Since the fifth grade, at ten, Joe Butler has been putting bands together as a singer and musician, turning professional at the age of thirteen (making money at it!) Through Junior High School and High School, he organized several bands playing early Rock and Roll at the Youth Center and for weddings, bar mitzahs, and bars, etc. While in the Air Force, he organized The Kingsmen, the top band on Eastern Long Island in the early '60s. One of the members of that band was Steve Boone. Joe and Steve continue to be band-mates to this day.
After leaving the service in 1963, Joe gathered his band and brought them straight to Greenwich Village, changed the name of the band to The Sellouts, began fronting the band from the drums, singing and playing in clubs, scoring a manager, and securing a Mercury Record contract in less than a month. Streetwise, the joke was "sell-outs" were Folk musicians who'd "gone Rock and Roll". In fact, this band was the first band to play Folk-Rock anywhere!
The Village is where Joe Butler and Steve teamed up with John Sebastian and Zal Yanovsky - and The Lovin' Spoonful was born!
The Spoonful became one of the most popular and influential American bands of the '60s, creating more than a half a dozen albums as well as soundtrack music for films like Woody Allen's What's Up, Tiger Lily?, 1966, and Francis Ford Coppola's You're A Big Boy Now, 1967.
Joe wrote songs and sang lead vocals on all the Spoonful albums and many singles plus contributed all backgrounds and harmonies as well as played drums and sundry instruments on hits like "Do You Believe in Magic?", "Summer in the City", "Daydream", and many more. He has also written numerous television and radio advertising jingles. In 1968, Joe, Steve, and new member Jerry Yester carried on (after two of the founding members embarked on solo careers) releasing several charting singles and Joe's album Revelation/Revolution.
Even today, Joe is the lead singer, having stepped out from behind the drums, fronting the group and playing multiple instruments when The Spoonful tours and performs worldwide for hundreds of thousands of fans of all ages annually.
Joe has been inducted into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, The Vocal Group Hall of Fame, and the Long Island Music Hall of Fame. He was recently honored by the Great Neck Arts' Center as "Artist of the Year".
As an actor, he replaced the author, James Rado, in the leading role of "Claude", joining the Original Broadway Cast of Hair. He created the role of "Alaska Wolf Joe" for the Off-Broadway production of the Brecht-Weill social opera The Rise and Fall of Mahagonny (co-starring Barbara Harris, Estelle Parsons, Mort Shuman, and Dave Van Ronk), and co-conceived scenes and material for the rock opera Soon (featuring performers Richard Gere, Peter Allen and Joe.) A founding member of the Circle Theatre Company, alongside award-winning-and-renowned director Marshall Mason and Pulitzer-Prize-winning playwright Lanford Wilson, Joe acted, wrote and directed numerous projects there. His acting training includes The Method with Actors' Studio personnel.
To this day, he maintains his Hair connection by performing with members of the Original Broadway Company for worthy causes such as Doctors Without Borders and Mercy Core.
His daughter is the popular film and TV actress, Yancy Butler. He resides in Greenwich Village, N.Y. with his wife, Kim Ablondi, and is author and composer/lyricist for a new play with music, Hearts In The City.