The professional career of this pianist and prolific recording artist began when he wandered into the publishing offices of then-successful recording artist and composer Clarence Williams with hopes of selling and song or two. It was the mid-'30s, and whatever songs Erskine Butterfield had on tap at that time have been forgotten, since Williams wasn't ready to publish them. Williams did recognize the man's musical potential , however, hiring Butterfield right then and there as a pianist, and according to legend teaching him to play the blues. That Butterfield might have been lacking in that musical department makes sense in the perspective of his entire career. While some of his eventual hit recordings came out of the boogie-woogie camp, Butterfield continually attempted to come up with something more sophisticated, adding aspects of classical and jazz to his creations. He can be credited with helping to invent the style of "cocktail piano", but it was a notion that the public did not embrace at first in the early days of rock & roll. Thus, the recording companies he was involved with eventually left him by the wayside, one of many talented players who were sidetracked by the rock avalanche.