Song Of The Week: “On Broadway” by George Benson

george benson on broadway pic sleeveSometimes you just have to take somebody else’s song, declare war on it, conquer it, put that bad boy in your pocket, and say, “This one’s mine now.”

George Benson played jazz guitar from the time he was a small child.  He released his first single at the tender age of 10, and played well enough to keep company on albums by Miles Davis and Freddie Hubbard (to name but two) — as well as leading his own sessions — when he was barely out of his teens.  Benson kept up this routine throughout the 60s and early 70s, alternately working in combos with the best in the jazz biz while releasing his own albums of well chosen covers.

george benson on guitarBenson’s albums were largely instrumental, featuring the occasional vocal turn, but everything began to change in 1976 when he suddenly scored a Top 10 hit singing “This Masquerade.” The album it featured on, Breezin’, became the best-selling jazz album of all time.  Subsequent singles showed that the record-buying public craved “George Benson, Pop Singer,” and in early 1978 he unleashed his tour de force version of “On Broadway,” a fine hit for The Drifters in 1963, but something else entirely in Benson’s hands as his fingers fly over the frets and his jazzy scatting soars with the joy and confidence of a country kid determined to show the Big Apple he’s got what it takes to make it in this crazy ol’ town.

“On Broadway” was Benson’s biggest hit up to that point, a bestseller on the Pop, R&B, Jazz, and Adult Contemporary charts.The 80s provided more big hits, but “On Broadway” has outlasted them all.

Catch the magic in the air.

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