Drummer and "vocalist" Jim Bender had spent the early and mid-'80s playing in such St. Louis, Missouri basement bands as Bruce Shovel and the Dignified Cows and Russia. In late 1987, he formed a new band with vocalist/harmonica virtuoso Tim Senaldi and drummer Shane Thompson. Bender temporarily gave up his drumming chores to share vocals and front-man status with Senaldi. Senaldi came up with the perfect name for a band: The Beers!!
This lineup recorded the first ever Beers song, "Surfer Bunny."
It was around this time, in December 1987, that guitarist John Trower joined the group after meeting Bender at the University of MO in Columbia where they shared the same dorm floor. (Hudson 4th floor, which was also known as "Hawes House" for you Trivia Buffs LOL)
Trower had spent the late '70s & early '80s playing in such St. Louis basement bands as Monk (1977-'78), Earth (1979-'82), The Project (1984), Hate (1985), and The Independents (1985-'86). The Independents played their first and farewell show on the same night at Mississippi Nights on Laclede's Landing in St. Louis on June 18, 1986. This was the premier small club place to play in St. Louis before you became an arena band. Many household name bands such as The Police played on this stage.
Trower had also released a series of obscure & ridiculous (indeed some would even argue "un-listenable") solo albums.
When Trower and Bender met, they realized they had similar tastes in and attitudes about music (meaning a combination of classic rock/progressive rock with a more punk/alternative feel & attitude) and, before long, recorded their first song, "Hawes House Blues" (which was, as you may have surmised, about their dorm floor & Mizzou/Columbia, MO in general).
Soon Trower was worked into The Beers and helped write such early Beers material as "Katie" and "Dark Beer". The Beers still needed a bassist and Trower knew just the man for the job...
Mike West had handled bass and vocals for a mid-'80s St. Louis basement band known as The Boys of Time and had also done backup and session work for Trower's old band, The Independents.
Now a quintet, The Beers recorded "Beer is Beer" and "Brewery". It was becoming clear that Thompson was no longer needed as Bender was getting more proficient on the skins himself. As a result, Thompson dropped out of the picture (he later resurfaced briefly as the drummer for under-rated downright The Cure-ish band Boo Boo Sis) and Bender took over the percussion job full time.
In the first half of 1988, with various combinations of the 5 musicians, The Beers recorded their debut album, "Brewery". A short tour followed with a gig at JayCee Hall in Columbia, MO and a headlining gig at the Bernard Pub in St. Louis. At the Bernard gig, Mike's brother Tom West (who had also sang for The Independents before & is now a famous radio personality for The Point 105.7 FM, spelling his name "Thom" now) appeared as vocalist and MC. A couple videos of the band playing live around the West home were also filmed at this time.
The Beers spent the second half of 1988 working on their second album. They even enlisted the services of ace lyricist Derek Aamoth, who went on to write or co-write many of the band's lyrics. After completing the now famous album cover and writing most of the album's lyrics, the group set at writing some music. It was an experimental phase and the result was "More Booze", released in 1989. Another concert video was filmed in July 1989.
Tim Senaldi had faded somewhat from The Beers scene but he did have a supporting role on the album. He appeared on the title track as well as "More Blues" (his harmonica tour de force and some say nothing short of the best all time Beers track!). However, Bender and Trower had clearly become the group's constants and were, for better or worse, the most deeply devoted to The Beers.
The Beers then filmed yet another video, this time with a guitarist known only as Dan Z. Dan Z dropped out of the picture as quickly as he came into it but not before the mysterious axeman supplied the band with the riff that became the basis for "What's the Reason", a later Beers gem.
Sometime in the summer of 1989, riff-master guitarist Shane Griffin started playing for The Beers. Shane played on several of the band's tracks ("The Grinning Griffin", "Midnight at the Sandbar", "Burnt Coffee", etc.) but his greatest legacy was the chord progression that became the basis for "Shade of Grey", a Beers classic.
In the fall of 1989, as work began on the third album, ex-Pyrexx Gem leader Evan Wilson expressed a desire to play for The Beers in a hired gun capacity. Evan had lived about 4 houses up from Trower from their 1968 births until Trower moved in 1978 at 10 years old! They never saw each other again until both were 19 year old students at University of MO in 1988. The Beers had a series of sessions with the above genuis IQ virtuoso player/composer/music theorist Wilson from Oct. 1989 to April 1990. From these sessions came such classics as "Burnt Coffee", "Shade of Grey", "Cool Autumn Night", "Dreams", and many others.
The Beers filmed a series of concert videos: Christmas '89, New Years Eve '89-'90, and a video in KISS-type makeup and dress!
A documentary on the band, "The Brewing of The Beers" was released in early 1990.
The 1990 tour fell through when over-rated & now washed-up club owner Richard King (who recently retired, Good Riddance, don't let the door hit you in the ass! LOL) gave the band the runaround on a promised gig at The Blue Note in Columbia, MO.
Despite the upset, The Beers spent the rest of 1990 working on their ever-growing accumulation of material and, in early 1991, the most solid songs were released as the third album, "Draft".
In March 1991, Jim Bender moved to Los Angeles, California and graduated from the Los Angeles Recording Workshop.
West had started attending college in Mobile, Alabama. Evan Wilson was, by this time, residing in Chicago and Tim Senaldi was in the army (stationed in South Carolina). Trower and Griffin alone remained in St. Louis.
In mid 1991, Trower and Wilson began working on a professional demo tape through the mail, phone conversations, and occasional trips to Chicago Trax recording studio (where The Smashing Pumpkins, Ministry & The Red Hot Chili Peppers had recorded) to cut a track. After completing "Dreams" in Oct. 1991 and "Cool Autumn Night" in April 1992, Wilson completed his home studio. Originally called Western Studio, he later changed the name to Mark 1 Studio.
Meanwhile, Bender had upgraded his drum kit, formed a band in L.A. (performing live in June 1992 at a grade school graduation), and met some of the musicians whose songs The Beers had covered (Henry Rollins from Black Flag, Iron Butterfly guitarist Erik Brann, Paul Stanley & Gene Simmons of KISS, etc.) He also met many other rock stars & celebrities such as Eddie Van Halen, Mikey Dolenz of The Monkees, Film Maker John Landis, etc. ... to name just a few...
Trower then took it upon himself to compile the fourth album, a classic but insanely diverse self-indulgent double album ( a la "The White Album"), "In Search of the Eternal Buzz", as well as "A Keg of The Beers-The Definitive Boxed Set", during this time.
In January 1993, Jim Bender returned to St. Louis and by March, The Beers (Trower & Bender) had recorded a studio demo EP in Collinsville, IL called "No School Tomorrow". The release landed The Beers a series of gigs that has become known as the 1993 Beers Tour.
The newly-reformed Beers kicked off the tour with a triumphant return to the newly-reopened Bernard Pub. A video and live album were released from that show. A hired gun named Paul Bernardini supplied 5-string fretless bass for the gig. Paul then moved to Florida and was replaced by working musician Jim Cady (of The 3 C's, Fuzztone, B.L.O.G. aka Bitter Lonely Old Guys, & now The Usual Suspects, etc.).
The Beers then headlined at Bastille's, put on a stunning performance at Cummel's Cafe (despite a near fatal car accident en route to the gig), played as the sole act of the evening at the Wabash Café (3 weeks before it burned down), played at Kennedy's (voted the #2 best place to see a live band and the #1 hippest place to be seen!) and played a second Bernard gig (with a very special guest in the audience: Shane Griffin!)
Shane was so impressed by what he saw that he rejoined the band!
The Beers then appeared live on the #1 Morning Show In St. Louis, so-called "Shock Jocks" Steve and DC's infamous show on Q104FM (St. Louis version of Howard Stern) as well as many more gigs.
In Sept. 1993, the demo Trower & Wilson had been working on, "A Taste of The Beers" was finally released. The tape received airplay on St. Louis radio stations The Point, KDHX, and KYMC as well as articles and reviews in The Riverfront Times, Spotlight Magazine, and The Midwest Music Review. This was also the first Beers release to be available in local record stores.
In May 1994, Adam Levi (of The Richmond Heights Playboys fame) joined The Beers as lead singer. The Beers then became a 5 piece and finally had a confident front-man with arguably more powerful vocals. Levi passed a vocal audition over Dr. Mike Horowitz, a podiatrist whose vocals literally blew everyone away as Bender maintained Levi meshed with the other Beers better personality-wise. This was certainly true.
After 2 months of rehearsals with the new singer, The Beers embarked on a triumphant and hectic tour that took them through the remainder of 1994. Gigs included headlining appearances at The Bernard Pub, a second live appearance on Q104FM's Steve & DC Show, a high profile Battle of the Bands at Upper Deck, high profile gigs at The Other World and Kennedys, as well as gigs at The Red Sea, Bastille's, Dave's World Famous and The Stress Center (last Beers gig with Trower).
The highlight of the tour, though, was a headlining show at Westport Plaza for the annual National Kidney Foundation Chili Cook-off. Bands of the caliber of The Nothing Dream were forced to open up, while The Beers took the huge main stage for the Grand Finale. The sun even came out on what had been a rainy day just as The Beers took the stage. The 5,000 people in attendance just went nuts for The Beers and, after-wards, the band even sold out of t-shirts!!
In December 1994, Trower either quit or was fired from The Beers, depending on who you ask & how much they've had to drink.
A studio demo called "Puddin' Gone Sour" was recorded in January 1995 with a Levi crony called Rob Skeel more than aptly replacing Trower on guitar.
In June '95, Adam Levi left the band shortly before the tragic death of his brother, who left a widow who happened to be, in a crazy twist, a relative of Trower!
Shortly thereafter, Griffin quit the band after a stolen guitar & a stint in rehab.
2 medical doctors who used to be in "Body Found" joined the band. The name was changed to "Why Things Burn". In January 1996, Bender was released from Why Things Burn. (Whether he quit or was fired probably depends again on who you ask & how much they've had to drink so Why He was Burned is an open question)
Why Things Burn replaced him with the old "Body Found" drummer and changed the name to (what else?) "Body Found."
Meanwhile, in late 1995, a version of The Beers reunited for a possible overseas military tour. This so-called "version" of The Beers ended up being Jim Cady (bass), Jim Bender (drums), and 3 guys from Cady's old band Fuzztone. This lineup played a gig at Bernard Pub and fizzled out.
John Trower (who went on an egotistical & ridiculous acoustic solo open mic night coffee house type tour in 1995) started collaborating with Evan Wilson again in 1996. It was thought for a few years in the late '90s that this version of the band might resurface but this never came to be.
Adam Levi resurfaced in late 1996 with a cover band called Shrinking Violets who played countless gigs at Harry's and Ice & Fuel West.
With the rise of the Internet in the late 90's, The Beers established an online presence in the form of this website as well as sites on Myspace and Youtube. The definitive Beers CD, "The Beers Hotel" was released via the old mp3.com. This masterpiece, hailed by critics as nothing less than "The First Rock and Roll Masterpiece of the Next Thousand Years", still stands as The Beers crowning achievement but is out of print for boring legal reasons now. An alternate CD called "A Taste of The Beers" (which is decent but not as classic) is still available on iTunes and CD Baby. Also, in 1994, an updated & expanded DVD version of the Rockumentary "The Brewing of The Beers" was released with highlights of it also released online.
Around the time of The Great Recession of 2008, financial issues caused Trower to sell all of his beloved musical instruments & it wasn't until 2014 that he was able to more or less replace these instruments & even branch out to some new ones such as the bluegrass instruments Mountain Dulcimer & Mandolin and the Hawaii ukulele!!
The latest rumor is there could be a future Beers reunion with a lineup similar to Adam Levi (vocals), Shane Griffin & Rob Skeel (guitar), Jim Cady (bass & backing vocals), Jim Bender (drums) & possibly even John Trower as Manager/Producer/Overall Architect...