Tony Butala, of Croatian descent, is the founder (in 1960) and the lead singer of The Lettermen trio. It has existed for almost sixty years. Some of the best known songs interpreted by The Lettermen are such classics like "Put Your Head on My Shoulder", "When I Fall in Love", "Morning Girl", ...
Tony Butala keeps in contact with Croatian community in the USA. Also, he is a passionate winemaker. When Mike Grgich, probably the most famous American wine maker (and born in Croatia) was at the age of 90 (in 2013), he participated in the program of his anniversary with several Croatian songs, like Marijana and Tri palme na otoku sreće..
The Lettermen trio is even today very popular throughout the world. Except in the USA, they are very popular in Great Britain, Ireland and in the countries of Far East like Philippines and Japan.
Mr. Tony Butala is singing in English, Croatian, Spanish, Filipino, and in Japanese.
The Lettermen sing "More" on the Mike Douglas show, 1966
The Lettermen sing on The Toni Tennille Show of The Captain and Tennille
"Going Out of My Head / Can't Take My Eyes off You" in 1968, TV
The Lettermen "Sealed With A Kiss".
The Lettermen - Mark Preston, Donovan Tea and Tony Butala, sing one of the most popular Lettermen hits. This song is one of the best selling Lettermen songs, especially in the Far East.
The Lettermen: Tony Butala on the right, Jim Pike on the left, and Bob Engemann
"Dahil Sa Iyo" the most popular Philipino song sung by The Lettermen on the Philippines
Tony Butala earned a special recoginition from the NFCA (National Federation of Croatian Americans), New York. On the left of Tony Butala is Steve Rukavina, the president of NFCA.
'The Lettermen' back in Manila for concert at Big Dome
By REYMA BUAN-DEVEZA, Manila, Phillipines, 2008
America's famous pop music vocal group The Lettermen is back in Manila for another wonderful concert.
In an exclusive interview with abs-cbnNEWS.com, members of the Lettermen Tony Butala, Donovan Tea and Mark Preston talked about their concert that will be held at Araneta Coliseum, July 3, Thursday at 8 p.m.
"Our concert tomorrow at the Araneta Coliseum will be a little different than last year and little bit different from year before. We are trying to change our show by maybe 20% each year to keep some new songs in but also we have to make sure [we include] the old songs, too," Butala, the founder of the popular group said.
Butala said that they consider their show as a delicate one. He said that they need to balance their program since it's relatively long--running for almost two hours.
In the concert, The Lettermen members will do solo performances. They will condense the hit records into medleys.
"It's a new thing we always include songs in Tagalog, we invite the people up on stage to take pictures with us... we encourage people to come up take pictures with us," Tea added.
For this year, The Lettermen's concert will be more special since they will be performing with Pat Upton from the Spiral Staircase.
The trio shared that Philippines is one of their favorite countries--they love visiting and performing here.
"We love the weather, this is the first time that we'd been here this particular time of year. It's wonderful to come over here when it's freezing back in the United States. We love the people because they are all so friendly, you just feel like they are family and we love the food," Tea said.
Aside from their upcoming concert in the country the group is also busy promoting their latest albums.
The Lettermen just finished recording their latest album "The Lettermen Live in The Philippines" from their last year's concert. The album is now available nationwide.
"We just released the 76th album "Lettermen Best of Broadway" and another is the "Lettermen Favorites." So really in the last eight or nine months we released three news album," Mark Preston said.
Batula said they are trying to finding ways on how to release their "Lettermen Best of Broadway" CD here in the Philippines. Tea, however, said that all of their albums are now available either thru the Lettermen web site www.thelettermen.com or you can find it on iTunes.
The Lettermen are the trio who popularized the hit "The Way You Look Tonight" in 1961. Then followed by another chart topper hit "When I Fall In Love."
The group loves to sing Tagalog songs, and have already their versions of "Dahil Sa Iyo, "Ikaw", "Hindi Kita Malimot" at "Sapagkat Kami ay Tao Lamang"; they are looking for new songs by a new generation of Filipino songwriters.
"We wanna do some Tagalog songs, that's one thing we are starting to work on," Batula replied when asked of what's the Lettermen's dream project.
"We would like to have [another hit record] I mean anything in the top 200, just one more. I don't know if that would happen but you know lightning does strike every once in a while and we are still recording, thinking and trying not to rest," Tea added.
"We'd like to have something that is our combination. I would like for this combination to have a shot with some kind of airplay on the charts... something on the top 200 or 100 whatever," Preston ended.
Many thanks to Violi Calvert for sending us this information
MORNING GIRL (Lyrics) - The Lettermen
Two legendary winemakers:
Mike Grgich (here at the age of 90!), the founder and proprietor of the Grgich Hills Company in California, the most famous winemaker in the USA, and Tony Butala.
"Only Friends" by The lettermen - lyrics
NFCA (National Federation of Croatian Americans) Reception Pittsburgh (Mt Washington), Pa. Steve Henforth, Peter Karlovich, Tony Butala, Ambassador (later President of the Republic of Croatia) Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic and Dario Mihelin (Croatian Embassy) - May 2010
"Love Me with All Your Heart" - The Lettermen (originally, Quando calienta el sol)