The late Cheryl Dilcher left behind four albums, all of which have something to recommend them. Dilcher was an American singer/songwriter (from Pennsylvania) whose first album, the rather prosaically titled Special Songs (1971), was recorded in New York and issued on the Ampex label. It’s an acoustic folk/pop album, with a pre-fame Bette Midler featured prominently on backing vocals. Dilcher, who accompanies herself on guitar, wrote perky, thoughtful songs and gets more interesting in the next phase of her career – her two A&M albums, made after she and her producer, the renowned Jeff Barry, moved to Los Angeles. Butterfly contains two of her finest songs ‘High’ and ‘All Woman’; coquettish funk of the highest order. The only questionable part of the album is the rather twee ‘Rainbow Farm’. Melanie had a knack for writing kiddy-wink songs and somehow pulling them off. Dilcher less so. Dilcher’s final album, Blue Sailor, came out in the second half of the 1970s on the Butterfly label and in its musical cast was Al Kooper. Like Magic, it has a slightly harder rock character than Dilcher’s first two albums.

I wish I knew more about this quirky, intriguing performer. You can find bits and pieces online, and they’re worth reading, especially this one. And here’s an intelligent analysis of one of Dilcher’s finest songs, ‘It’s A Secret’ from the Magic album. Dilcher suffered from epilepsy and perhaps this explains not only her difficulties in breaking through to a national and international audience but also her very untimely, premature demise. Her albums seem to be a little more sought after than the average, with slightly higher prices for the first three than for the more easily acquired fourth.


  1. I started playing back up guitar for Cheryl in the early 70 and came to California and A&M with her. Jeff Barry wanted to co-write and produce her album. Herb and Gerry were very supportive of her and I think Jeff did a good job. Cheryl was being wooed by quite a few people who had their own agendas and for an Allentown girl, it was quite a bit do deal with. She was wonderful on stage. It was her element. She would walk on a stage and capture everyone’s attention with out trying. They hung on her vocals. There were lots of demons and lots of chaos. Those years were wonderful but fill of pitfalls. A huge talent passed without us ever really having the chance to enjoy all she had to offer. I saw her last about 10 years before she passed. I do mourn her loss.

    1. Hi John. Many thanks indeed for sharing your recollections of Cheryl. I can well imagine she was great on stage. There’s such a vibe from the music and those album covers. I love her work and it’s a shame there wasn’t more after Blue Sailor.

  2. It is a bummer I just stumble upon her Magic album and I like her songs. And started looking about Cheryl Dilcher
    I will be checking out the used album stores for her album, if I can.

    1. She’s good, isn’t she? All four albums are well worth getting. Most people rate Butterfly as the best, though some people are devotees of the first album, which is more folky and less elaborately produced than all the others.

  3. “High” are one of my long time favorites, it has an enormous drive and intense dynamic, sung by the remarkble Cheryl Dilcher.

    “High” was included in “Odessey” – a kind of demonstration album of Altec loadspeakers (dynamic ) abilities and good sound-recording. We played it over and over again for customers choosing loudspeakers and maybe building themselves of parts, in the shop I spent a “real-life-week” as many youngsters as part of school in Norway in the 1970’s.

    The web-pages written by Susan Hamburger are gone and are to be found as an archive without images here:

  4. I was wandering around a bit online this am and came across this site and postings regarding the most remarkable Cheryl Dilcher.

    Terrific site Charles.

    I knew Cheryl well and was the founder and President of the label (Butterfly Records…and, no, the label wasn’t named after her A&M release) that released her last album, “Blue Sailor.”

    Though Butterfly Records was in LA and new at the time, I’m from St. Louis and, of course, was a fan of powerhouse KSHE. Bob Burch, then head of programming, at first KSHE and then Century Broadcasting that owned KSHE, and I remain friends to this day.

    So, first, knew of Cheryl’s music from a distance. Was a fan. Big one. Virtuoso 12 string guitar and utterly unique vocals.

    When we started the label in ’76, we were looking for artists who had “made it” or “almost made it” and Cheryl was on that list. Had friends at A&M (execs Charlie Minor and Harold Childs) who still believed in her though they had not renewed her contract.

    In time, we signed her. From the date of signing until we went into the legendary Record Plant was a period of six months. John Stronach produced and engineered. Lowell George, Al Kooper sat in and many friends and associates of Butterfly’s (God bless you Jerry Berger and Norman Kunin) attended the sessions as well.

    After the album was done…

    In the early morning hours in the fall of ’77 all of us had trekked from LA to Long Beach to have dinner and then shoot the cover at the Queen Mary the next morning. We had a fun evening and up early before the sun at that legendary ship. Cheryl looked great. Photographer Buddy Rosenberg shot (he shot many of our covers) and art director Glenn Ross oversaw…

    We released the album during the holidays of ’77. Prior to starting Butterfly, I had come out of the promotion and marketing group at Casablanca (Neil Bogart was my boss) and was head of Midwest Promotion and we broke KISS out of Detroit (initially CKLW Radio). I say this not to impress but to underscore we had the experience to break an artist. Sadly, it didn’t work with Cheryl. KSHE, in particular, had the release in high rotation for a number of weeks with a muted response.

    Cheryl and I lost touch in subsequent years. I know she thought the label could have done a better job, but we worked at it and it never got traction. The remarkable Nancy Sain, Butterfly EVP, along with our marketing group, pushed hard. It was a 6 figure loss for an early-stage label.

    Warner Music (Rhino) bought the Butterfly catalogue in 1988 and Blue Sailor was included.

    “Ellie,” “Blue Sailor” and “Lovin’ Woman” are iconic.

    God bless you Cheryl. Rest in Peace…

    A.J. Cervantes, Jr. Miami. 2023

    1. Thank you so much for this fascinating information, AJ. It really helps to fill in some blanks about an artist for whom there’s little biographical information online. What a shame Blue Sailor wasn’t able to reach a bigger audience, despite all your efforts. And interesting to know that the catalogue is now owned by Warners. I imagine the two earlier albums are owned by Universal. But I’ve no idea what happened to the Ampex catalogue and who owns Cheryl’s first album. It would be great if a company of the calibre of, say, High Moon Records, could license all of them for a comprehensive anthology.

    2. I’m also from St. Louis and saw Cheryl at the ambassador theater in maybe 1973? I was working the concession stand for contemporary productions that night but was a fan beforehand. I introduced my now 40 year old son (who lives in LA and a musician) to her music (“High” and “Deep down inside “ my favorite) the last time I visited him and he loved her sound. For my birthday this month he sent me a promotional copy of Special Songs. I had never heard any of the songs on that album before…listening to it now and love it. She was an amazing talent who should have had more recognition!

    3. @ A. J. Cervantes, Jr. Wow that is some great information about Cheryl Dilcher. Thank you for telling us the story of the last album she recorded.

  5. Grew up in St Louis and was a huge KSHE fan. Unfortunately I was born a little late to have seen her in concert but became familiar with her music on the KSHE Classics show. High was my first introduction. The song absolutely blew me away, I had to hear more. I immediately went to Disc Connection and purchased Butterfly and Magic. Later I acquired Blue Sailor and Special Songs all on Vinyl. My turntable days are long gone but I have homemade versions of Butterfly and Magic on CD. I still listen to the Blue Sailor album on YouTube. What a phenomenal artist, what a shame more people are not aware of her amazing music. Thank you Ms Dilcher for your music and thanks to KSHE for introducing her to me

  6. I grew up in Allentown PA. I went to the same High School. I played in several local bands in those days.
    The mid to late 60’s. I saw Cheryl perform in the early days with her All Girl Trio.
    “I, She, and Me”. Lots of talent & potential even then! Cheryl had “That Thing” even then!
    Lots of Aura. At that time, seemingly quiet & reserved, she could turn heads easily.
    One of her group, Gina Ross, was married to Tom Ross from the Allentown group “The Schillings”.
    Some early photos of “I, She, and Me, buried deep in “The Schillings” Website.
    So sorry, that she passed way too early.

    1. Thanks so much for adding this recollection, Lynn. So interesting to hear more about Cheryl and the earlier part of her musical life. CD

  7. I worked hard to expose “Deep Down Inside” at KYMN in Northfield, MN. when new. (Northfield was /is under the Minneapolis/St. Paul umbrella). Subsequently, the “Magic” album became a rose within the weeds for me. Although I did not follow her career beyond the early 1970s, I’ve always respected her obvious talent and the producers at A&M. Sorry to hear of her passing.

    Curt Lundgren
    Minnetonka, MN.

    1. Thanks for your note, Curt. Good to know that someone wanted to push Deep Down Inside. If you haven’t gone beyond the A&M albums, then her final album, Blue Sailor, certainly has some good stuff on it (though I can understand why it’s perhaps not as widely sought as the earlier LPs).

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