Benjamin Franklin Peay, 19 September 1931, Camden, South Carolina, USA, d. 9 April 1988, New York City, New York, USA. A stylish, mellifluent singer, Bentons most ascendant period was the late 50s/early 60s. Although he began recording in 1953, Bentons first major hit came in 1959 on forging a songwriting partnership with Clyde Otis and Belford Hendricks. Its 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 (Youve 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. Bentons 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 artists 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 musics 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.