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Benny Mardones: The Conversation

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A Message from Benny

A message from Benny to you, please share this with everyone you know: For a man who has been told he has a gift for words, I find it strange to find myself speechless when I think about the outpouring of love and support I have received from you. I have been in the...

Bio

a little about me

Benny Mardones exploded onto the music scene in 1980

and was quickly nicknamed “The Voice,” a title earned because of his incredible range, as well as his soulful and passionate performance of “Into The Night.” The song became a radio classic across the country, topped the charts twice, and became one of the most frequently played tunes in radio history. It is estimated that the song has been played more than 4,500,000 times in the US alone.

Benny was born in Cleveland, Ohio and raised in Savage, Maryland. As a young boy, Benny saw Elvis Presley on the Ed Sullivan show, and made the decision to become a rock and roll singer. As a teenager, Benny formed his first group, singing at local high schools and colleges in the Maryland area.

In the Beginning

After a stint in the Navy during Vietnam, Benny moved to New York City where he met Joel Diamond, then President of CBS Publishing. At Joel’s suggestion that Benny try his hand at songwriting, Alan Miles co-wrote the song “Too Heavy To Carry” with Benny. Two weeks later, Brenda Lee recorded the song and Benny the songwriter was born.

American Bandstand

1980

Merv Griffin

1980

Landmark Theatre

1981

The Story Behind Into the Night

2012

Weekend Today

2013

Final Show

2017

The first seven songs penned by Benny and Alan Miles were recorded by various artists and the duo gained a reputation as “the new hot songwriters” in town. On many occasions Benny and Alan recorded demo versions of their songs. Benny sang and Alan accompanied him on piano. After hearing one of the demos, Tommy Mottola, then working for Joel Diamond, suggested that Benny sing his own songs. Joel felt the same way, and set out to find Benny a record deal. Within a few months White Whale Records, best known for the band The Turtles, released Benny and Alan Miles’ song “Stand and Be Counted.” Concerned that ‘Benny Mardones’ was not a good stage name, the record was released under the name ‘Troy.’

After some corporate shake-ups, Benny and Alan found themselves unemployed. Benny moved to Woodstock, New York with his friend DL Byron with whom he had started a band called Justice. In Woodstock, Benny met Richie Havens who was so impressed by Benny’s talent that he invited Benny on the road as his opening act. During the tour, at a rally in NYC, Benny came to the attention of legendary promoter Ron Delsener. Soon after, Blue Oyster Cult canceled as the opening band for Dave Mason and Peter Frampton, and Benny was asked at the last minute to open the show at Madison Square Garden.

A Journey Through Time

Thank God for Girls

Benny’s New York appearances brought him to the attention of Andrew Loog Oldham, who had produced the first seventeen Rolling Stones records, and Larry Utall, President of Private Stock Records (the original home of Blondie). Benny signed to Private Stock and the record “Thank God For Girls” was released in 1979.

Never Run, Never Hide

Private Stock folded not long after the record’s release. Benny’s friend, Bill McGathy, (now one of Benny’s closest friends and confidants as well as Michael Everetts godfather) had just taken over as the head of National Promotions at Polydor Records. Through Bill’s efforts, Benny was eventually signed by Polydor. With his new writing partner Bobby Tepper, Benny put together a collection of songs that far surpassed his earlier work.

Together with producer and friend Barry Mraz (Styx, Ohio Players), Benny recorded the album “Never Run, Never Hide.” The record included “Into The Night,” which became a number one record on the CHR and AC charts. Despite his professional success, Benny’s personal life was at an all time low. He found himself battling the demons of drug addiction, and discontinued all concert performances, recordings, and appearances. To the rest of the world, it seemed Benny Mardones had fallen off the face of the earth.

Too Much to Lose

After numerous personnel changes at Polydor, Benny released his next album, “Too Much To Lose.” Benny’s drug problems, coupled with Polydor’s financial problems were too much, and the album was a huge disappointment. Benny sunk even deeper into seclusion.

Unauthorized & American Dreams

Benny disappeared everywhere – everywhere, that is, but Syracuse, NY. With the help of fans like Tommy Nast, then program director at local station 94 Rock, Benny’s music was constantly on the air in Syracuse. In 1983, he played a legendary concert at Longbranch Park with more than 10,000 people in attendance. BennyMania took hold in upstate New York. In 1985, Benny played four sold-out shows at the 3,500-seat Landmark Theater. At his peak in Syracuse, Benny would draw 24,000 fans to a show at Weedsport Speedway.

With all his records out of print, local promoters released two “Syracuse Only” records. These included “Unauthorized” and “American Dreams,” each of which sold over 18,000 copies in Syracuse. Benny’s sales topped even new releases by performers like Bruce Springsteen.

Michael Everett

When his son Michael Everett was born in 1985, Benny knew he had to quit using drugs so he could raise his son. Benny settled in upstate New York in an attempt to get his life in order.

Into the Night, Part II

In 1989, KZZP, a major radio station in Arizona, was running a segment entitled “Where Are They Now?” The most popular question was, ‘Whatever happened to the guy who sang “Into The Night?”‘ Scott Shannon, then program director for Pirate Radio in Los Angeles, added “Into The Night” to its playlist. Radio stations across the country followed suit and “Into The Night” once again established itself as the most requested record on radio.

Due to the success of “Into The Night,” Curb Records signed Benny Mardones and he quickly recorded “Into The Night ’89.” The track appeared on his self-titled release (known as the “Blue Album” by his fans.) Not long after that, Benny was asked to appear on a Showtime tribute to Roy Orbison, alongside such luminaries as Bob Dylan, John Fogerty, Johnny Cash, and K.D. Lang. Elvis Presley’s band was the house band for the evening. When Benny came on stage to sing “Running Scared,” few people know Benny’s name, but when he finished the song he received a standing ovation.

Self Titled

The self-titled record was followed by one more release on Curb. Despite their best intentions, Curb was not able to propel Benny’s career and they eventually parted ways. Curb, best known for country acts like LeAnn Rimes, was never able to properly promote Benny.

In 1998, still looking for a record deal, Benny was signed to Mariah Carey’s Crave Record label, and released the record “Angel.” Despite positive reviews and strong radio support, Crave went out of business three weeks after the record’s release.

Bless a Brand New Angel

Fuel Records, a division of Universal, reissued the record the album under the name “Bless A Brand New Angel” that same year. Unfortunately, too much momentum had been lost, and the record floundered.

1999’s Angel didn’t have quite the same chart impact as his breakthrough single but added to Benny’s a strong, devoted following who continue to cheer for for his raspy voice and down-to-earth songwriting. Indeed, his song “Bless a Brand New Angel” was written for a young fan who succumbed to cancer. This emotional, spiritual quality imbued Mardones’s later work like Angel with a new resonance.

The 2000's

In 2002, the singer issued Journey Through Time, a collective of new recordings of originals and covers that were important to him in his career,  intended to be a soundtrack to a documentary film about his life. Journey has become one of the fan’s favorite releases and includes an incredibly acoustic version of “Into The Night.”

In 2006, “Let’s Hear It for Love” was released on Warrior/Universal Records.

Today

To this day, Benny remains a superstar in Syracuse. His shows have become regular events, and his fan base continues to grow. Benny is now the subject of an award documentary movie entitled “Into The Night: The Benny Mardones Story” that will finally be released on DVD soon with lots of bonus and live footage.