Bernard Butler

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Bernard Butler
Butler performing live with The Tears at the Roskilde Festival 2005
Butler performing live with The Tears at the Roskilde Festival 2005
Background information
Birth nameBernard Joseph Butler
Born (1970-05-01) 1 May 1970 (age 53)
Stamford Hill, London, England
GenresAlternative rock, Britpop, glam rock
Occupation(s)Singer-songwriter, guitarist, record producer
Instrument(s)Guitar, piano, vocals, bass
Years active1989–present

Bernard Joseph Butler (born 1 May 1970) is an English musician, songwriter and record producer. He has been hailed by some critics as the greatest guitarist of his generation;[1] BBC journalist Mark Savage called him "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.

Early life[edit]

Butler was born to Irish parents in North London on 1 May 1970.[4] He spent his summers in his parents' hometown of Dún Laoghaire and in an interview given in 2022, he reflected on his upbringing and Irish immigration to Britain.

I don't know if it's the case now much, but definitely up to the generation where I was from. Just because of the migration in the sixties, I guess. That was the big thing in the '60s, and we all ended up in Manchester, Liverpool or North London. Places wherever the trains came into: Holyhead. Growing up, pretty much everyone I knew was Irish.[4]

The youngest of three boys, Butler credits his oldest brother with inspiring his interest in music.[5] The first vinyl record he bought was The Smiths' Hand in Glove, having become a fan of the band after hearing John Peel play Reel Around the Fountain on his BBC radio show.[5] When he was eight, Butler started learning to play the violin, something which he later recalled he "used to get beaten up and spat at on the bus for."[6] His introduction to the guitar came after his brothers lost interest in a "terrible electric guitar".[6] Butler used it to play along with Johnny Marr's guitar parts to The Smiths' songs, eventually learning each one note-by-note and becoming proficient without ever having a formal guitar lesson.[6]



He first achieved fame in 1992 as the guitarist with Suede, forging a songwriting partnership with Brett Anderson. He co-wrote and played guitars or piano 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.[7]


Immediately after leaving Suede he formed the duo McAlmont & Butler with David McAlmont and they released two singles, "Yes" and "You Do". A compilation album, The Sound Of... McAlmont & 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 & 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 formed a new band with Brett Anderson, The Tears, based on the same style that yielded 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,[8] and "Lovers".

In March 2024, Butler announced his third solo album, Good Grief, due for release in May 2024.[9]

Collaborations and production work[edit]

Butler has played on and/or produced records by[10] 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, Duffy, The View, Arkitekt, Sons and Daughters, Black Kids, Tricky, Sharleen Spiteri, Nerina Pallot, Natalie McCool and Pet Shop Boys.[citation needed]

In 2005 he was introduced to Welsh singer Duffy, and contributed to her top-selling debut album Rockferry—it was the best selling album of 2008 in the UK—which won the Best Pop Vocal Album Grammy Award in 2008.[11][12]

In 2009 Butler co-wrote/produced/played on tracks by The Veils,[13] Tommy Reilly,[14] Jonathan Jeremiah,[15] Kate Jackson and Catherine A.D who now performs as The Anchoress.[16] He also commenced production work on Kate Nash's second album My Best Friend Is You in mid-2009.[17]

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, resulting in a touring and recording collaboration spanning 2 albums and several years of live shows across the globe.

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.

In May 2014, Butler organised two special McAlmont & Butler performances to raise funds for The Bobath Centre's work with children with cerebral palsy. The London shows at the Union Chapel and Islington Assembly Hall sold out, and the duo were accompanied by a full band that consisted of members of The Magic Numbers, Mako Sakamoto on drums and Sean Read on keyboards.[18]

In 2017, Butler produced the self-titled debut album of the New York band QTY. In November 2019, Pet Shop Boys released their second single "Burning The Heather" from their forthcoming album Hotspot, featuring acoustic guitar played by Bernard Butler. Acclaimed folk artist Sam Lee collaborated with Butler in 2019 resulting in his widely acclaimed "Old Wow" album and selected live shows which followed. Butler joined Lee's curated Earth Day live stream in May 2020 improvising remotely along to a live stream of nightingales singing in the Sussex forest. This was followed by the release of tracks from Roxanne De Bastion. In 2020 writer Pete Paphides' label Needle Mythology finally released the open collaboration with Catherine Anne Davies. The album "In Memory of My Feelings" compiled 10 songs drawn from the writing sessions begun in 2009 which Butler then pieced together and completed. Artwork was created in collaboration with acclaimed artist Eva Vermandel.

During 2021, Butler worked on a new Altered Images album with 1980s band members Clare Grogan and Stephen Lironi. According to Grogan, who announced the release in December 2021, the album would be released in August 2022, on Cooking Vinyl Records, with the name Mascara Streakz.[19][20][21][22]

On 15 April 2022, Butler and Irish actress Jessie Buckley released "The Eagle & The Dove", the lead single from their album.[23] For All Our Days That Tear the Heart was released on 17 June 2022.[24] The resulting album "For All Our Days That Tear The Heart" was released to widespread acclaim and resulted in a nomination for the prestigious Mercury Music Prize. In 2023 Butler completed Sam Lee's "Songdreaming" album and the debut from Irish band The Clockworks "Exit Strategy" He toured as 'Butler, Blake, Grant' alongside songwriters Norman Blake and James grant, a collaboration formed for the 2022 Celtic Connections. The trio continue to tour and have begun work on a debut record. In 2024 butler plans a series of live solo shows centred around a new record to be released in the summer.


Butler created the soundtrack to the 1997 film The James Gang and played on the soundtrack of Velvet Goldmine, and in 2020 created the score to a BBC Horizon episode on Pluto.

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.[25]


Butler won the Producer's Award at the 2009 BRIT Awards,[2] Producer of the Year at the 2008 Music Managers Forum Awards, was nominated for Best Producer at the 2009 Music Week Awards, and received a Grammy Award for work on Duffy's "Rockferry" which won the Best Album award for 2009.




McAlmont & 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. ^ a b "Far Out Meets: Bernard Butler on Britpop, new music and the impulse of creativity". Retrieved 04 November 2022.
  5. ^ a b "Why I Love… The Smiths' Hand In Glove". Retrieved 04 November 2022.
  6. ^ a b c "Return of the axe". The Guardian. Retrieved 04 November 2022.
  7. ^ "Bernard Leaves Suede NME July 1994". The Insatiable Ones. Retrieved 2 September 2021.
  8. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 550. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  9. ^ Breihan, Tom (27 March 2024). "Bernard Butler Announces First New Solo Album In 25 Years". Stereogum. Retrieved 29 March 2024.
  10. ^ "Bernard butler 70 miles". Archived from the original on 8 March 2008. Retrieved 16 February 2009.
  11. ^ Urmee Khan (16 February 2009). "Coldplay and Duffy among British acts dominating top ten global albums of 2008". The Telegraph. Retrieved 3 December 2014.
  12. ^ "Butler's sympathy for singer Duffy". Belfast Telegraph. 20 April 2014. Retrieved 3 December 2014.
  13. ^ Rebecca Raber (6 May 2009). "The Veils". Pitchfork. Pitchfork Media Inc. Retrieved 3 December 2014.
  14. ^ Mike Diver (2009). "Tommy Reilly Words on the Floor Review". BBC Music. BBC. Retrieved 3 December 2014.
  15. ^ Paul Lester (28 July 2009). "Jonathan Jeremiah (No 594)". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 December 2014.
  16. ^ "Ex-Suede man wins top producer award". Dolphin Music. S&T Audio Ltd. 13 February 2009. Retrieved 3 December 2014.
  17. ^ "Kate Nash begins work on new album with Bernard Butler". NME. Time Inc. (UK) Ltd. 5 August 2009. Retrieved 3 December 2014.
  18. ^ "McAlmont & Butler reunite for The Bobath Centre". Bobath Children. The Bobath Centre. 9 May 2014. Archived from the original on 17 June 2015. Retrieved 3 December 2014.
  19. ^ "Altered Images readying first album in 38 years". 2 October 2021.
  20. ^ "Altered Images / Mascara Streakz". 16 December 2021.
  21. ^ "Altered Images return with Cooking Vinyl deal".
  22. ^ "Clare Grogan announces Altered Images reunion with band set to release new music for first time in 40 years". October 2021.
  23. ^ Aubrey, Elizabeth (15 April 2022). "Jessie Buckley and Bernard Butler share emotive new single 'The Eagle And The Dove'". Retrieved 15 May 2022.
  24. ^ Patterson, Sylvia (15 April 2022). "'I prefer to live life with danger and darkness': Jessie Buckley and Bernard Butler on breakdowns, Oscars and their album". The Guardian. Retrieved 15 May 2022.
  25. ^ "bernard butler's fundraising page". Virgin Money Giving. Virgin Money. 18 April 2014. Retrieved 18 April 2014.

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