Butterfly singer Shifty Shellshock dies, aged 49

By Mark SavageMusic Correspondent

Getty Images Shifty ShellshockGetty Images

The singer and rapper was best known for the hit single Butterfly

Shifty Shellshock, the frontman of rap-rock band Crazy Town, has died aged 49.

The musician was best known for the 2001 single Butterfly, which was a US number one hit, and reached number three in the UK.

Born Seth Binzer, he founded Crazy Town in 1995, and later enjoyed success with DJ Paul Oakenfold on the club track Starry Eyed Surprise.

However, he struggled with addiction throughout his life, addressing his condition on reality shows such as Celebrity Rehab and its follow-up, Sober House.

He was found dead at his home in Los Angeles on Monday 24 June. A cause of death has not yet been disclosed.

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Born in 1974, Binzer grew up around the music business.

His father Rollin Binzer directed the 1973 concert film Ladies And Gentlemen: The Rolling Stones and designed album covers for Chess Records; while his mother, Leslie Brooks, was a model.

He was inspired to make rap music after discovering the Beastie Boys’ Licensed to Ill album, and formed Crazy Town after meeting Bret “Epic” Mazur at a recording session in the early 1990s.

Envisioned as a hip-hop group with a full instrumental backing band, they did not get off to a flying start.

The first two singles from their debut album The Gift Of The Game failed to chart, and the group withdrew from the Ozzfest festival in 2000, after Binzer was arrested for throwing a chair out of a window while drunk.

However, the album also contained Butterfly – a laid-back love song, that sampled a riff from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers’ instrumental, Pretty Little Ditty.

Released in 2001, it became an instant hit, thanks largely to Binzer’s indelibly catchy chorus: “Come my lady / Come, come my lady / You’re my butterfly / Sugar, baby“.

‘Female friendly rap’

He said the song was written as an counterpoint to the more chauvinistic lyrics he’d produced previously.

“We were writing songs like Lollipop Porn when there was no girlfriend, and all of a sudden I was in this relationship,” he recalled in Fred Bronson’s Billboard Book Of Number One Hits.

“I was in love, and she was asking, ‘What’s up with all these lyrics? Is this what you’re like?’

“So that made me come up with the concept of writing a song to her. Instead of writing a male chauvinistic song, I was going to write something sweet and nice to a girl I cared about.”

However, the band were wary about releasing the track as a single, as they worried it would come to define them.

“A song like Butterfly is a no-brainer,” Binzer said. “Everyone seems to love that [one], no matter how hard they are.

“It’s very radio friendly, the female audience loves it and at the same time I think we kept our integrity with it.”

His prediction turned out to be correct. Crazy Town failed to match the success of their biggest hit. The next single, Revolving Door, stalled at number 23 in the UK, after which they never troubled the charts again.

Getty Images Crazy Town in concertGetty Images

Crazy Town continued to play shows as recently as May 2024

Crazy Town split up in 2002 after disappointing sales for their second album, Darkhorse.

Binzer then pursued a solo career, releasing a solo album, Happy Love Sick, which found moderate success in Europe.

During this period, he also released Starry Eyed Surprise, which reached number six in the UK.

He reunited with Mazur for one more Crazy Town album, The Brimstone Sluggers, in August 2015 before Mazur left for good, and Binzer rebranded the band as Crazy Town X.

The musician was open about his drug and alcohol problems, and spoke about spending time in jail as a young man, following incidents including assault with a firearm, as well as selling drugs.

In 2012, he was arrested for domestic abuse and cocaine possession. In the same year, he was also taken to hospital after losing consciousness, and fell into a coma before recovering.

He was arrested for driving under the influence in 2022; and was thrown off a Nu Metal tour last year after a gig in South Carolina ended in a bloody on-camera fight with his bandmate, Bobby Reeves.

According to Stereogum, the pair later made up and Crazy Town played gigs with Binzer as recently as May 2024.

The musician is survived by his three children, Halo, Gage and Phoenix.

First appeared on www.bbc.com

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