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MY GUITAR HEROES – GEORGE BENSON

dennis

August 8th, 2015

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MY GUITAR HEROES – GEORGE BENSON
I first saw George Benson play guitar in Wildwood on the Jersey Shore. I was playing that summer with the Royaltones at Bay Shores in Somer’s Point, NJ. George was still in his teens and playing with jazz organist Jack McDuff. I was in my early twenties and liked the way he played. When George started recording under his own name, I bought some of his albums. Like Wes Montgomery, he brought a funky guitar sound to jazz.
A few years later back in Detroit, I got the call from Clarence Baker, the owner of Baker’s Keyboard Lounge who introduced me to organist “Groove” Holmes. “Groove” wanted to hire me to go on the road with him. I was still in my twenties but had to say no because I was raising kids at home was making a good living recording and playing in clubs in Detroit. I would have learned a lot about playing jazz on that gig but got to play jazz for three years in Detroit with organist Lyman Woodard and drummer Melvin Davis.
By the 1970s, when George Benson recorded for Warner Bros. Records, he reached a new audience when he sang a lead vocal on one of his album tracks “This Masquerade”, which became a huge pop hit and won a Grammy Award for Record of the Year. The rest of the album was instrumental, including his rendition of the 1975 Jose Feliciano composition “Affirmation”. His album “Breezin′ was also a significant album in terms of popular music history – the first jazz release to go platinum.

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