Drew Berlin

Drew (circled) in Andy & The Ascots, 1963

Drew Berlin has always been renowned for his ability to locate the most sought-after vintage guitars, a passion of his beginning in childhood. Drew has been traveling the country since the 1960s buying, collecting, and playing vintage guitars.

Drew spent his childhood in Tennessee, where he was influenced to pursue being a guitarist and singer-songwriter after hearing and watching the performances of artists such as Elvis, Chuck Berry, and the Beatles. Drew’s first band was formed in 1963 as Andy & The Ascots, followed by The Nomads in 1964.

In the 1960s when guitars became much more popular thanks to bands like the Beatles, Drew found himself as the go-to person for others looking for assistance in finding guitars and amps. Drew not only loved playing guitar, but had a knack for finding and understanding them. His passion turned into an obsession, and Drew felt he needed to know every detail about every guitar.

Drew (left) in The Nomads, 1964

Hollywood, CA – December 1969 – Whisky A Go Go – The New Society Band’s first gig opening for Little Richard

Later moving to Miami, Drew formed several bands, notably The New Society Band, which became an opening local act band for artists such as the Jeff Beck Group (with Rod Stewart and Ron Wood), the Grateful Dead, the Young Rascals, Rare Earth, and Taj Mahal.

Attending Miami Dade Junior College as a music student, he met rock & roll legend Little Richard, who took Drew’s entire band on the road as his opening act. Being on the road and traveling around the country, Drew was able to go to music stores and pawn shops in every town the band went to, and took up the challenge to see what guitars he could find. Because the band was making decent money, Drew spent all his available funds on old guitars for his collection. He was greatly interested in seeing what different instruments sounded like on stage, which instruments would stay in tune, and which would be versatile enough to use in a show. Drew moved to Los Angeles as Little Richard’s occasional guitar player, a role that lasted on-and-off for more than 20 years.

After accumulating so many guitars, Drew again found himself as the go-to “guitar guy” for other musicians. Knowing details about his different instruments, he found enjoyment in simply putting the perfect guitar in another person’s hands, selling to many individuals but without concern for making profit. Along the way, Drew also still kept the guitars that worked well for him.

Drew with the legendary Little Richard after a gig

Freestone, San Francisco 1977

Golden Gate Park, San Francisco, 1978 – Freestone opening for Jefferson Starship

Drew then moved to the San Francisco Bay area to form the band Freestone, which gained a following among local college students for the group’s unique, original material. The group’s music pre-dated the punk movement but in later years was included in that category and the group’s single is now a highly desirable item among punk collectors worldwide.

Returning to his roots in Florida, Drew was a founding member of the Ft. Lauderdale-based “power pop” group the Rockerfellas, receiving local and national acclaim for their music. Their track “I Walk Alone” was featured on Jimmy Buffett’s compilation Margaritaville Cafe: Light Night Menu. However, the group was short-lived, and Drew returned to the road with Little Richard on the Legends of Rock Tour.

The Rockerfellas

Charles Connor & The Upsetters

Returning to Los Angeles in 1988, Drew was asked by Little Richard to produce and develop a song called “The Beginning of Rock and Roll” for Charles Connor, Little Richard’s original drummer. This began a long-term relationship between the two, with Drew consistently playing with and producing for the legendary drummer.

After moving to LA, Drew began repeatedly taking trips between Las Vegas, LA, and San Diego, stopping at any pawn shops and music stores in between to obtain gear. He began developing a database of sellers, and also used local newspapers as a way to search for guitars. To buy and sell guitars, Drew would attend local and national vintage guitar shows, where he had a booth as Pete & Andrew’s Guitars with friend Pete Quigley, and later, as House Rocker Vintage Guitars.

In 1988, Drew formed and produced an original band, Innocent Voice with Lonnie Robins and Ron Remo.

Innocent Voice

Hot Tin Roof

In 1990, Drew formed his band Hot Tin Roof, producing their self-titled album.

British pop sensation Lisa Dominique hired Drew as lead guitar player and co-writer for local and national tours. Drew continued with her through 1995. Their co-written song “Sensation” was a hit on college radio.

Lisa Dominique

In 1995, Drew was asked to develop a vintage guitar department for Guitar Center at their newly appointed “Vintage Guitar Room” on Sunset Blvd in Hollywood.

Some of Drew’s additional personal credits include an acting role as the “Guitar Guy” in IBM commercials throughout the late 1990s. Drew’s solo album, released in 1997, was entitled Burst. He produced the track “No Place Like Home” for Little Richard, and co-wrote and produced for Hot Tin Roof in 2005.

Drew backstage with Little Richard and Tatiana Thumbtzen at the BET Awards 1991

Big Kate Flannery

Today, Drew actively plays and records with local and national acts. He owns and operates Bamboo Recording Studio, producing the Michael Hart Band, Ebony Tay, Thorn, Them Howling Bones, Charles Connor (Little Richard’s original drummer), and Kate Flannery. Drew is currently working on a second solo album.

Drew’s 1997 solo album Burst, featuring Dave Belzer as lead guitar on the song “Out of Control”

Hot Tin Roof’s self-titled 2006 original album, songs written by Ben Blakemore and Drew Berlin

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