Benny Benjamin

Soulful Detroit Forum: Open Forum: Benny Benjamin
Top of pageBottom of page   By Bradburger (172.180.204.207 - 172.180.204.207) on Saturday, March 09, 2002 - 09:56 am:

First up I just want to say what a great forum. So many famous names!

I was just wondering if the likes of Ralph Terrana,Bob Babbitt and Dennis Coffey and any other people involved at Hitsville have any memories and stories they can share about my favorate Funk Brother, Benny Benjamin.

To me him & Jamerson really set the groove (thinking of Uptight & It's The Same Old Song) and some of his bass patterns were worth listening to on their own IMHO. There was just something about his feel that nobody seem to match. Thats not to say I don't enjoy listening to the likes of Uriel Jones, Pistol Allen & Andrew Smith!

I found an article on the web once about him (you can view it here: http://www.intermusic.com/article.asp?ReviewId=154&ArticleTable=Features&FeatureType=ART&Channel=DRM)

I found the piece by Mary Wilson most amusing.Apparently he had a pock-marked face and to here disgust would occasionally appear to pull glass fragments from it claiming they were embedded from a car crash!

Jugging from the article and other stories it would seem he was a bit of a character.

Look forward to some stories.

Cheers

Paul

Top of pageBottom of page   By Dennis Coffey (64.12.97.11 - 64.12.97.11) on Saturday, March 09, 2002 - 02:02 pm:

Hi Paul. The one and only time I worked with Benny was at a late night session at Golden World. Benny was almost nodding out against the back wall of the studio as he played drums. I was surpized because Benny was still a hell of a pocket player and never missed a beat that night. The last time I saw Benny, I was at a session at Hitsville. During the break we went next store to Coles funeral home to pay our respects. It was very sad. A lot of the Funk Brothers knew Benny better than I did and I could see how bad they felt. We were all left to our own thoughts as we went back to finish the session.

Dennis Coffey

Top of pageBottom of page   By cl (204.38.7.38 - 204.38.7.38) on Saturday, March 09, 2002 - 06:45 pm:

It is unfortunate that his legacy is not more honored. But I must say I found this link you posted to be demeaning.

It is clear he had a substance problem. But it is his drumming that made him special; why focus on his alcohol problems? There are countless people with alcohol problems _______ none played drums like Benny Benjamin.

As a drummer and a musical history buff I am pissed that so many other drummers have been elevated to " icon" status yet Benjamin is not.Especially since he created a style and played better than most.

Of course I know here on this forum that he is appreciated .

Top of pageBottom of page   By david, glasgow, scotland (213.107.27.25 - 213.107.27.25) on Saturday, March 09, 2002 - 06:58 pm:

hi cl

although i am not a musician, i am aware that the interaction between bass and drums is vital to the success of a record (musicians please correct me if i'm wrong).

if so, i would have thought that benny benjamin should be lauded as often as james is.

any thoughts experts?

Top of pageBottom of page   By Bob Olhsson (68.53.120.100 - 68.53.120.100) on Saturday, March 09, 2002 - 09:29 pm:

By the time I got out of the disk lathe room, Benny had passed away so I had no direct experience with him other than mixing some of the 8 track tapes he had played on. I went away from that experience convinced that Benny was the real key to the compelling excitement of Motown in the mid '60s. When you muted his drum track the whole thing would often fall completely to pieces.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Dennis Coffey (152.163.194.189 - 152.163.194.189) on Sunday, March 10, 2002 - 04:48 am:

Hey Cl. I didn't say anything about any substance abuse. Benny could have just been tired. You brought that up. I didn't know Benny well enough to comment on that. We worked late hours in those days.

Dennis Coffey

Top of pageBottom of page   By Ritchie (62.254.0.6 - 62.254.0.6) on Sunday, March 10, 2002 - 11:23 am:

Hi guys

I just took a look at the Benny Benjamin story linked from the first posting on this thread - and wish I hadn't bothered. It's one of the (sadly all-too-frequent nowadays) iconoclast "let's destroy the memory of..." stories, a tabloid-journalism exposé which denigrates its helpless subject.

The author - Les Woodland - begins his piece by telling us, "he was a brilliant drummer" then attempts to prove time after time what a wasted talent Benny was, throwing insult after insult, in some rather smug if vaguely apologetic manner.

I'm not so starry-eyed as to believe everyone was perfect and "wunnerful." Maybe he was a flawed character, but how many "perfect" human beings are reading this posting at this moment? Benny and Jamerson were the backbone and the engine of the Motown sound, and Benny's talents deserve to be celebrated, not belittled, whatever his faults may or may not have been.

Another point - he's openly disparaging about "Motown recording standards" - which were arguably among the highest in the industry at the time. As a final insult, when I visited the page, Benny's picture appears to be a long-shot of the Jackson Five.

Deceased legends make very easy targets for snipers (e.g. Tammi Terrell, David Ruffin.....) The whole piece did nothing for me - except make me want to leap to Benny's defence. We go on at length on this Forum about the lack of recognition accorded to the Funks - and this kind of retrospective Benny-bashing really doesn't help "the cause", in my opinion.

Top of pageBottom of page   By phillysoulman (152.163.197.56 - 152.163.197.56) on Sunday, March 10, 2002 - 11:45 am:

Well said Richie. WhenI read it I too felt like hopping on a pane and putting out a search party for this mindless idiot!! What a thing to say about a hero to us all and to many.
I am not a violent person but that article enraged mr to no end. And the "photo"??
Nuff said!!

Eli

Top of pageBottom of page   By soulboy (213.105.229.42 - 213.105.229.42) on Sunday, March 10, 2002 - 11:49 am:

Ritchie

I agree entirely with what you say. the article portrayed Benjamin and Motown in a negative light.
Despite Benny's problems, his achievements are in need of some serious recognition by everyone.
There have records throughout the 90S that have used Benny's drum rolls as samples (i'm sure). There are a lot of people still out there that appreciate his talent without really knowing his name.
We can only hope that the "standing in the shadows" film finaly gives this guy some long overdue credit.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Dennis Coffey (152.163.194.192 - 152.163.194.192) on Sunday, March 10, 2002 - 04:05 pm:

Hi folks. Those of us who lived the life of a musician know too well that it is the only job where you are encouraged to drink and offered all kinds of things on the job. The bar owners of the past liked nothing better then to have your bar bill be larger than your salary. Musicians have always gotten the short end of the stick. The music was created by individual people. Almost all of the musicians I worked with were great personalities and fun to be around. I think their artistry and skill is far more important than any problems they may have had. I do not know of many musicians who died rich unless they were super stars. The rank and file studio guys had high money times and times when no one remembered who they were. Any musician deserves all of the fame and fortune they can get.

Dennis Coffey

Top of pageBottom of page   By cl (204.38.7.38 - 204.38.7.38) on Sunday, March 10, 2002 - 07:55 pm:

Hey Mr. Coffey, I was not refering to you in any way; I was refering to the posted link/article about Benjamin.

Thrilled to see you here on the forum. I distinctly remember many years ago my neighbor playing one of your records and being very much enamored of it.

How about giving us some of your early influences and how you began playing guitar?

Top of pageBottom of page   By cl (204.38.7.38 - 204.38.7.38) on Sunday, March 10, 2002 - 08:07 pm:

Hey David, You ask a good question. I suppose there are many theories about bass and drum interaction, but it is essential that they both be listening to the other.

But in many cases I think it is just serendipity or intangibles that are so enchanting.

Who could have predicted the impact on peoples emotion and spirit that motown and other soul music had?

What I am saying is you could take the very same songs with equally skilled musicians and record them elsewhere and they would sound drasticaaly different. Why?.......Nobody knows!!

And certainly Burt Bacharach recorded differently than motown as did stax-volt; yet they had a magical sound too.

I think the common element is that it was all done way before the advent of digital technology . It was much more creative and organic. If a certain sound effect was needed it was up to the musician and engineer to be creative and come up with an idea; now it is all digital but not the same.

My suggestion to all who love the sound of this music, dust off your turntables and tube amps, get out your records and listen to the music and hear the difference.

Top of pageBottom of page   By david, glasgow, scotland (213.107.27.25 - 213.107.27.25) on Sunday, March 10, 2002 - 09:23 pm:

hi cl.

i almost left a message for dennis that i thought you were aiming your point to the link.

unfortunately if you are new to this software it can look like you are talking to the person directly above you...as was the case here.

Top of pageBottom of page   By Dennis Coffey (205.188.200.192 - 205.188.200.192) on Monday, March 11, 2002 - 12:28 am:

Hi Cl. I listened and learned from Hank Williams to Jimmy Reed to Chuck Berry to Scotti Moore (Elvis's first guitarist) to B.B King. I also learned from and got to hang a little bit with Wes Montgomery and went over to Joe Pass's house when I lived in LA. I also used James Burton (Rickie Nelson's and Elvis's second guitarist) on a session in LA and played a session in New York with Billy Butler (Bill Doggett's guitarist.) They were all great! I also learned much from the musicians in all of the cities I played in.

Dennis Coffey

Top of pageBottom of page   By cl (152.163.207.83 - 152.163.207.83) on Monday, March 11, 2002 - 05:29 am:

Billy Butler!!! I think he is my favorite as he had such a swinging style!! And I don't think there are many young players who know about Billy Butler; they should!!

You aint bad either!! What guitars do you own now?

Top of pageBottom of page   By Bob Olhsson (68.53.120.100 - 68.53.120.100) on Monday, March 11, 2002 - 05:14 pm:

An interesting thing to me was that the relationship between Benny and Jamerson seemed very different than the relationship between Jamerson's playing and the other drummers. The players had to depend more on each other for a groove with Jack Ashford's tambourine and Eddie Bongo providing the glue rather than Benny's drums. I suspect playing without Benny demanded a lot more from the musicians.

It would be interesting to hear the tapes today to see if my memories about this hold up. It's hard to judge this kind of thing from just the final mixes. I'd also be curious about Jack Ashford's observations about the change in chemistry after Benny was no longer playing.

This all ought to be part of an ensemble playing 101 class in music school!

Top of pageBottom of page   By Dennis Coffey (206.47.172.178 - 206.47.172.178) on Tuesday, March 12, 2002 - 12:12 am:

Hey CL. I still have my Gibson Firebird, my Gibson Byrdland and a Gibson 345 and 335. I also have a Hondo acoustic and Washburn classical electric.

Dennis Coffey

Top of pageBottom of page   By drums (208.251.209.82 - 208.251.209.82) on Thursday, March 14, 2002 - 06:48 pm:

Hello out there!

I am irritated at the writer of that piece for treating Benny in that manner. Even if he had substance abuse problems or spoke his opinions regarding the other musicians and singers in the "pit", Benny and all of the other musicians down there deserve admiration for what they did which is create music that defined a generation!!

Also get your drum fills correct! Benny used the 16th note fill on the and of 4! (Listen to My Girl, by the Tempts!)

The fill that the writer is talking about was used by "Pistol" Pete Allen!

Drummers know the fills used by other drummers, just like guitarists "know" the licks of other guitarists et. al.

I am going to end this by saying to the writer of that piece, if you havent walked in Benny's shoes dont judge!!

Shame on him!

Daren Metz
Noble & Cooley

Top of pageBottom of page   By drums (208.251.209.82 - 208.251.209.82) on Thursday, March 14, 2002 - 06:52 pm:

And another thing :)

The drummer in that picture with the Jackson 5 is Johnie Jackson, not Bennie Benjamin!

DM

Top of pageBottom of page   By MIKE TERRY (152.163.197.51 - 152.163.197.51) on Thursday, March 14, 2002 - 08:47 pm:

I WOULD LIKE TO SAY BENNY WAS THE MOST LIKEABLE PERSON IN THE FUNK BROTHERS. WE'RE ARE NOT HERE TO JUDGE ONES HABITS.WE ALL HAVE GOOD AND BAD HABITS.WHAT WE ARE TALKING ABOUT IS PLAYING YOUR INSTRUMENT.THIS IS WHAT THE WORLD HEARD...BENNY WAS THE "FIRST"MAIN INFLUNCE OF THE MOTOWN GROOVE.HIS PICKUP IS UNIVERSALLY KNOWN. HE KNEW HOW TO PUT ANY SONG IN THE RIGHT GROOVE..THE SOUND IS ANOTHER THING...IN THIS MUSIC THE MOTOWN GROOVE WAS WHAT WAS DIFFERENT AND UNIQUE. AFTER BENNY LOCKED IN THAT GROOVE EVERYTHING ELSE FELL IN PLACE,BUT FIRST THAT IT STARTS WITH THATT GROOVE. THERE WERE A LOT OF OTHER DRUMMERS THAT TRIED TO DO THIS,BUT THE REST OF THE BAND COULD TELL THE DIFFERENCE.BENNY WAS ALWAYS THE FIRST CHOICE.LATER ON DOWN THE ROAD THERE WERE TWO DRUMMERS.THE SECOND WOULD PLAY LONGER PICKUPS AND WORK ON THE HIGH HAT. BENNY WOULD HOLD THAT GROOVE.THERE WRER MANY MANY MUSICIANS WHO WENT THROUGH THAT DOOR.I STARTED BEFORE SHOP AROUND WAS A HIT.BACK IN 1959 I STARTED TO WORK FOR MOTOWN SO I REALLY SAW IN ALL I WAS THERE BEFORE JAMES I THINK.BENNY WAS THE ONE EVERYONE STOLE FROM. THAT'S ALL THE DRUMMERS WHO FOLLOWED AFTER AND WITH HIM.YOU HAVE TO HAVE BEEN THER TO SAY THIS..HE COULD PLAY ANY STYLE,AND HE WAS SO MUCH FUN.I'LL ALWAYS LOVE AND MISS HIM.HE HELPED ME GET A LOT OF CONFIDENCE IN MY PLAYING.THAT'S WHY YOU'LL HEAR MY BARI ON SO MANY TRACKS.I HATED TO LEAVE BUT I HAD NO CHOICE.IT WAS A MATTER OF SURVIAL...ONCE CERTAIN SOUNDS A MISSING YOU NO LONGER HAVE THAT SOUND. GOD BLESS BENNY.......SO LONG MIKE TERRY!!!!!

Top of pageBottom of page   By Who Knew (205.188.199.49 - 205.188.199.49) on Thursday, March 14, 2002 - 08:54 pm:

It was RICHARD "Pistol" Allen,not "pistol" Pete

Top of pageBottom of page   By drums (208.251.209.82 - 208.251.209.82) on Thursday, March 14, 2002 - 08:59 pm:

Oops! I knew that!! I'm half a sleep typing these!

DM

Top of pageBottom of page   By Ritchie (62.254.0.6 - 62.254.0.6) on Thursday, March 14, 2002 - 09:04 pm:

Mike Terry

Well said. I guess everyone here feels the same way about that article. If it was on paper it would be in my trash now, where it belongs.

Come back soon, please.

Top of pageBottom of page   By John Lester (213.1.134.67 - 213.1.134.67) on Thursday, March 14, 2002 - 10:10 pm:

Mike Terry....dont go...come back....

You KNOW that we want you here!!

Top of pageBottom of page   By acooolcat (211.78.0.219 - 211.78.0.219) on Friday, March 15, 2002 - 04:50 am:

When Bennie's name came up during a conversation I had with Theresa Lindsey she just broke out in a broad smile - I think that says a lot about the kind of warm guy Benny was.
She went on to say he was always trying to get her to sing latin songs - appartly he loved the latin style.
Best wishes, Graham

Top of pageBottom of page   By acooolcat (61.222.95.58 - 61.222.95.58) on Friday, March 29, 2002 - 11:59 am:

I remember seeing "Bennie Benjamin Music" on one of the early Golden World 45s - but can't remember which one. Does that sound familiar to anyone? I think he's listed as the songwriter too
Graham

Top of pageBottom of page   By John Lester (213.122.204.40 - 213.122.204.40) on Friday, March 29, 2002 - 12:12 pm:

Graham

I seem to recall noticing that too but I can't find it and I just checked out a few possibilities.

Hmmm...

Top of pageBottom of page   By Ian W (213.122.120.216 - 213.122.120.216) on Friday, March 29, 2002 - 04:50 pm:

Graham & John

I found it! It's:

Ric-Tic 103 (GW 1005/6) - Barbara De Costa - Now I Know/The One In Your Arms

Both sides published by Ben Benjamin Music, Inc. and he's down as co-writer with Sol Marcus on the B-side).

Top of pageBottom of page   By John Lester (213.1.129.243 - 213.1.129.243) on Friday, March 29, 2002 - 06:54 pm:

Well done Ian

(JL shouts out loud - RIXY - HAVE YOU MISFILED MY RECORDS...WHERE ARE YOU!!!)


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