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God's Gift of Music: Brook Benton

Updated: Nov 3, 2022

Video from Chance B

As a boomer born in 1956 I grew up listening to great singers like Brook Benton. Brook Benton died 27 years ago on April 9, 1988 at the age of 56 due to complications from spinal meningitis. For me and I am sure for others his singing was soothing, like all music a transcendent experience we cannot put into words. I hope you enjoy this look back. - Andy

Biography Brook Benton

'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." from the website:

Brook Benton Performs 3 Major Hits Live 1983

Video from uiticus

"The legendary Brook Benton singing 3 songs live on stage in 1983. The Bole Weevil song, Thank you pretty baby, and Rainy night in Georgia." from video introduction

Brook Benton - Rainy Night In Georgia - Live 1971

Video from a. presotopi

Artist Biography: Brook Benton


Brook Benton (1931-1988) was a prolific and successful R&B/pop/soul/rock and roll singer-songwriter who amassed several R&B as well as pop chart hits particularly from the late 50s to early 60s music era, although he also scored sizable hits up to the 1970s. He wrote or co-wrote many of his big hits (most of them with Clyde Otis) including “It’s Just a Matter of Time,” “The Boll Weevil Song,” “Hotel Happiness,” and “Rainy Night in Georgia.” More on the talented Brook Benton here in this article!

Early life and career

Brook Benton was born Benjamin Franklin Peay in Lugoff, southern California on September 19, 1931. His Methodist upbringing led him to be exposed to gospel music. It is little wonder because his father was a choir master at their local church, where he was also a member. Soon, the young boy also learned to write his own songs.

Peay joined several gospel groups during his stay in New York. On his return to his home state he got to encounter secular music for the first time by joining an R&B vocal group named The Sandmen. Then Peay and the rest of the Sandmen made their journey again to New York in hopes of getting a big break. But after releasing a handful of singles on Okeh Records, the group failed to gain any success. That prodded Peay to embark on a solo career. Okeh’s A&R man Marv Halsman suggested that Peay should change his name to Brook Benton, an advice which the upstarting singer-songwriter followed.

Brook Benton’s success at Mercury

Brook Benton started his career anew by penning songs for other artists such as Nat King Cole, Clyde McPhatter, and Roy Hamilton. He also had a hand in co-producing albums.

As a solo recording artist, Benton enjoyed a minor pop hit through his first single “Million Miles from Nowhere,” before he switched to Mercury label.." from the article: Artist Biography: Brook Benton

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