Benton, Brook (Benjamin Peay)

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Benton, Brook (Benjamin Peay)

Benton, Brook (Benjamin Peay), one of the pioneer soul singers of the 1950s; b. Camden, S.C., Sept. 9 (or 19), 1931; d. N.Y.C., April 9, 1988. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, Brook Benton toured the gospel circuit with the Camden Jubilee Singers, the Bill Landford Spiritual Singers and the Golden Gate Quartet. Signed as solo artist to Epic Records in 1953, Benton also recorded for the RCA subsidiary Vik before meeting songwriter Clyde Otis around 1957. Benton, Otis and arranger Belford Hendricks subsequently formed a songwriting partnership. Recording hundreds of demonstration records with Otis, the pair co-wrote Nat “King” Cole’s “Looking Back,” and Benton co-wrote Clyde McPhatter’s “A Lover’s Question” and The Diamonds’ “The Stroll,” all smash hits from 1958. In 1959 Otis persuaded Mercury Records to sign Benton. Over the next four years the team provided Benton with a number of hit recordings on Mercury, including the top R&B and smash pop hit “It’s Just a Matter of Time,” “Endlessly,” “Thank You Pretty Baby,” “Kiddio” and “The Boll Weevil Song.” Other hits recorded by Benton included “So Many Ways” (a top R&B and smash pop hit) and the pop and R&B smash “Hotel Happiness.” “So Close,” “Think Twice” and “Lie to Me” became R&B smashes.

In late 1959 Brook Benton recorded The Two of Us with Dinah Washington, and the album yielded two huge hits with “Baby (You’ve Got What It Takes)” and “A Rockin’ Good Way.” He continued to record for Mercury with modest commercial success, switching to RCA in 1965 and Reprise in 1967. He eventually scored his final smash hit on Cotillion with Tony Joe White’s “Rainy Night in Georgia” in 1970. He later recorded for MGM and All Platinum and maintained his career on the club circuit. On April 9, 1988, Brook Benton died in N.Y. at the age of 56 of complications from spinal meningitis.


At His Best (1959); It’s Just a Matter of Time (1959); Endlessly (1959); So Many Ways I Love You (1960); Songs I Love to Sing (1960); // You Believe (1961); The Boll Weevil Song (1961); There Goes That Song Again (1962); Lie to Me (1962); Best Ballads of Broadway (1963); Born to Sing The Blues (1964); On The Country Side (1964); This Bitter Earth (1964); Mother Earth (1966); Mother Nature, Father Time (1965); That Old Feeling (1966); My Country (1966); Laura, What’s He Got That I Ain’t Got (1967); Do Your Thing (1969); Today (1970); Home Style (1970); Gospel Truth (1971); Story Teller (1972); Something for Everyone (1973); This Is Brook Benton (1976).

—Brock Helander

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Benton, Brook (Benjamin Peay)

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