George Benson Almost Didn’t Record His Biggest Hit
May 11, 2015
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Jazz legend George Benson recently played a brilliant show on Maui. Talking before the gig he revealed how he almost didn’t record “This Masquerade,” his biggest hit which catapulted him to international stardom.
When Benson began compiling material for his landmark “Breezin’” album in 1976, it was suggested he cover the song composed by Leon Russell.
“I’d never heard of the song or Leon Russell,” Benson explained. “I wondered why the producer had sent it to me. He said, ‘what do you think about ‘This Masquerade,’ and I hadn’t even played it. I couldn’t find, it so he sent it again. One of the guys in my band came to my house with his wife and she heard me listening to the record. She said it was her favorite song. So I thought I better learn it because people like it. Then at the last minute the sessions were going so good Tommy LiPuma, the producer said, ‘maybe we don’t need a vocal on the album.’ I said, wait a minute it, you made me go through all the trouble of learning this tune, let’s do it at least one time. So we did one take, and that’s the one and only take of ‘This Masquerade’.”
The first song in music history to achieve the number one position on the jazz, pop and R&B charts, “This Masquerade” earned Benson a Grammy Award for Record of the Year and helped make “Breezin” the best selling jazz album of all time.