Butch Martin

Bass Guitar (1964 – 1969), Passed Away in 1982

Memories of Butch
By Jim Bruno

Butch was our bass player and he definitely was the perfect guy for the job. Butch was involved early on, playing with us in the surf combo years, and he was there from almost the beginning of all of our fair gigs (the actual original members of the Nitecaps were Steve Cron, Tony Coronado, Johnny Diaz and myself. Steve and Tony bowed out pretty early in the evolution of our group and Butch was an early replacement).

I met Butch over at Dennis Hollister’s house, which was the where the first band I was in used to practice (unfortunately, I was booted out of that band the night before they did what would’ve been my first performance ever). Dennis’ mom worked, so his house was one of those places where there was no parental supervision, making it a perfect place to hang out and have fun with some friends.

Butch and his brother Bob would come over to hang out and watch the band practice. Along the way, Butch started to get interested in playing music himself. He started off on guitar, but was more than willing to switch to bass because of our need for a bass player, and later he would always tell me how much he like playing the bass because of the energy and power that the bass player held in the band.

It’s true. Lots of people don’t realize it, but the bass is this strong booming force that really spells out the chord changes. Also, the interaction of bass player and drummer is a very important factor; Butch really took pride in being an important part of the rhythm section.

One of my fond memories of Butch was when he first got his bass guitar – it was a beautiful white Fender Jazz – just a gorgeous bass guitar. He also had a Fender Bassman Amp to go with it, and back in the day, to have an instrument and amplifier like that was really something. Truthfully, every time a member of the band would get a new musical instrument, we would all be as excited as if it was our very own instrument. In our minds it was because everything was a contribution towards our group.

Butch was dedicated to listening to records. I was always pretty good at being able to figure how to play the songs off the records, and spent time with Butch showing him how to play bass melodies. I was a little ahead of him musically at that point in time, as I had been playing longer.

Now, I guess I would have to say that Butch was one of the wilder ones among us Nitecaps, but even so, he was always dedicated to the group and never missed practice or performances (except for the Teenage World’s Fair, which wasn’t his fault).

Overall, Butch did a fine job playing his parts, and was also a good dancer and was a reliable band member.

Butch’s brother Bob, who was a year or so younger than Butch, was also a member of the band. They were kind of inseparable, so it was inevitable that we would have to bring Bob in the group (that’s another story).

Those were very exciting times – music was young and so were we.