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Butch Armstrong Biography


Butch Armstrong was born in Cleveland , Ohio and started listening to music at the young age of 4 years old. He was first introduced to the blues when his mother bought him his first record, the recording of “Honky Tonk” by Bill Dogget. He was then exposed to all types of music when his father brought home albums of artists like Frank Sinatra, Tony Bennett, Louis Prima and the Big Bands. He would listen to records, sometimes, all day long.

His first love was the trombone, but the night the Beatles were on television in 1964, he decided to learn to play the guitar the next day. Paul McCartney became his all time hero, but the bass was a little too simple for him, and he decided to learn to play the six-string guitar. He got his first guitar at age 10 and within a year formed his first band, along with his younger brother, who was 9 at the time. His brother played bass and sang. A young lady who worked for WHK, which was a local radio station, discovered them at their first gig. She then managed them and got them exposure on local and national television shows such as The “Jerry G Show” WKYC, channel 3 and channel 5’s “The Upbeat Show.” This led them to an offer to be an opening act at the newly built Ceasar’s Palace in Las Vegas . After recording their first record they continued to play professionally into their teens at clubs, private events and festivals. Butch constantly listened to and learned the songs of a wide variety of musical groups like the Ventures, Beach Boys, Paul Revere & The Raiders, James Brown, the Motown groups, Young Rascals and entire British invasion groups.

For a short time, Butch studied with local teachers, Bob McGuire, Byron Gray and John Stebal. He furthered his guitar playing skills by going to local clubs and watching local guitar players, like Joe Walsh (The James Gang), Wally Bryson (The Choir), Jimmy Anderson (The Rebel Kind), Donny Baker and Richard Shack (The Case of E.T. Hooley) and most of all the legendary Glen Schwartz (The James Gang and Pacific Gas & Electric), as well as attending concerts of the greats on record – Hendrix, Clapton, Beck, Page, Townsend, Johnny Winter, Rory Gallagher, Roy Buchannon and all the Blues Kings; BB, Albert & Freddie.

Heavily influenced by the horn band era of the late ‘60’s, he joined a 10-piece local horn band that specialized in covering songs by Chicago, Blood, Sweat and Tears, Cold Blood, Ten Wheel Drive, Sly & The Family Stone and Tower of Power. After graduating high school Butch toured and recorded with the local legendary semi-nationally known R&B horn group, Rastus, who had two albums out and was led by Michael Geraci, the older brother of Sonny Geraci (The Outsiders – Time Won’t Let Me and later Climax – Precious and Few). After playing with Rastus, Butch also toured and recorded with Sonny Geraci. Butch and the members of Rastus teamed up with vocalist Terry Richards of the rock horn group Chase to form Cyclone in the mid-70’s disco era.

When clubs started canceling bands to get DJ’s he formed a jazz/rock/fusion instrumental power trio, along with his younger brother and drummer, Larry DeGennaro, called The Hoffman Group. That led to the formation of a powerful 7-piece weekly jam band known as the Cedar Taylor Band, fronted by local vocalist Abe LaMarca. The band only lasting for a few months, Butch decided to make the move the Los Angeles , where within a few months was able to meet and jam with two of his favorite groups, Chicago and Tower of Power .

Being that there was very little steady work in LA, not one to sit still, he was extended an offer to come back home and play six nights a week, where he spent most of the early 80’s with one of Cleveland’s top local R&B dance bands, Goodfoot, where he learned to develop vocal skills with the vision of one day fronting his own band. The time was right in the spring of 1989, when Butch Armstrong and partner/bassist, Stutz Bearcat co-founded the Armstrong Bearcat Band.