Brook Benton Biography

Benjamin Franklin Peay, 19 September 1931, Camden, South Carolina, USA, d. 9 April 1988, New York City, New York, USA. A stylish, mellifluent singer, Benton’s most ascendant period was the late 50s/early 60s. Although he began recording in 1953, Benton’s first major hit came in 1959 on forging a songwriting partnership with Clyde Otis and Belford Hendricks. ‘It’s Just A Matter Of Time’ reached the US Top 3 and introduced a remarkable string of successes, including ‘So Many Ways’ (1959), ‘The Boll Weevil Song’ (1961) and ‘Hotel Happiness’ (1962). Duets with Dinah Washington, ‘Baby (You’ve Got What It Takes)’, a million-seller, and ‘A Rockin’ Good Way (To Mess Around And Fall In Love)’, topped the R&B listings in 1960. Benton’s warm, resonant delivery continued to prove popular into the early 60s. A versatile vocalist, his releases encompassed standards, blues and spirituals, while his compositions were recorded by Nat ‘King’ Cole, Clyde McPhatter and Roy Hamilton. Brook remained signed to the Mercury Records label until 1964 before moving to RCA Records, then Reprise Records. Releases on these labels failed to recapture the artist’s previous success, but by the end of the decade, Benton rose to the challenge of younger acts with a series of excellent recordings for Atlantic Records’ Cotillion subsidiary. His languid, atmospheric version of ‘Rainy Night In Georgia’ (1970) was an international hit and the most memorable product of an artistically fruitful period. Benton continued to record for a myriad of outlets during the 70s, including Brut (owned by the perfume company), Stax Records and MGM Records. Although his later work was less incisive, the artist remained one of music’s top live attractions. He died in April 1988, aged 56, succumbing to pneumonia while weakened by spinal meningitis.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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