Described as a seminal new waver, Chris Butler is a musician best known for a few hits from the 1980s, yet he is still writing and recording with many unique works to his credit.
The Akron-area native will visit Rodman Public Library as a special guest of the Alliance Vinyl Club on Wednesday, November 16. Open to all music lovers, the meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. and Butler will spin some of his favorite records and talk about his career and music.
Butler, a sociology major at Kent State University, was among a crowd of students fired on by the Ohio National Guard on May 4, 1970, and was a friend of Jeffrey Miller, one of the four students killed that day. Butler appeared in several films by KSU film professor Richard Myers and was active in the Kent music scene that spawned such bands as The James Gang, Devo and Chrissie Hynde of The Pretenders. Butler played guitar with the blues band City Lights, bass with The Numbers Band (aka 15-60-75), and guitar for Tin Huey, before making it big with his own musical project – The Waitresses.
Butler was the leading force behind the success of The Waitresses, which recorded two albums, including Wasn’t Tomorrow Wonderful and Bruiseology, as well as two EPs, including I Could Rule the World If Only I Could Get the Parts and Make the Weather. He was the songwriter, producer and guitarist on all of the band's hits, including "I Know What Boys Like," which reached No. 23 on Billboard's Top Tracks chart and No. 62 on the Billboard Top 100 in 1982. The band is also known for "Christmas Wrappings" and for recording the theme song to the TV show Square Pegs, which starred Sarah Jessica Parker and aired from 1982 to 1983.
After the Waitresses disbanded in 1984, Butler spent the rest of the decade producing (Freedy Johnston, Scruffy the Cat, Joan Osborne) and writing songs in hard-won obscurity, playing drums and doing freelance writing for tech and music magazines.
Butler popped back on to the music scene in the 1990s with a series of 45s recorded on antique audio gear using Edison wax cylinders, 1940s wire recorders and 1930s home disk cutters and has been going strong with some interesting and unique projects ever since.
In 1996, he released "The Devil Glitch," a 69-minute song with over 500 verses that is listed in the 1998 Guinness Book of World Records as the world’s longest pop song.
In 1997, he released I Feel A Bit Normal Today, a CD of bent pop.
In 2001, Butler released Un Petit Goûter - The Best of Kilopop! The original work was a fake "best of" album from a non-existent Euro-pop band.
In 2002, he released The Museum of Me, a collection of audio experiments using antique and obsolete recording gear conducted over 10 years.
In 2014, Butler released Easy Life plus alt.easylife.cd, an outtake CD. The work was a song cycle based on the murder of four students at Kent State University in 1970.
In 2018, Butler collaborated with Ralph Carney (Tin Huey, Tom Waits, B-52s) on Songs For Unsung Holidays (Smog Veil), a recording of tunes celebrating off-beat holidays like Gorilla Suit Day and Salami Appreciation Day.
Butler’s most recent projects include writing and producing two short films, and the new CD titled Got It Togehter! He explains that the misspelling of the title is intentional and like … you know … ironic.
Alliance Vinyl Club usually meets on the fourth Wednesday of each month, but is meeting on the third Wednesday during November due to the Thanksgiving holiday and will meet on the second Wednesday of December due to the Christmas holiday.
Although it is called a club, there is no formal membership – and no registration required – to join in on meetings of the group, which offers the opportunity to hang out, listen to music, enjoy good conversation, and make new friends.
For more information about Vinyl Club, call 330-821-2665, ext. 216.