Brook Benton (September 19, 1931 - April 9, 1988) was a highly acclaimed R&B/soul singer and songwriter with velvety smooth baritone vocals and a great deal of crossover appeal who became famous beginning in the late 1950s. His best known songs include "It's Just A Matter Of Time" (1959), "Endlessly" (1959), "Baby (You've Got What It Takes)" (1960, with Dinah Washington), "Kiddio" (1960), "The Boll Weevil Song" (1961), and the melancholy "Rainy Night In Georgia" (1970).
Born Benjamin Franklin Peay in Lugoff, South Carolina, he began singing and writing songs as a child and performed in the church where his father was choir master. In 1948, he moved to New York to further his music career and became a member of several gospel groups. In 1953, he signed with Okeh Records, who changed his stage name to Brook Benton, and by 1959, had moved to Mercury.
Brook Benton debuted on the Pop/Rock charts in 1958 with the haunting early rock & roll-styled "A Million Miles From Nowhere." His fame took off in early 1959 with the self-penned "It's Just A Matter Of Time," which topped the R&B charts, made the Pop/Rock Top 5, and soon after went gold. He continued his string of R&B chart-toppers through 1960, all of which crossed over to the Pop/Rock charts, with "Thank You Pretty Baby" (1959), "So Many Ways" (1959), "Kiddio" (1960), "Baby (You've Got What It Takes)" (1960), and "A Rockin' Good Way (To Mess Around And Fall In Love)" (1960), the latter two performed with Dinah Washington as playful duets. He then topped the Adult Contemporary chart in 1961 with "The Boll Weevil Song," a mostly-spoken pop adaptation of a traditional blues song which also reached the Top 5 on both the R&B and Pop/Rock charts.
Benton had a resurgence in popularity in 1970 with the Tony Joe White-penned ballad, "Rainy Night In Georgia," which topped the R&B charts, reached the Top 5 on both the Pop/Rock and Adult Contemporary charts, and became his signature song. His long string of hits, which continued through 1971 on all three charts, also includes "Endlessly" (1959), "The Same One" (1960), "Think Twice" (1961), "Frankie And Johnny" (1961), "Revenge" (1961), "Shadrack" (1962), "Lie To Me" (1962), "Hotel Happiness" (1962), "My True Confession" (1963), "Two Tickets To Paradise" (1963, not to be confused with the same-named Eddie Money hit), "Mother Nature, Father Time" (1965), "Don't It Make You Want To Go Home" (1970), and "Shoes" (1970), the latter two with The Dixie Flyers. Benton's final charting song came in 1978 on the R&B charts with the disco-styled "Makin' Love Is Good For You."
In addition to penning many of his own hits, Brook Benton also served as a songwriter and producer for other performing artists. He wrote/co-wrote such oldies hits as Clyde McPhatter's "A Lover's Question," Bobby "Blue" Bland's "I'll Take Care of You," Ruth Brown's "I Don't Know," and Nat King Cole's "Looking Back." Benton also appeared with Alan Freed in the movie musical, "Mister Rock And Roll" (1957).
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- The New York Times remembers Brook Benton.
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- The Boll Weevil Song 1961
- Fools Rush In (Where Angels Fear To Tread) 1960
(This song later also became a hit for Etta James (1962) and Rick Nelson (1963).)
- Frankie And Johnny 1961
(This song, which is based on the early 20th century folk tune ("Frankie and Johnny were lovers ..."), was previously a hit for Johnny Cash (1959) and later also became a hit for Sam Cooke (1963), the Greenwood Country Singers (1964), and Elvis Presley (1966).)
- Hotel Happiness 1962
- I Got What I Wanted 1963
- Kiddio 1960
- Lie To Me 1962
- Rainy Night In Georgia 1970
- Revenge 1961
- Shadrack 1962
- Think Twice 1961
- The Ties That Bind 1960
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