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 51)
Stoke Newington, London, England
GenresAlternative rock, Britpop, Glam rock
Occupation(s)Singer-songwriter, guitarist, record producer
InstrumentsGuitar, piano, vocals, bass
Years active1989–present
Associated actsSuede, The Tears, Manic Street Preachers, McAlmont & Butler, The Verve, Duffy, Trans, Ben Watt, Catherine Anne Davies

Bernard Joseph Butler (born 1 May 1970) is an English musician, songwriter and record producer. He is best known as the first guitarist with Suede, until his departure in 1994. 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.



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.[4]


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,[5] and "Lovers".

Collaborations and production work[]

Butler has played on and/or produced records by[6] 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.[7][8]

In 2009 Butler co-wrote/produced/played on tracks by The Veils,[9] Tommy Reilly,[10] Jonathan Jeremiah,[11] Kate Jackson and Catherine A.D who now performs as The Anchoress.[12] He also commenced production work on Kate Nash's second album My Best Friend Is You in mid-2009.[13]

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.[14]

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 the forthcoming sophomore album 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.


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[]

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.[15]

Butler is a resident lecturer at London's BIMM Institute teaching a degree course in Songwriting, a practice he has used live in collaborative events with the Musicians Union. He is Patron of the Bert Jansch Foundation, encouraging fund distribution and collaborative work with artists and business to continue the work of the late guitarist.


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[]

The Tears[]


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



  1. ^ "Bernard Butler biography". AllMusic
  2. ^ Jump up to: a b "The lowdown on Brits bright stars". BBC News. 18 February 2009
  3. ^ "The Axe Factor". BBC. Retrieved 26 June 2010.
  4. ^ "Bernard Leaves Suede NME July 1994". The Insatiable Ones. Retrieved 2 September 2021.
  5. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 550. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.
  6. ^
  7. ^ Urmee Khan (16 February 2009). "Coldplay and Duffy among British acts dominating top ten global albums of 2008". The Telegraph. Retrieved 3 December 2014.
  8. ^ "Butler's sympathy for singer Duffy". Belfast Telegraph. 20 April 2014. Retrieved 3 December 2014.
  9. ^ Rebecca Raber (6 May 2009). "The Veils". Pitchfork. Pitchfork Media Inc. Retrieved 3 December 2014.
  10. ^ Mike Diver (2009). "Tommy Reilly Words on the Floor Review". BBC Music. BBC. Retrieved 3 December 2014.
  11. ^ Paul Lester (28 July 2009). "Jonathan Jeremiah (No 594)". The Guardian. Retrieved 3 December 2014.
  12. ^ "Ex-Suede man wins top producer award". Dolphin Music. S&T Audio Ltd. 13 February 2009. Retrieved 3 December 2014.
  13. ^ "Kate Nash begins work on new album with Bernard Butler". NME. Time Inc. (UK) Ltd. 5 August 2009. Retrieved 3 December 2014.
  14. ^ "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.
  15. ^ "bernard butler's fundraising page". Virgin Money Giving. Virgin Money. 18 April 2014. Retrieved 18 April 2014.

External links[]

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