George Benson (born March 22, 1943) is an American musician, guitarist, and singer-songwriter. He began his professional career at 21 as a jazz guitarist. Benson uses a rest-stroke picking technique similar to that of gypsy jazz players such as Django Reinhardt.
A former child prodigy, Benson first came to prominence in the 1960s, playing soul jazz with Jack McDuff and others. He then launched a successful solo career, alternating between jazz, pop, R&B singing, and scat singing. His album Breezin' was certified triple-platinum, hitting no. 1 on the Billboard album chart in 1976. His concerts were well attended through the 1980s, and he still has a large following. Benson has been honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Benson was born and raised in the Hill District in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. At the age of seven, he first played the ukulele in a corner drug store, for which he was paid a few dollars. At the age of eight, he played guitar in an unlicensed nightclub on Friday and Saturday nights, but the police soon closed the club down. At the age of 9, he started to record. Out of the four sides he cut, two were released: "She Makes Me Mad" backed with "It Should Have Been Me", with RCA-Victor in New York; although one source indicates this record was released under the name "Little Georgie",while the 45rpm label is printed with the name George Benson.The single was produced by Leroy Kirkland for RCA's rhythm and blues label, Groove Records. As he has stated in an interview, Benson's introduction to showbusiness had an effect on his schooling. When this was discovered (tied with the failure of his single) his guitar was impounded. Luckily, after he spent time in a juvenile detention centre his stepfather made him a new guitar.*
Benson attended and graduated from Schenley High School. As a youth he learned how to play straight-ahead instrumental jazz during a relationship performing for several years with organist Jack McDuff. One of his many early guitar heroes was country-jazz guitarist Hank Garland. At the age of 21, he recorded his first album as leader, The New Boss Guitar, featuring McDuff. Benson's next recording was It's Uptown with the George Benson Quartet, including Lonnie Smith on organ and Ronnie Cuber on baritone saxophone. Benson followed it up with The George Benson Cookbook, also with Lonnie Smith and Ronnie Cuber on baritone and drummer Marion Booker. Miles Davis employed Benson in the mid-1960s, featuring his guitar on "Paraphernalia" on his 1968 Columbia release, Miles in the Sky before going to Verve Records.
Benson then signed with Creed Taylor's jazz label CTI Records, where he recorded several albums, with jazz heavyweights guesting, to some success, mainly in the jazz field. His 1974 release, Bad Benson, climbed to the top spot in the Billboard jazz chart, while the follow-ups, Good King Bad (#51 Pop album) and Benson and Farrell (with Joe Farrell), both reached the jazz top-three sellers. Benson also did a version of The Beatles's 1969 album Abbey Road called The Other Side of Abbey Road, also released in 1969, and a version of "White Rabbit", originally written and recorded by San Francisco rock group Great Society, and made famous by Jefferson Airplane. Benson played on numerous sessions for other CTI artists during this time, including Freddie Hubbard and Stanley Turrentine, notably on the latter's acclaimed album Sugar.
1970s and 1980s
By the mid-to-late 1970s, as he recorded for Warner Bros. Records, a whole new audience began to discover Benson. With the 1976 release Breezin', Benson sang a lead vocal on the track "This Masquerade" (notable also for the lush, romantic piano intro and solo by Jorge Dalto), which became a huge pop hit and won a Grammy Award for Record of the Year. (He had sung vocals infrequently on albums earlier in his career, notably his rendition of "Here Comes the Sun" on the Other Side of Abbey Road album.) The rest of the album is instrumental, including his rendition of the 1975 Jose Feliciano composition "Affirmation".
"Nothing's Gonna Change My Love for You" is a song written by composers Michael Masser and Gerry Goffin. It was originally recorded in 1984 by American singer and guitarist George Benson, and released in 1985 on his studio album 20/20, by Warner Bros. Records. This original version was produced by its own author Michael Masser, and was released as a single only in Europe in 1985. The song was not released as a single in the United States, but nevertheless, Benson recorded two video clips in the U.S. the same year, which were displayed on television programs. Two years later, the song became even more well known for a re-recording by Hawaiian singer Glenn Medeiros, whose 1987 cover eventually topped the charts in several countries.
Disclaimer: I do not own the copyright to this recording. This video is for historical and educational purposes only.