June 15, 2017 — Chad Butler


My earliest childhood memories involve traveling in a mustard yellow 1975 Dodge van filled with electric guitars and bearded hippies.  I’m pretty sure it had an eight track cassette player, and smelled something like patchouli and cloth diapers. This was the glamorous life of being on tour with a rock band in the 1970’s. My dad was the singer in the band, and my mom and I crossed the U.S. in that van with him, watching and singing along each night as he played concerts all across the country.

I was surrounded by music as I woke up each day and I fell asleep each night on the side of the stage with my dad’s voice in my ears. My Mom tells me that from the time I could walk I was singing, banging on pots and pans trying to play along to the beats and melodies around me.  At the time it must have seemed like everyone I knew played an instrument, that everyone lived and breathed music like we did. I learned early on that music was powerful, that songs had the ability to speak the language of the human heart. At some point, I realized that music was simply in my blood – it had become part of who I was, part of my very heartbeat.

My dad was a superhero to me. Not the cape-wearing kind, but the kind who wore handmade bell-bottom jeans on stage and rocked the best mustache you’ve ever seen. I loved to sit next to him in the back of the van and listen to him sing and play guitar as we rolled down the highway. There was a certain magic in his ability to write songs out of thin air. His songs were the coolest – to me, there was no better songwriter than him!  Now I understand that there was more to his songs than just rock n roll, there was a deeper reason for singing, a powerful motivation for all of us to get in the van. But even then, I knew that my dad cared deeply about the songs he wrote and the people he played them for. There was an intentionality in his music, a passion to communicate hope.

Rock n roll didn’t turn out to be a lifelong career for my dad, even though he has continued to create and play music his whole life.  His band made some great records together,  lived the ups and downs of life on the road for several years, and then decided to call it quits for the sake of other dreams – including supporting their growing families.  As I grew up I continued to love music, playing guitar and drums, but I never dreamed of repeating my dad’s rock n roll lifestyle.  Music seemed such an unlikely professional pursuit that I decided early on that I would follow a more conventional path. I went to college with the full intention to become something “respectable” – a doctor, maybe, or a scientist. But during college something happened – music found me. I started playing for fun with my surfing buddies, and somehow it seemed like I couldn’t avoid being in a band, sometimes several different bands at the same time.  Music wouldn’t leave me alone, and as much as I tried to ignore it (for the sake of my studies) my love for playing drums kept growing.

Fast forward through a couple decades and a wild, unimaginable ride.  I find myself as a full-time musician, a drummer in a rock band, touring the world, and raising a family of my own.  It amuses me now to be following in my dad’s footsteps, even to the point of bringing my family on tour with me. We’ve had some adventures I could never have dreamed up – like the time I packed up my wife and newborn son and toured up the East Coast in Winter in a compact car with a broken heater.  We drove long nights through the snow to get to the next gig, just to be together.  Sure, there were the practical challenges of changing diapers on the dirty floor of a rock club bathroom,  and then later the uncomfortable difficulties of teaching a toddler to use a backstage porta-potty, at an outdoor music festival, in the dark, without a flashlight. But there were also moments of seeing the beauty of the world together, sharing the small quiet minutes of conversation in between the flurry of activity on a world tour.  We have lived the adventure of seeing new places, meeting new people, being part of this traveling circus together.

The band Journey sang “the road ain’t no place to start a family”.  And I would agree that life on the road is most definitely an unusual upbringing for a kid, but those experiences touring together were foundational to my worldview and planted a seed of wonder and purpose that I still feel today.  This is my musical bloodline, this is the heritage that I bring to my kids, this is my family’s adventure, and I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

Categories: Journal

  • John Trenter

    I can identify being saved in the early 70s, I so identify with the pic! You, Wickham, so many present and past kinsmen. I love your parents’ era and mine, and I love yours too. This is our time right now, in one sense the past is gone and in another it does really affect us and stay with us. For instance, I am waiting on a “Parables” double-CD from your dad, for instance right now as my family just last week saw you guys at Joyful Noise (it was all I expected!). By the way, Chad, I have really come to see the leading out and skills more and more on the drums and we all love to rate and compare but I did see Keith Moon in his prime and thought he would never be best until recent years when I’m giving it to you man. I love LOVE how you lead out and fill in so much of the music. Thanks for the story above! Bless you guys, hope you keep going strong for many years!

  • Brett Goodrich

    So good. My parents knew yours in SD and they hold them in high respect.

  • Caleb Ritenour

    that is SO COOL! I’ve always wanted to know more about chad and jerome, cause they’re kinda the unsung heros of this band. I’d also be interested in hearing Chad’s father’s music

  • Jan Murphy

    Thanks for your input into the Christian music world. Just wondering which band your Dad was a singer with/for.

    • John Trenter

      I am sure you found this out, but just in case not, Chuck Butler’s band was/is “Parables,” a very good Jesus movement band. You will want to get “Illustrations” especially, and yes, in ordering this I found Chuck to be as nice as can be and I was so glad to order this from him. This whole Christian/ SF/CB/North Chapel community is beautifully intertwined and just a wonderful model of true Christian community and creative arts

  • Rett Christensen

    God Bless you Chad….thanks for not hiding your talents under a bushel, but more importantly…not letting the things that matter least – get in the way of the things that matter most…..continued success!


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