The Exploits (1963)

(Butch Berman,

age 14, upper right)

Some of the records that Butch played on...

The Exploits

(1964 acetate)

"Rock and Roll Behavior," Charlie Burton and Rock Therapy (Wild Records 1976)

"Guitar Case" w/ "Dolled Up Cutie," Charlie Burton and Rock Therapy (Wild Records 1977)

"Mobile, Alabama" w/ "Dead Giveaway," Charlie Burton and Rock Therapy (Wild Records 1978)
"Givin' It Up to Daddy" w/ "(Do the) 64 Dances," Pinky Black and the Excessives (Real Gone Records 1982)
"Crazy Baby" w/ "Intimate Information," Pinky Black and the Excessives (Real Gone Records 1983)
"Oogum Boogum," Pinky Black and the Excessives (Real Gone Records 1984)
"Let's Pretend We're in Love" w/ "You Confuse Me," Richard Sullivan (Real Gone Records 1984)
"Bobby Lowell and Company," Bobby Lowell (Unlimited Productions 1984)
"Ice Cold Heart" w/ "Be-Bop-a-Lula," Bobby Lowell and Jay Fremont (Roto Records 1985)
"Iron Pony II" w/ "Please) Take Me Back," Bobby Lowell and Jay Fremont (Roto Records 1985)
"Then and Now," Bobby Lowell (Iron Pony Records 1985)
"Hot Rock from the Heartland," EP, Janice K and the Phantom Band (Unlimited Productions 1985)
"Taxi," The Tablerockers featuring Earlene Owens (Foundation Records 1986)
"Surfin' in the Midwest, Vol. 2," various artists (Unlimited Productions 1987)
"Scientific Bombs Away," Roy Loney and the Phantom Movers (reissued on Norton Records 1988)
"Twisted Twang," The Perks (Sty Records 1995)
"Get Out!" Jim Jacobi (affiliated with Foundation Records 2004)

Rock 'n' Roll History

Butch Berman


Butch Berman in rock 'n' roll modeButch Berman founded the Berman Music Foundation in spring 1995, but his varied interests in music go back a lot farther. At age seven, he was taking lessons in classical piano. An only child raised in 1950s Lincoln, Nebraska, the precocious audiophile had collected 300 rock ‘n’ roll 45s by age 10. He also had begun playing keyboards and improvising on the guitar.


He played in a succession of local rock bands in the early 1960s, including The Mods, who were inducted into the Nebraska Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. He grew his hair long and considered dropping out of school. At age 15, he was sent to Wentworth Military Academy, where instead of discipline the young cadet was introduced to all the thrills and excitement of Kansas City, just 40 miles down the road.


By the early 1970s, Butch was back on the rock scene in Lincoln, playing guitar and keyboards in a number of bands, including such regional favorites as The Megatones and Charlie Burton & Rock Therapy. He even toured Spain with rockabilly legend Sleepy LaBeef. The 1980s found him in San Francisco, hanging out at Jack’s Record Cellar, playing with Roy Loney & the Phantom Movers and beginning to acquire an interest in jazz.


Butch Berman strikes rock 'n' roll poseReturning to Lincoln in the early 1990s, Butch continued to build a large and diverse record collection and began an eight-year stint as a deejay, eventually hosting “Bop Street Theater,” and “Reboppin’,” "Reboppin' Revisited" and "Soul Stew" on KZUM Community Radio.


When he was not busy managing the Berman Music Foundation and booking jazz artists, Butch continued to perform in local rock bands and to keep tuned to the latest music in a variety of styles.


Butch's final band was the Cronin Brothers, a group of veteran roots rockers that formed in 2004. With the addition of guitarist and singer Kelly McGovern, the surviving members Bill Lohrberg (guitar, vocals), Craig Kingery (bass and vocals) and Don Holmquist (drums and vocals) continued to perform for several years after Butch's death to preserve the spirit of their "patriarch."


Below is a list of rock 'n' roll bands that Butch Berman performed and/or recorded with. Beginning when Butch was just 14 years old, it represents more than 44 years dedicated to professional music. Butch shares his reflections about each chapter in that career: 


The Exploits (1963)


Butch (upper right) with The ExploitsThe original group lineup was Butch Berman, piano; J.D. Slice, guitar; Tom Hinds, guitar; Tiff Tyrrell, drums; Tom Kos, sax; Jim Rosenberger, manager. Later the group was Berman, Hinds, Tyrrell, Mark Dalton and Bruce Kubick. They cut an EP acetate of surf tunes in January 1964, including an original, "Surfer Blues," by Butch Berman.

Butch Berman: "My first rock n’ roll memory is, for some reason, sitting in with Mark Dalton and the late Walt Warnsholz’s combo, The Starfires, at Lincoln’s East Hills Supper Club. I can’t recall how I first met these guys back in 1963-‘64.  Anyway, a little while later I was noodling on the piano at my family’s Jewish Synagogue in the gym (why I was there…who knows?) when a guy named Tom Hinds, who was playing basketball with some guys, heard me and asked if I wanted to get into a band they were starting soon to called the Exploits. Dalton came aboard soon after, while Warnsholz brought me into the famed Megatones years later. One last thought was just getting my driver’s license or maybe only my learner’s permit and getting my folks to let me drive to our combo practices at Tiff Tyrrell’s parents’ house a few miles away. I almost felt REALLY cool and got quite a rush from just getting the car to go somewhere and play music."


The Impacts (1964)


Butch (second from left with guitar) with The ImpactsThis surf band evolved out of The Exploits and included, at one time or another, Butch Berman, Bruce Kubik, Mark Dalton, and Tom Hinds, guitar; Larry Russell, Al Lehrdahl, and Jim Schaffer, bass; Steve Reed, drums. The band later became the earliest edition of the Modds.


Butch Berman: "I remember we were all equipment fanatics. It was cool to be in an all-Fender band at age 15."



The Mods (1965)


Butch (center) with The ModdsThe original group was Butch Berman, guitar and vocals; Jon Snyder, guitar and vocals; Danny Rogers, guitar and vocals; Jim Reinmuth, guitar and vocals; Tom Hinds, bass and vocals; and Steve Reed, drums.


Butch Berman: "My first big-thrill band. I was ready to never get a haircut, get a motorcycle and hit the road with these guys. Having too many guitarists, I hit my folks up for a Hammond B-3 organ. Much to my chagrin, they sent me to Wentworth Military Academy instead, beginning my long-term bout of parent-bashing and rebelliousness."



Just Noise (1966)


Mike "Spanky" Landis with Just Noise, the Wentworth Military Academy bandThis Wentworth Military Academy band occasionally featured vocalist Mike “Spanky” Landis of Spider and the Crabs.


Butch, on guitar, with Just NoiseButch Berman: "Playing in this band got me out of a lotta shit, especially since I chose all the cadet officers to be in my group. Otherwise, being a first-year man (a rat) in military school would have been a total drag. Listening to WHB radio in Kansas City during my WMA tenure was fab, as it was even cooler than KLMS during my teens in Lincoln."



The Kaleidoscope (1969)


Butch (left) with The KaleidoscopeLincoln cover group and house band at now-defunct High Chaparral, featuring Butch Berman, piano and guitar; Colin Keefe, vocals and trumpet; Richie Lane, organ; Bob Rock, guitar and vocals; Bobby Manzell, bass and vocals; and Rick Walters, drums. Later reformed as Heaven with guitarist Leroy Critcher and others.


Butch Berman: "Fun cover band, doing the hits of the era that featured Three Dog Night and Sly and the Family Stone. It was an 'Animal House'-like band house that made our practices a real adventure."



Tundra (1970)


This Duluth, Minn.-based band consisted of Butch Berman, organ; Larry West, guitar and vocals; Steve Hilt, drums; Lincolnite Steve Rogers, bass; and violinist Michael McGillivary.


Butch Berman: "Avoiding legal trouble at home during my tortured youth, I moved to live and work in Kearney, Neb., where I had run a Crazy Cracker fireworks stand for Pat Egan the previous summer. I met this band coming through town at the famed Fireside Inn and decided to hit the road with them to avoid working at Janda's Music Store any longer. The band was in financial trouble from the beginning, and at every gig creditors would be confiscating equipment. Not to be stranded in Duluth, I wisely booked the band at Little Bo's in Lincoln to make it home and then bailed."



The Megatones (1973)


Butch (second from right) with The MegatonesA six-piece group, The Megatones played a rock and r&b repertoire and were Lincoln's leading band for several years. Members included Charlie Burton, guitar and vocals; Butch Berman, piano and vocals; Bill Dye, guitar; Gary "Otto" Spalti, bass; Dave Robel, drums; and Walter Warnsholz, tenor sax.


Butch Berman: "One of my all-time favorite bands. The Megatones had a huge following, including a group of dancing groupies called the Megettes. Our audiences followed us everywhere and we were just getting ready to record our first record when Walt took ill and Bill decided to leave. Chances of finding a new guitarist seemed slim until I decided to tackle the chore and Charlie Burton and Rock Therapy emerged."


Bart Becker, Lincoln Journal, June 13, 1974: "Charlie Burton, lead singer of a six-piece rhythm and blues/rockabilly group called the Megatones, thinks it's time America snapped out of its cultural somnambulism. He sees the Great Awakening coming in the form of 'earthy' folk music. 'I don't think it will grab America and become as popular as, say, baseball or Ethel Merman,' he said. 'But it might be a thing that a significant minority  of people would say, "Wow, that's good stuff."' A few minutes after 10 on a Friday night it's apparent that a bar full of local music aficionados shares his sentiments."



Charlie Burton and Rock Therapy (1976)


Butch (right) with Charlie Burton and Rock TherapyThe band consisted of Charlie Burton, guitar and vocals; Butch Berman, guitar and vocals; Gary "Otto" Spalti, bass; and Dave Robel, drums.


Butch Berman: "Truly the greatest rock band I've ever performed with and maybe the best rock band of all time! Charlie and I loved and fought with each other like brothers, which unfortunately brought the band to a historic close at Lincoln's Drumstick on New Year's Eve 1979. Nevertheless, the chemistry between us all was incendiary and scintillating, making for amazing rock 'n' roll music whose legend and memory lives on through its many fans and three rockin' 45s. An attempt to reunite Rock Therapy after the Charlie Burton induction into the Nebraska Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2000 resulted in an unreleased four-song demo CD."


Bart Becker, Lincoln Journal, March 31, 1977: "From a distance, you could mistake the sound for just another nighttime drag race. But, then, if you're close enough to hear it at all, you might as well move in and see what the shouting's about... Butch Berman is stitching together guitar leads in the style of a sewing machine gone manic, while the writhing dancers do their best imitation of the Poseidon disembarkation."


Steve Millburg, Omaha World-Herald, date unknown: "Rock Therapy generally looked as if it either shopped at the Salvation Army or rolls particularly seedy drunks for its wardrobe; for example, Butch Berman cranked out wonderful Buddy Holly-meets-the-Beach Boys guitar while wearing a ratty brocade sport coast and pink ascot under his black beard. I guess that's rock 'n' roll."


Tim Carr, Minneapolis Tribune, Dec. 12, 1977: "Guitarist Butch Berman, a classically trained pianist, added just the right guitar fills while the rhythm section, drummer Dave Robel and bassist Otto Spalti, played a fast, powerful and steady bottom."


Doug Simmons, New York Rocker, date unknown: "Burton himself strums an eccentric rhythm, but lead guitarist Butch Berman was simply fantastic. He resurrected the Scotty Moore/Cliff Gallup sound with cascades of cleverly-phrased notes that shaded and accented Burton's raw outpouring.



Butch (left) with Sleepy LaBeef (to Butch's left)Sleepy LaBeef (1980)


Butch Berman: "Sleepy caught me playing keyboards at the Zoo Bar and asked me to meet him in New York to prepare for a tour based in Barcelona, Spain. A leg injury forced me back to Lincoln after only a month touring that country. I still occasionally sit in with Sleepy when he's in the area, which unfortunately isn't too often."


Roger Catlin, Omaha World-Herald, April 6, 1980: "LaBeef was as impressed with Berman's barrelhouse piano boogie as he was by the barely audible guitar. Berman was a pianist for the Megatones, the band from which Rock Therapy sprang in late 1975. At any rate, Berman got the nod and will be touring Europe with the band after its current American tour."



The Excessives (1980)


Butch (center) with the ExcessivesThis rockabilly, r&b and soul group started as a trio with Butch Berman, guitar; Terry Clements, bass; Jeff Cloidt, drums. After a few months the band added Bill Dye, guitar; and Mike Hatfield, vocals.


Butch Berman: "This band had moderate success in marketing ourselves in a fashion similar to the formula that led to Charlie Burton's success. Later adding singer-songwriter Bart Becker, we evolved into Pinky Black and the Excessives."


Mike Kohler, publication and date unknown: "Butch's band came on and played downright tantalizing rock and roll. Butch's guitar licks were better than ever, and all his old friends and fans remembered him. Butch picked as perspiration flowed off his head and down his guitar, and the dancers complimented him with a flow of energy that matched the flow of sweat."



Pinky Black and the Excessives (1981)


Butch (second from left) with Pinky Black and the ExcessivesWhen Bill Dye and Mike Hatfield left The Excessives near the end of 1981, the trio of Berman, Clements and Cloidt stayed together and, with Bart Becker, formed Pinky Black and the Excessives for recordings in 1982 and 1983.


Butch Berman: "With help from executive producer and friend Wade Wright and engineer and bassist Terry Clements, we started Real Gone Studios, going on to produce records for ourselves, as well as for Richard Sullivan, Bobby Lowell and Janice K."



St. Paul King Bees (1982)


Butch Berman: "After meeting former lead singer Tom Taylor, we were added to the remains of his famed King Bees band to perform at the band's reunion. Other members included ex-Joe Walsh and Barnstorm keyboardist Rocky Grace, as well as using some of Lincoln's jazz players to augment our horn-driven sound. They include Jerry Boster and Ed Love, saxes; and Jeff Patton, trumpet, among others."



Bobby Lowell and the Wrecking Crew (1985)


The band consisted of Butch Berman, guitar, keyboard and vocals; Sean Benjamin, guitar, keyboard and vocals; Jay Fremont, keyboards; the late Joe Gray, bass and vocals; and Dave Robel, drums.


Butch Berman: "Old pal Doug Lawson, who was working at Aaron Douglas' short-lived record store, turned me on to the realization that Bobby Lowell was still around and maybe ready to re-emerge in the biz. We helped his resurrection in recording four records together and doing some touring which later led to his induction in the Nebraska Rock and Roll Hall of Fame."



Janice K and the Phantom Band (1985)


The band consisted of Janice K, vocals and guitar; Butch Berman, guitar, piano and vocals; Gary "Otto" Spalti, bass; and Dave Robel, drums.


Butch Berman: "I met the Lady Elvis during my Megatone days. I was happy to be able to capture her animal magnetism on vinyl."



The Tablerockers (1986)


Butch (left) with The Tablerockers, featuring Earlene Owens (front and center)The band consisted of Butch Berman, guitar and piano; Sean Benjamin, guitar and vocals; Larry Boehmer, bass and vocals; and Marc Wilson, outside of Dave Trupp the best blues shuffle drummer I ever worked with. Also featured on the CD, "Taxi," were Earlene Owens on vocals and Magic Slim on vocals and guitar.


Butch Berman: "Due to legal problems, this record remained on the shelf for many years. When the Berman Music Foundation came into being, we reissued it, played a lot and even released a second CD under the moniker Not All There, which I helped produce. A major snafu with Boehmer put the kibosh on this CD project from the start, leading to personal difficulties that continue today. Nevertheless, this was one rockin' blues band." 



Roy Loney and the Phantom Movers (1988)


Butch (second from right) with Roy Loney (left) and the Phantom MoversButch Berman: "While living in San Francisco, I met Roy while he was working at Jack's Record Cellar with Wade Wright and Jeff Richardson. Formerly with the Flamin' Groovies, Roy is a consummate rocker and brilliant singer-songwriter. It was a pleasure to be on one album with him and do some gigging in the Bay Area. Roy still works and records steadily and remains a good friend to this day."


Roadside Attraction (1991-93)


The band was comprised of Butch Berman, keyboard, guitar, vocals; TerryRoadside Attraction were (clockwise from upper left) Terry Clements, Steve Hanson, Butch Berman, Jeff Cloidt, Sylvia Bailey and Deann Alison. Clements, bass, vocals; Jeff Cloidt, drums, vocals; Richard Sullivan, guitar, vocals; Steve Hanson, guitar, vocals; Jim Pipher, bass, vocals; Deann Alison, vocals; and Sylvia Bailey, vocals


Butch Berman: “Not the happiest bunch of campers at this stage of our lives were the Roadside Attraction. This Texas-style rhythm-and-blues hybrid band combined the former Excessives and Pinky Black and the Excessives with the duo talents of longtime bandmates Steve Hanson and Jim Pipher, after the original bassist, Terry Clements, moved to Seattle and our other guitarist, Richard Sullivan, went on to play in Lincoln’s country circuit for a time. This popular lineup, whose highlighted gigs included Lincoln’s famed Chili Fest and opening for Mitch Ryder, lasted a couple of years or so. If we hadn’t been a band, we could have been a contender for 'Days of Our Lives,' during our turbulent growing periods."



The Perks (1995)


Butch (left) with The PerksThe band consisted of Judy Letheby, vocals, keyboards and guitar; Bob Letheby, bass and vocals; Butch Berman, guitar, keyboards and vocals; and Dean Bridges, drums, later to be replaced by -- who else? -- Dave Robel.


Butch Berman: "I can't remember how we met, but it might have been in Norfolk, the Lethebys' stomping grounds when I used to jam there at Tom Taylor's one-time Depot restaurant. Cool cats, great players and a lot of fun. Judy's one hell of a songwriter."



Charlie Burton and the Dorothy Lynch Mob (2000)


Butch (left) with Charlie Burton and the Dorothy Lynch MobThe band consisted of Charlie Burton, guitar and vocals; Guitar George, guitar; Dave Boye, bass; Dave Fowler, fiddle; Steve Blazek, steel guitar; and Dave Robel, drums.


Butch Berman: "I'm proud to be an unofficial Dorothy Lynch Mobster and to get to fill in occasionally on guitar for Charlie. Always a total gas."



Butch (left) and Richard SullivanThe Lounge Hounds (2003)


Butch Berman, guitar and vocals; Richard Sullivan, guitar and vocals.


Butch Berman: "My first gig as a lounge act and a duo, Richard and I had a ball reworking old rock standards into jazzy lounge tunes."



Jim Jacobi (Jojakimbi Band) (2004)


Butch (right) with Jim Jacobi and the Jojakimbi BandButch Berman: "After knowing Jim for years, we finally became good friends as we approached our middle age. So impressed with his current songwriting abilities, I jumped at the chance to help executive produce his album, 'Get Out!', and perform on it, as well. I've been lucky in my career to work with genius songwriters like Jim, Charlie Burton and Roy Loney."



The Cronin Brothers (2004-2008)


Butch (second from left) with The Cronin BrothersThe band consisted of Butch Berman, guitar, keyboards and vocals; Don Holmquist, drums and vocals; Craig Kingery, bass and vocals; and Bill Lohrberg, guitar and vocals.


Butch Berman: "Last, and hopefully not least, is my current band of local rock veterans. Age appears to be no factor in the rock 'n' roll biz, as the Cronin Brothers cut a mighty swath, rocking just as hard in middle age as ever. The Cronin Brothers -- it's a state of mind." 


With the addition of guitarist and singer Kelly McGovern, the surviving members Bill Lohrberg, Craig Kingery and Don Holmquist continued to perform and to preserve the spirit of their "patriarch" for several years after his death.

Home - Mission - Feedback - Performances - Prez Sez - Feature Articles - CD Reviews - Links - Newsletter