Bernard Butler

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For the Irish politician, see Bernard Butler (politician).
Bernard Butler
Bernand Butler live with The Tears (cropped).jpg
Butler performing live with The Tears at the 2005 Roskilde Festival
Background information
Birth name Bernard Joseph Butler
Born (1970-05-01) 1 May 1970 (age 44)
Stamford Hill, London, England
Genres Alternative rock, Britpop
Occupation(s) Songwriter, guitarist, record producer
Instruments Guitar, piano, vocals, bass
Years active 1989–present
Associated acts Suede, The Tears, McAlmont and Butler, Duffy, Trans, Ben Watt, The Verve
Notable instruments
Cherry red Gibson ES-355 TD SV (Stereo Varitone) with a Bigsby tailpiece
Gibson Les Paul
Fender Telecaster (Bigsby)
Vox AC-30 AMP

Bernard Joseph Butler (born 1 May 1970, Stamford Hill, North London) is an English musician and record producer. He first emerged as a key player in the early Britpop era and is best known as the first guitarist and primary songwriter with Suede until 1994. He has been hailed by some critics as the greatest guitarist of his generation,[1] as well as one of Britain's most original and influential guitarists.[2] He was voted the 24th greatest guitarist of the last 30 years in a national 2010 BBC poll[3] and is often seen performing with a 1961 cherry red Gibson ES-355 TD SV (Stereo Varitone) with a Bigsby vibrato tailpiece.



He first achieved fame in 1992 as the guitarist with Suede, forging a songwriting partnership with Brett Anderson. He co-wrote and played guitars on every recording until 1994,[citation needed] when he exited Suede, leaving behind the Mercury Music Prize-winning debut Suede, as well as the follow-up Dog Man Star.[citation needed]


After Suede, Butler did not form any notable act, preferring short-term collaborations, session work and one-off projects. Immediately after leaving Suede he formed the duo McAlmont and Butler with David McAlmont and they released two singles, "Yes" and "You Do". A compilation album, The Sound of McAlmont and Butler, was released after the collaboration ended.[citation needed]

Butler then released two solo albums under his own name, People Move On and Friends and Lovers, on Creation Records, yielding the hit single "Stay". In 2001 Butler teamed up with McAlmont for a second McAlmont and Butler album, Bring it Back, and they toured the UK after the release of two singles, "Falling" and "Bring it Back".[citation needed]

In 2004 Butler healed his rift with Anderson, forming a new band, The Tears, based on the same style that yelded their first successes with Suede in the early 1990s. The Tears released their debut LP, Here Come The Tears, produced by Butler, in June 2005. Singles include "Refugees", which reached number 9 in the UK Singles Chart,[4] and "Lovers".

Collaborations and production work[edit]

Butler has played on and/or produced records by[5] Aimee Mann, Edwyn Collins, Neneh Cherry, Tim Booth (of James), Eddi Reader, Hopper, Roy Orbison, Bert Jansch, The Libertines, Heather Nova, Mark Owen, The Veils, Sophie Ellis-Bextor, The Cribs, the Pretenders, The On-Off's, 1990s, The Mescalitas, Cut Off Your Hands, Cajun Dance Party, The View, Arkitekt, Sons and Daughters, Black Kids, Tricky, Sharleen Spiteri, Nerina Pallot and Natalie McCool.[citation needed]

In 2005 he was introduced to Welsh singer Duffy and contributed to her five million-selling debut album Rockferry, which was nominated for three Grammy Awards.[citation needed] Butler contributed the title track, as well as "Syrup & Honey", which was used in a worldwide Nivea advertisement campaign.[citation needed] He also produced "Please Stay" for "Telstar - The Movie" and co-wrote "Smoke Without Fire", which was used in the 2009 film An Education. They also produced a cover version of the Wings song "Live & Let Die" for the 2009 Warchild album at Paul McCartney's request.[citation needed] In 2009 Butler produced the music for the Diet Coke television advertisement that features Duffy, as well as a cover of "Stay With Me Baby" for the Richard Curtis film The Boat That Rocked.[citation needed] The pair continue to collaborate.[citation needed]

In 2009 Butler co-wrote/produced/played on tracks by The Veils, Tommy Reilly, Jonathan Jeremiah, Duffy, Kate Jackson and Catherine A.D.[6] He completed Kate Nash's second album My Best Friend Is You at his own "355" Studios.[citation needed]

In 2010 Butler worked with Nerina Pallot, Fyfe Dangerfield, Noisettes, Slow Club, Gabrielle, Howling Bells, The Veils, Simon Dine, and new artists Jodie Marie, Vince, Daley, Summer Camp, Joe Worricker and Scott McFarnon.[citation needed]

Over the 2011-2012 period, Butler produced albums for Frankie & The Heartstrings and continued working with Daley on his forthcoming Days & Nights album, the title track of which was co-written and produced by Butler. He also co-wrote and produced Texas's comeback album The Conversation. Butler again worked at Studio 355 for these recordings.[citation needed]

In 2013 Butler worked with the group Teleman, to finish their debut album; worked on songs with London group Flowers; and collaborated with Paloma Faith and Fyfe Dangerfield.[citation needed] In June 2013, he formed an impromptu improvisational performance at the Sunderland record store run by Frankie & The Heartstrings. Alongside members of Warm Digits, Field Music and 1990s, the impromptu group played a completely unrehearsed and improvised set.[citation needed]

In August 2013, Butler played two shows at The Slaughtered Lamb in London, UK, accompanying Ben Watt on electric guitar.[citation needed] Watt described the start of their musical relationship in 2014:

We ran into each other at a party a few years ago and just got chatting. I’d spent ten years in electronic music, running Buzzin’ Fly (his underground house and techno record label) and DJ-ing whilst Bernard had spent ten years as a producer and collaborator. We both wanted a change.[7]

In October 2013, new group Trans released the red EP, the first in a series of EPs for Rough Trade Records.[citation needed] Featuring tracks grown out of improvisational sessions that date back over a year, with Jackie McKeown, Paul Borchers and Igor Volk, the recordings were made at Studio 355. All sessions were improvised, recorded in their entirety and later edited with very few overdubs. To date, Trans have played a select number of shows, including an entirely improvised show at London's Shacklewell Arms venue, acting as carriers for former Can pioneer Damo Suzuki.[citation needed]

In February 2014, Butler played two lives shows with Watt at London's St Pancras Old Church, in the lead-up period to the release of Watt's solo album Hendra. Butler was also involved with the recording of the album, with Watt explaining that he knew that Butler would be the "perfect counterpoint to bring some darkness to the light." Hendra, Watt's first solo album since 1983, was released on 14 April 2014 and Butler joined Watt on an eight-show UK tour in support of the album,[8] including shows at the Nottingham venue "The Bodega", Hebden Bridge and Cambridge.[7][9]


Butler created the soundtrack to the 1997 film The James Gang and played on the soundtrack of Velvet Goldmine, alongside Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood of Radiohead.[citation needed]


Butler names former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr as his major inspiration. He started learning guitar playing after hearing Marr and was eventually able to play all Smiths songs by ear.[10]

Personal life[edit]

On 13 April 2014, Butler participated in the London Marathon to raise funds for children with cerebral palsy, described by Butler as one of the "worst starts in life". Butler explains:

The problem is it’s getting harder for families to get funding for therapy and children aren’t getting the specialist support they need. So I’m raising money for the charity’s treatment fund to make sure that children get seen as early as possible when it will have the greatest impact.[11]

On 18 April 2014, 61 donors had pledged £2,136.25 to Butler's campaign.[11]


Butler won the Producer's Award at the 2009 BRIT Awards,[2] Producer of the Year at the 2008 Music Managers Forum Awards, and was nominated for Best Producer at the 2009 Music Week Awards.




McAlmont and Butler[edit]

The Tears[edit]


  • 2013 - "Red" EP
  • 2014 - "Green" EP



  1. ^ "Bernard Butler biography". Allmusic
  2. ^ a b "The lowdown on Brits bright stars". BBC News. 18 February 2009
  3. ^ "The Axe Factor". BBC. Retrieved 26 June 2010.
  4. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 550. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b "Interview: Ben Watt on his album and tour with Bernard Butler". The Nottingham Post. 17 April 2014. Retrieved 18 April 2014. 
  8. ^ Laurie Tuffrey (19 February 2014). "WATCH: Ben Watt & Bernard Butler - Hendra". The Quietus. The Quietus. Retrieved 18 April 2014. 
  9. ^ "4:54 PM". Ben Watt on Twitter. Twitter. 19 April 2014. Retrieved 19 April 2014. 
  10. ^ "Return of the axe". The Guardian. 25 August 2006
  11. ^ a b "bernard butler's fundraising page". Virgin Money Giving. Virgin Money. 18 April 2014. Retrieved 18 April 2014. 

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