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Marc Benno

Marc BennoFor over 40 years, Marc Benno has been giving blues, rock and pop an unmistakable Texas flavor. A singer/songwriter who plays the guitar and piano, Benno is also a behind-the scenes force, who has helped some of rock and blues’ greatest talents sound even better. The list of legends he’s worked with includes The Doors, Eric Clapton, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Bill Wyman, Georgie Fame, Rita Coolidge, Eddie Murphy and Leon Russell.

Born in Dallas, Benno grew up immersed in popular music – his father managed the Texas State Fair’s Music Hall garden. Backstage, Benno met stars like Sam Cooke, Laverne Baker,Frankie Avalon, Paul Anka, the Drifters and Lloyd Price. But, the first album Benno remembers hearing was Lightnin’ in New York, by the legendary Lightnin Hopkins (a rural-blues guitarist who lived in Houston.)

Morrison and BennoStill in his early teens, Benno started his own regionally successful pop/R&B group, and in the mid-1960s headed to Los Angeles to further his career, a move he says put him “in the right place at the right time.” His blues background made him sought after by rock groups looking for some rootsy authenticity. One day, he was tapped to play on an album by the psychedelic rock greats The Doors. The sessions were for the classic L.A. Woman (1971), the group’s last LP before Jim Morrison’s death. “I didn’t know who they were,” Benno recalls. “But they needed someone who could play a bluesy, Texas guitar.”

He also recorded a pair of albums with Leon Russell as the Asylum Choir. Benno fondly remembers crashing in Russell’s closet, and working with a plethora of musicians who would hang out and jam. One of them was Eric Clapton, who played guitar on two tracks from Benno’s 1979 album Lost in Austin: “Last Train” and “Chasin Rainbows.”

Clapton and Benno“Clapton was a down-to-earth guy,” Benno says of the man nicknamed “God” by his fans. “Even though he’s from England, he reminds me of someone from Texas, so down to earth and humble and into the blues.”

Nightcrawlers BennoWith his career on the rise, Benno struck a deal with A&M Records in 1970 to launch a solo career. He released three albums, 1970s self-titled album, 1971’s Minnows and 1972’s Ambush. After Ambush, Benno formed a new band, Marc Benno & The Nightcrawlers, who were primed to become the next big thing, and went off on tour opening for Humble Pie and The J. Geils Band – getting star treatment on tour. One of the Nightcrawlers was a young guitarist named Stevie Vaughan (he’d start using Ray later). Benno remembers with pride, “He didn’t sing - he’d just play the hell out of the guitar.” However, the label had grown bearish on the prospects for blues-based rock. The multi-talented Benno could have easily shifted into a pop career, but he was committed to becoming an even better blues guitarist, and the Nightcrawlers album was never picked up by A&M.

Lightnin Hopkins with BennoDuring 1974-75, his childhood influences came full circle when he joined Lightnin Hopkins’ band as 2nd guitar player. Benno attests to Hopkins’ colorful personality. “He was dead serious about music, because he was the real thing. You had better know how to play the blues to be around him.” “One time, he fired the bass player on stage... Another time, Benno went to get his boss a beer only to receive an odd reprimand: “Don’t you ever open my beer,” Hopkins told him. “Go get me another beer and don’t open it.” Hopkins went on to claim that country bluesman Blind Lemon Jefferson (1893-1929) had been killed by poisoned beer, a story that is hard to substantiate, but “true if Lightnin’ said it.” Benno adds that his time with Hopkins was essential in making him an authentic blues player.

Benno’s career got an unexpected boost in 1985, when his song “Rock & Roll Me Again” was recorded by The System for the Beverly Hills Cop soundtrack. Even better, the album won the Grammy for Best Score for a Motion Picture, a first in Benno’s career.

By the end of the 80s, the partying lifestyle and the long hours away from home were catching up with Marc, and he became burned out, losing his interest in music until the mid-90s when his friends finally helped him get back on track, and helped him realize he didn’t have to be high to do his job.

Since moving to San Antonio in 2000, Benno has been working hard again, writing songs, jamming with local musicians, and even finding time to get a psychology degree, a big step for a guy who had dedicated 100 percent of his professional efforts towards music since he was 13.

Having lived through all the things that make one a great blues player, Benno can view his career with perspective and insight. But his creative fire and ambition remain undimmed. Live, Benno can do an uptempo R&B set, but he can also do pop, jazz and country. He’s tough to categorize and is reaching out to audiences that don’t just want the same thing over and over again.

Benno with Mance Lipscomb

Quotes

I Got It Bad "as much Texas tone as anyone could want." -Blues Revue

"a refreshing listen" -Kyle Palarino (BluesWax)

"a fine guitarist, delivering sharp, stinging leads and easy-going propulsive rhythm with aplomb." -John Taylor (Blues On Stage)

"A clean, fluid style on guitar...definitely a guitar player worth a listen." -Mark Thompson (Blues Blast)

"CD is solid, good blues guitar tidbids throughout, strong backing band and good lyrics. This gets a strong 4.5 out of 5." -STLBlues.net

"A solid set of Texas blues with fine songs and excellent guitar." -Graham Clarke (Blues Bytes)

"...tasty mixture of swinging guitar, horn-backed arrangements and original songs...a king of contemporary Texas blues with some West Coast rhythms added." -Blue Notes, Pittsburgh Post Gazette

"Clearly a man comfortable with his craft." -Malcolm Kennedy (Bluesletter - WA Blues Society)

Crawlin "a combustible blend of pop, rock, and an ample supply of blues." -Brenda Barbee (Roots Music Report)

"The guitar is great, the feel is good, the songs have a groove, but then they should - the lineup is stellar." -Peter 'Cornbread' Cohen (STLBlues.net)

"Sounds like it could have been recorded last month...the roots of some of the best Texas blues rock of the day" -Jim White (Blues Notes - Pittsburgh Post Gazette)

"Nice guitar work from Benno and Vaughan...still holds up pretty well today...it's obvious from the first note you hear that he [Vaughan] is somebody special." -Graham Clarke (Blues Bytes)
 
 
Crawlin peaked at #34 on the Roots Music Report Blues Radio Chart
 
 

Testimonial:
“Marc Benno brings to the stage not only his formidable vocal talents, which include a keen and perceptive realization of the lyric content of the piece being performed but also such a relaxed and mature style of singing and playing guitar that the listener immediately becomes captivated and enchanted with the easy professionalism with which he imbues his chosen material. Moreover, he's great to watch. You know he knows what he's doing. He has a wonderful sense of time...and humor, which he shares with his audiences, but not the ultra-hip, exclusive brand, of which the average person is outside. Benno's real...and for real. One can't help but enjoy a Marc Benno performance. He's been out of the public eye for much too long, but thankfully, he's interested in returning...we need him. This rare breed of a seasoned and confident, talented and sensitive performer is not in abundance these days.” --Steve LaVere (Music Historian/Robert Johnson Estate)

Audio Samples:
I Got It Bad Terminal Case of the Blues  [ MP3 ]
Too Bad You're No Good  [ MP3 ]
Save Our Love  [ MP3 ]
Thing or Two  [ MP3 ]

Crawlin Last Train  [ MP3 ]
Take Me Down Easy  [ MP3 ]
World Keep Spinnin  [ MP3 ]

Live In Japan - Marc Benno Chasin' Rainbows  [ MP3 ]
Donut Man  [ MP3 ]
Good Year  [ MP3 ]
Second Story Window  [ MP3 ]

Sugar Blues Every Night Is Saturday Night  [ MP3 ]
Little Miss Rock And Roll  [ MP3 ]
Love Junkie  [ MP3 ]
 

 
Video Clips: Crosscut Saw

Little Miss Rock N' Roll

Texas Flood (Benno with Stevie Ray Vaughan 8/14/88)


I Got It Bad Marc Benno - I Got It Bad
Style: Blues

From his work with Leon Russell on the Asylum Choir albums to his appearance on the Doors LA Woman, to his work as a second guitarist for Lightnin’ Hopkins, Marc Benno has been an important part of the music scene for over 40 years. This veteran songwriter and musician returns with an album of original blues tunes featuring the West Side Horns from San Antonio and including Jimmie Vaughan's drummer George Rains and Sir Douglas Quintet bassist Jack Barber. A strong and powerful return to the blues!

Catalog #4510 (Released Jun 16, 2009)
Out of Print

Available as digital download and streaming music only
Crawlin Marc Benno - Crawlin
Style: Blues/Rock

The original recordings of the infamous Texas blues-rock band featuring Stevie Ray Vaughan on lead guitar (this is the first recorded appearance by Stevie), Doyle Bramhall on drums, Tommy McClure on bass guitar and Billy Etheridge on keyboards, performing classics written by Marc Benno and the band. Concentrating on Benno’s songwriting talents, the band took on a sound of their own and became underground legends in the Austin music scene of the 70’s. The album, which also features Stevie’s first instrumental, was recorded at Sunset Sound in Hollywood right before the Nightcrawlers went off on tour with J. Geils and Humble Pie. They returned from tour to find their label wasn’t looking for another blues based project, and the album has sat unreleased until now!

Catalog #4511 (Released Jun 16, 2009)
Out of Print

Available as digital download and streaming music only

I Got It Bad iTunes emusic
Amazon
Crawlin iTunes

Amazon
Hit The Bottom iTunes
Rhapsody Amazon
Sugar Blues iTunes emusic
Amazon
Live at the Chi Chi Club iTunes emusic
Amazon
Live in Gillespie County iTunes emusic
Amazon
Golden Treasure iTunes emusic
Amazon
Shadow iTunes emusic
Amazon

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