformed himself from unskilled music wannabe to respected, if humble, musician. This transformation took six years but, at the end of that period, he was able to hookup with music director and multi instrumentalist, Andre Kauffman and tape maven Ron Obvious to make Silver Magic.
While this was going on, he was finishing The Last Chapter, which Giraud figures is the toughest thing he has done.
The album was released last summer while the book came out at the end of November.
Neither the album nor the book is great but they do underline the DIY ethic.
Silver Magic is an enjoyable 18 tracks of blues and pop standards in which Giraud acquits himself well.
The music industry, which has its own obstacles to overcome, wasn’t going to encourage him to make an album. Giraud had to do it himself – to assemble the many musicians, choose the songs, arrange to make the record with Obvious.
Similarly, only he knew what he had to include in The Last Chapter. The result is that both are very personal.
The book is more a memoir than a detailed biography. There is a feeling that there are stories Giraud just had to tell and he suggests there are a lot more. He pays tribute to those who helped him, influenced him, shaped his thinking. He doesn’t reveal his marriages, the founding of Dog’s Ear, his Christianity, and leaves other holes. It’s selective, in short, and there are a few mistakes, but you realize he’s lived a life that singles him out. Only he could know what matters.