Jon Butcher

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Jon Butcher
Jon Butcher.jpg
Background information
Birth name Jon A. Toombs
Born 1954/1955 (age 59–60)[1]
Origin Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Genres Rock, blues
Occupation(s) Musician, songwriter, record producer
Years active 1970s–present
Website Official website

Jon Butcher (born May 5, 1955)[1] is an American rock, blues songwriter, guitarist and freelance multimedia producer.

Early life[edit]

Jon A. Toombs, is the elder son of Joan Butts and John A Toombs Sr. He adopted his present last name and his first guitar at the age of six,[citation needed] probably inspired by Gene Autry, Roy Rogers and other singing cowboys seen in old movies. In 1967, Jon's stepfather William Butcher moved the family from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Clear Air Force Base, Clear, Alaska, for career opportunities. In 1969, Jon's family moved back to Pennsylvania where Jon and his younger brother Brian finished Secondary education at Conestoga High School. Jon then attended Grahm Junior College in Boston, Massachusetts for Broadcast Journalism and it was there that his professional music career began in earnest.

Influences[edit]

Many people have made comparisons between Jon Butcher and Jimi Hendrix particularly in the early stages of Jon's career. These comparisons were fueled by Butcher's onstage appearance and manerisms, patterned after Hendrix, and his choice for the band name Axis, which was an obvious reference to Hendrix legendary album Axis: Bold as Love. Butcher's stated influences are Richie Havens, John Lennon, Phil Lynott, Bob Dylan and Taj Mahal and today he maintains that the Hendrix comparisons are superficial and has been quoted as saying "Being black and playing a Stratocaster created certain inevitable comparisons, particularly in the early days".[citation needed]

Johanna Wild[edit]

During the middle to late 1970s, Jon Butcher toured the Northeast U.S. with the Boston-based band Johanna Wild. The band generated a large following during its tenure. Their early success was due to promotional practices such as self-promotion, self marketing and self-management. The most successful Johanna Wild lineup was: Jeff Linscott (guitar), Derek Blevins (drums), Troy Douglas Sutler III [bass], and Jon Butcher [guitar and vocals]. Their most popular song, "Suzanne" attained regular airplay at local radio stations such as WBCN. Johanna Wild's chemistry influenced much of the Boston music scene of the 1970s.[citation needed]

Jon Butcher Axis[edit]

Relentless touring and strong fan support for Johanna Wild afforded Jon Butcher quick media attention through the then blossoming cable TV networks MTV and radio medias, particularly the influential radio station WBCN in Boston, MA. With the radio promotion of supporters such as WBCN radio personalities Mark Parenteau, Oedipus and Carter Alan, Jon Butcher became a Boston music staple, and in late 1979 (opened for KISS as Jon Butcher Axis 10/23/1979 in Fort Worth, TX) he created Jon Butcher Axis with Sandy Higgins (guitar), Chris Martin (bass) and former Johanna Wild drummer Derek Blevins. Soon after, Higgins left to be the front man for Balloon, while Charlie Farren fronted the Mk3 lineup of The Joe Perry Project. After several other guitarists came and went, Axis became the power trio which Butcher had always envisioned. Jon Butcher Axis performed throughout New England including Uncle Sam's, the famous The Rathskeller, The Paradise Theater and many others. The timing and apparent surge in popularity afforded Jon Butcher Axis' next opportunity through Peter Wolf, lead singer of The J. Geils Band.

American Tour opening for The J. Geils Band[edit]

Jon Butcher Axis was invited to tour with Boston's already world famous J. Geils Band through Peter Wolf, for their 1982 Freeze Frame American tour, culminating in three sold out night shows at the Boston Garden. It was the experience of performing in the Freeze Frame tour that led to Jon Butcher Axis first international record deal with PolyGram Records. This began a recording and touring career which saw the release of 'The Jon Butcher Axis' and Stare at the Sun'. Both of the PolyGram records were produced by Pat Moran, also producer for Robert Plant, Edie Brickell and Lou Gramm.

1983[edit]

1983 saw the release of their first and self-titled album, 'The Jon Butcher Axis', featuring 'Life Takes A Life'. Other notable tracks included "Ocean in Motion" and "Walk Like This". This album reached No. 21 in the Billboard Pop Albums chart and Jon Butcher Axis' video "Life Takes a Life" became one of the first videos by a black artist to receive airtime on MTV. At that time, the only two black artists enjoying MTV coverage were The Jon Butcher Axis and Michael Jackson. The band's second album, Stare at the Sun (1984), reached No. 55 on the Billboard album chart. The result of these two albums' successes afforded further growing popularity for the band, which added the opportunity to tour with Rush ('Signals' tour '83),Def Leppard ('Pyromania' tour '83) and The Scorpions ('Hurricane' tour '84). among others.

1985–1986[edit]

In 1985, Jon Butcher Axis signed with Capitol Records and released Along the Axis. The track, "The Ritual", earned multiple writers in the band a Grammy Nomination for Best Rock Instrumental Performance. On that same album, singles and videos were released for the songs "The Sounds of Your Voice" and "Stop". "The Sounds of Your Voice" (written by band member Thom Gimbel) was the only single to hit the Billboard charts Hot 100 reaching No. 94. Quotes Jon, "The Capitol Records experience was a positive one. Jon Butcher Axis frequently toured major venues across the US during this period, opening for INXS and again with Rush".[citation needed]

1987–1989[edit]

The following releases, Wishes (1987) and Pictures from the Front (1989) were simply recorded under the Jon Butcher name. Wishes was Butcher's most successful album. Rumored to have achieved Gold Award status, there is no evidence of this on the RIAA database. MTV videos released from both of these records included "Holy War", "Goodbye Saving Grace" and "Wishes".

Barefoot Servants[edit]

Barefoot Servants line-up

In 1991, Jon Butcher Axis ended its run. Jon Butcher himself spent most of the 90's on various multimedia projects. In 1994, he formed Barefoot Servants which released their self-titled album on Epic Records. The band included Leland Sklar (bass), Ben Schultz (guitar) and Ray Brinker (drums). Their second record, Barefoot Servants 2 was released by Atom Records in August 2005. Drummer Ray Brinker was replaced by Londoner Neal Wilkinson.

Solo endeavors[edit]

In the mid 1990s, Butcher released two solo blues albums, Positively the Blues and Electric Factory, a title loosely derived from Jimi Hendrix's Electric Ladyland. In 1998, Razor & Tie released The Best of Jon Butcher – Dreamers Would Ride. In November 2000, Butcher released a CD exclusively through his web site A Long Way Home. A Stiff Little Breeze was released on Atom Records in 2001 and was Jon's first solo project with the independent label. This CD resurrected the Jon Butcher Axis name, and again the Hendrix reference. 2002 brought an additional Jon Butcher Axis release, An Ocean in Motion – Live in Boston 1984. Jon joined the Chris Pierce band in 2008 as guitarist and released a live CD Live at the Hotel Cafe. Jon is currently working on Chris' third studio release.

Video[edit]

Butcher's first DVD video release came in 2004. Live at the Casbah was filmed in December 1984 at The Casbah concert venue in Manchester, New Hampshire. It contains several never-released songs, and additional music from his first three Jon Butcher Axis releases.

Multimedia projects[edit]

In addition to touring all over the United States and other countries to support various incarnations of both Jon Butcher Axis and Barefoot Servants, Butcher created his own production company and state of the art recording studio "Electric Factory" located in the San Fernando Hills of California. In addition to providing music production services for recording artists, Butcher through his company "Electric Factory Music" spends a great amount of his time scoring music for television, film and computer gaming. Recent projects include music for the HBO series Deadwood and A&E's The Life and Times of Wild Bill Cody, The Hughleys (UPN), The Unit (CBS), Ugly Betty (ABC), Star Trek: The Next Generation (UPN), My Name Is Earl NBC, and Hendrix: The Movie (Wood Harris).

Discography[edit]

Albums[edit]

Year Album Tracks Credits Billboard Review
1983 Jon Butcher Axis
Label – Polydor
Producer – Pat Moran
1. "Life Takes a Life"
2. "It's Only Words"
3. "Ocean in Motion"
4. "Can't Be the Only Fool"
5. "Sentinel"
6. "New Man"
7. "Fairlight"
8. "Send One Care Of"
9. "Walk Like This"
10. "We Will Be as One"
Derek Blevins – Drums
Jon Butcher – Guitar, Vocals
Christopher Martin – Bass
Pat Moran – Producer, Engineer
91 [2]
1984 Stare at the Sun
Label – Polydor
Producer – Pat Moran
1. "Wind It Up"
2. "Victims"
3. "Dreams Fade Away"
4. "Stay Low"
5. "Can't Tell the Dancer from the Dance"
6. "Don't Say Goodnight"
7. "Walk on the Moon"
8. "Call to Arms"
9. "Eros Arriving"
10. "Breakout"
Derek Blevins – Drums
Jon Butcher – Guitar, Vocals
Christopher Martin – Bass
Pat Moran – Producer, Engineer
160
1985 Along the Axis
Label - Capitol
Producer - Spencer Proffer
1. "Stop!" (4:14)
2. "Electricity" (3:35)
3. "Sounds of Your Voice" (3:38)
4. "Only the Fox" (4:07)
5. "Along the Axis" (3:40)
6. "Two Hearts Running" (4:29)
7. "I've Got Money" (3:45)
8. "Between the Lines" (4:38)
9. "Carrie" (3:34)
10. "That's How Strong My Love Is" (3:29)
11. "The Ritual (Instrumental)" (3:11)
Randy Bishop - Vocals
Derek Blevins - Drums
Larry Brown - percussion
Jon Butcher - Guitar, Percussion, Arranger, Vocals, Vocals (Background)
Ava Cherry - Vocals
Thom Gimbel - Guitar, Arranger, Horn, Keyboards, Vocals, Vocals (Background), Maxtone
Hanspeter Huber - Engineer
Jimmy Johnson - Bass
Moneygrabbers - Vocals

Spencer Proffer - Arranger, Producer
69
1987 Wishes
Label - Capitol
Producer - Spencer Proffer
1. "Goodbye Saving Grace"
2. "Living for Tomorrow"
3. "Holy War"
4. "Wishes"
5. "Churinga [Instrumental]"
6. "Long Way Home"
7. "Show Me Some Emotion"
8. "Little Bit of Magic"
9. "Angel Dressed in Blue"
10. "Partners in Crime"
11. "Prisoners of the Silver Chain"
Derek Blevins - Percussion, Drums
Jon Butcher - Bass, Guitar, Percussion, Vocals
Thom Gimbel - Horn, Keyboards
Hanspeter Huber - Engineer
Rob Jefferies - Bass
Spencer Proffer - Producer
77 [3]
1989 Pictures from the Front
Label - Capitol
Producer - Glen Ballard
1. "I'm Only Dreaming"
2. "Might As Well Be Free"
3. "Live Or Die"
4. "99 (May Be All You Need)"
5. "Beating Drum"
6. "The Mission"
7. "Send Me Somebody"
8. "Division Street"
9. "Come And Get It"
10. "Waiting For A Miracle"
Glen Ballard - Keyboards, Producer
Jon Butcher - Guitar, Vocals
Jammin' James Carter - Bass, Vocals
Thom Gimbel - Guitar, Horn, Keyboards, Vocals
Jamie Hunting - Bass
Ronnie Lee Sage - Percussion, Drums, Vocals
Timothy B. Schmit - Vocals
121
1995 Positively the Blues
Label - Blues Bureau
Producers - Ben Schultz, Jon Butcher
1. "Cadillac Limousine" (2:54)
2. "Clean-Up Time" (6:52)
3. "Taxman Blues" (3:39)
4. "Union Hall" (2:19)
5. "Honey Bee" (3:47)
6. "Here I Am" (2:54)
7. "20 Years" (3:47)
8. "I Hate Myself" (3:00)
9. "At the Feet of the Master" (5:53)
10. "Two Penny Nail" (4:13)
11. "High Heel Shoes" (4:07)"
12. "Sail On" (1:44)
Jon Butcher - Dobro, Guitar, Vocals, Producer
Ben Schultz - Guitar, Keyboards, Producer, Engineer, Slide Guitar
- [4]
1996 Electric Factory
Label - Blues Bureau Int'l
Producer - Jon Butcher
1. "Rocket Ship" (6:25)
2. "Chili Sauce" (6:23)
3. "Rather Go Fishin'" (3:14)
4. "Cactus Flower" (7:08)
5. "A Sea of Blues" (5:04)
6. "The Fireman's Ball" (3:19)
7. "Gambler" (5:07)
8. "Yes, She Does" (3:45)
9. "Brian's Electric Factory" (5:24)
10. "The Coleman Mine" (1:04)
11. "By Railroad Line" (3:24)
Jon Butcher - Multi Instruments, Producer
Kelly Rucker - Harp
Ben Schultz - Multi Instruments, Engineer, Mixing
- [5]
1998 The Best of Jon Butcher: Dreamers Would Ride
Label - Razor & Tie
1. "Might as Well Be Free" (4:32)
2. "Life Takes a Life" (3:54)
3. " Goodbye Saving Grace" (4:16)
4. "Holy War" (4:11)
5. "Don't Say Goodnight" (3:23)
6. "Stop" (4:11)
7. "Sounds of Your Voice" (3:41)
8. "Waiting for a Miracle" (5:19)
9. "May This Be Love" (3:08)
10. "Wishes" (4:01)
11. "The Ritual" (2:57)
12. "Whiskey River" (3:47)
13. "If I Love You" (1:42)
14. "Send Me Somebody" (4:07)
15. "This Raging Fire" (4:10)
16. "It's Only Words" (Live) (3:48)
17. "Division Street" (4:45)
- [6]
1999 King Biscuit Flower Hour
Label - King Biscuit
Producer - Joe Pheifer
1. "Writing on the Wall" (3:40)
2. "Life Takes a Life" (5:01)
3. "Long Way Home" (4:27)
4. "American Dream" (3:59)
5. "Goodbye Saving Grace" (7:25)
6. "Heaven" (6:43)
7. "Wishes" (3:59)
8. "Fire Down the Well" (7:09)
9. "Holy War" (4:34)
10. "Higher Ground" (5:26)
11. "Interview With Jon Butcher" (12:09)
Jon Butcher - Main Performer
Kevin Flaherty - Executive Producer
Len Handler - Executive Producer
Joe Pheifer - Producer
Kevin T. Cain - Executive Producer
-
2001 Stiff Little Breeze
Label - Orchard
Producer - John Butcher
1. "Stiff Little Breeze" (2:43)
2. "Tie the Devil Down" (3:37)
3. "Red House" (4:39)
4. "The Tiger in the Tall Grass" (4:42)
5. "Big Guitars" (3:29)
6. "Love Is a River" (3:35)
7. "Bats" (1:27)
8. "High Road to Heaven" (3:17)
9. "Money" (3:35)
10. "The Dreamer" (3:13)
11. "Wicked Woman" (3:57)
12. "A Light Texas Rain" (2:14)
13. "When the Heart Beats Once" (3:14)
14. "Beal St." (1:26)
Jon Butcher - Producer, Engineer
Jeff Clark - Engineer
Larry Mah - Mastering
- [7]
2002 An Ocean In Motion: Live In Boston
Label - Atom
Producer - John Butcher
1. "Ocean in Motion" (2:54)
2. "Victims" (4:56)
3. "Life Takes a Life" (4:42)
4. "Fairlight" (4:42)
5. "Sentinel" (6:24)
6. "Walk Like This" (3:15)
7. "Walk on the Moon" (5:23)
8. "New Man" (4:46)"
9. "It's Only Words" (3:30)
10. "Not Fade Away" (3:11)
11. "Don't Say Goodnight" (4:28)
Derek Blevins - Percussion, Drums
Jon Butcher - Guitar, Vocals, Producer, Liner Notes, Graphic Design, Art Direction
Thom Gimbel - Keyboards, Saxophone, Vocals (Background)
Larry Mah - Mastering
- [8]
2004 American Dream
Label - Disky
1. "American Dream"
2. "Fire Down The Well"
3. "Higher Ground"
4. "Long Way Home"
5. "Writing On The Wall"
6. "Holy War"
7. "Heaven"
8. "Life Takes A Life"
9. "Wishes"
10. "Goodbye Saving Grace"
Derek Blevins - Percussion, Drums
Jon Butcher - Guitar, Vocals, Producer, Liner Notes, Graphic Design, Art Direction
Thom Gimbel - Keyboards, Saxophone, Vocals (Background)
Larry Mah - Mastering
-

Singles[edit]

Year Single The Billboard Hot 100 Mainstream Rock Tracks Album
1983 Life Takes A Life - 26 Jon Butcher Axis
1985 Stop - Along the Axis
Sounds of Your Voice 94 -
1987 Goodbye Saving Grace - 7 Wishes
Holy War - 25
1989 Might as Well Be Free - 38 Pictures from the Front
Send Me Somebody - 7

References[edit]

External links[edit]