Saturday, March 08, 2014

AccuRadio Song Of The Day-George Benson

Artist:George Benson
Song:Turn Your Love Around
Album:The Best Of George Benson

George Benson was already one of the all time great jazz guitarists when he achieved mainstream pop success as a singer in the late 70s. He always sang but it was surprising to hear him on Top 40 radio. Turn Your Love Around was one of his four top ten pop hits in 1981. He was born Mar. 22, 1943 in Pittsburgh and he played guitar in clubs as a child. He even released a single on RCA when he was ten years old. Benson's guitar influences included Hank Garland and Wes Montgomery. But his biggest influence was organist Brother Jack McDuff who took him on the road as a teen and played on Benson's 1964 debut album. After two albums on Columbia and a stint with Miles Davis in the mid-60s, Benson signed with producer Creed Taylor. And this is where a lot of jazz fans got to know Benson through albums like The Other Side of Abbey Road and White Rabbit. And when Taylor left A & M to start his own CTI label in 1971, Benson went with him and recorded several successful albums. He left CTI for Warner Bros. in 1976. The album Breezin' was produced by Warners house producer Tommy LiPuma and was a huge success. It was certified 3XPlatinum. And the single This Masquerade was Benson's first top ten pop hit and it won three Grammys. It was fairly criticized as too pop. I think it was successful because folks thought he sounded like Stevie Wonder. But it was a bit of a shock to jazz fans. The success continued with hits like The Greatest Love Of All and Give Me The Night. He was working with producer Quincy Jones. And he knew arranger Claus Ogerman from his CTI days. In 1981, Warners wanted a couple of bonus tracks for the two album comp The George Benson Collection. They contacted session guitarist and producer Jay Graydon. Graydon didn't know Benson but he had four days until Benson arrived at his studio. Graydon was having trouble coming up with a song and he says he got the melody for Turn Your Love Around while sitting on the toilet. He recorded it and got pianist Steve Lukather of Toto to help him with it. Bill Champlin wrote the lyrics. Toto is the band on the record. Those guys were all studio musicians. The song reached #5 on the Billboard Hot 100. It was Benson's final top ten pop hit. You can get all his Warners hits on this budget comp. I may look at his earlier CTI recordings at another time. Benson went back to being more of a jazz artist until he left Warners for GRP in 1993. He is currently with Concord Records and his latest CD Inspiration: A Tribute To Nat King Cole was released June 2013. Benson is finishing his autobiography and he will begin touring in the spring. Here's George Benson performing Turn Your Love Around on Soul Train 1981.


  1. Excellent post Frank. I have always liked George Benson's songs. Sorry to hear some people thought they were to mainstream or "pop". I thought they were very well sung and played.

  2. I think it depends if you are familiar with his earlier jazz albums. Albums like The Other Side of Abbey Road straddled jazz and pop very adeptly. That's why I plan to feature his early albums down the road. The success of Breezin' was a surprise and jazz fans and critics thought it wasn't worthy of his talent. Very professional but beneath Benson's talents.