Bernard Butler, The Dramatic Guitar Player


Bernard Butler has been noted as one of Britain's most original and influential guitarists. He was voted the 24th greatest guitarist of the last 30 years in a national 2010 BBC poll.

Butler achieved fame as the guitarist of Suede, forging a songwriting partnership with Brett Anderson. The Mercury Prize winning debut 'Suede' in 1993 was the fastest selling record chart topper in years creating a media frenzy. 

Brett Anderson and Bernard Butler

Butler is often seen performing with a 1961 cherry red Gibson ES-355. In Suede, he turned heads for his uniquely dramatic playing style with eerie ambient sounds, crunching riffs, a clean-ish - jangly tone, or a fuzzy - over driven tone.

Suede perform "Animal Nitrate" at the Brit Awards in 1993

Butler co-writing and playing guitars on every Suede recording until 1994. He quit the band after recording Suede's second album Dog Man Star. The defining Dog Man Star, a sprawling concept of rare ambition resulted in Butler’s untimely exit.

Suede continued without Butler. But, his contribution will remain the defining moment in the band’s history.

After leaving Suede, Butler collaborated with the singer David McAlmont on what was intended as a one off burst of pop. They released two singles, "Yes" and "You Do". The hit song "Yes" with Motown characteristics was bound together by more experimental b-sides taking in folk, soul and art rock directions. A compilation album, The Sound of McAlmont and Butler was released after the collaboration ended. 

"Yes" by McAlmont & Butler. Released in May 1995

Butler then released two solo albums: People Move On and Friends and Lovers. In 2001 Butler teamed up with McAlmont for a second McAlmont and Butler album, Bring it Back.

In 2004, Butler formed a new band with Brett Anderson, The Tears, based on the same style as 'Coming Up' (Suede's third album) and 'Head Music' (Suede's fourth album), but with more positive vibrations. In June 2005, The Tears released their debut LP, "Here Come The Tears" which produced by Butler. Singles include "Refugees", which reached number 9 in the UK Singles Chart and "Lovers".

"Lovers" by The Tears. Released in June 2005

Butler also contributed to Welsh singer Duffy's five million-selling debut album Rockferry (released in 2008), which was nominated for three Grammy Awards. Butler contributed the title track, as well as "Syrup & Honey", "Please Stay" for "Telstar - The Movie" and co-wrote "Smoke Without Fire", which was used in the 2009 film An Education.

He has worked extensively as a producer, making  records for The Libertines, Tricky, Black Kids, Kate Nash, Nerina Pallot, Teleman, Findlay Brown, Daley, The Cribs, James Morrison, Frankie & The Heartstrings, Texas and Paloma Faith.

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

Between 2000-2010, Butler played many shows with the legendary folk guitarist Bert Jansch, featuring on his albums "Crimson Moon" and " Edge Of A Dream" sometimes joined by Johnny Marr and Beth Orton. After Jansch's untimely death a Royal Festival Hall tribute concert saw Butler accompany Robert Plant amongst the pantheon of folk’s remaining heroes.

Butler has played guitar on records by Aimee Mann, Bryan Ferry, Roy Orbison and Neneh Cherry. In August 2013, Butler played two shows at The Slaughtered Lamb in London, UK, accompanying Ben Watt on electric guitar, which led to his appearance on Watt's second album "Hendra" . They have toured extensively during 2013-14 including the UK , USA and Japan.

Ben Watt and Bernard Butler perform "Hendra" live on KEXP in 2014

Butler has his own studio, 'Studio 355', which located at unit 1 of North London complex. In October 2013, Butler's new group Trans released the Red EP, the first in a series of EPs  featuring tracks grown out of improvisational sessions with Jackie McKeown, Paul Borchers and Igor Volk. The recordings were made at Studio 355, all sessions improvised, recorded in their entirety and later edited with very few overdubs. The Green EP followed in March 2014.

2016 saw the release of the long awaited solo album by Kate Jackson "British Road Movies". Released to critical acclaim the album was co-written and produced by Butler who also performed most of the instrumentation. He has also produced album from acclaimed singer songwriter Mark Eitzel. formerly of American Music Club. The album was recorded in a short burst at Studio 355.

Since May 2017, Butler host a show, "BB & The King" on Boogaloo Radio. Each week, along with his co-host Mark Kingston. They take the listeners on a themed journey through music that they love, and music that they are discovering, with special guests.

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Bernard Butler's Guitars
  • 1991 Gibson Les Paul with Bigsby
  • 1981 Gibson Les Paul Heritage Elite 80
  • 1961 Gibson ES-355 Electric Guitar
  • 1971 Gibson J-200
  • 1960s Fender Telecaster with Bigsby
  • 1968 Gibson ES-335 12-string
  • 1961 Custom Black Gibson ES-330
  • 1962 Fender Stratocaster
  • Fender Stratocaster Electric Guitar
  • Vox Phantom Special VI