Benny Mardones exploded onto the music scene in 1980 and was quickly nicknamed "The Voice," a title earned because of his incredible range, as well as his soulful and passionate performance of "Into The Night." The song became a radio classic across the country, topped the charts twice, and became one of the most frequently played tunes in radio history. It is estimated that the song has been played more than 4,500,000 times in the US alone.
Benny was born in Cleveland, Ohio and raised in Savage, Maryland. As a young boy, Benny saw Elvis Presley on the Ed Sullivan show, and made the decision to become a rock and roll singer. As a teenager, Benny formed his first group, singing at local high schools and colleges in the Maryland area.
After a stint in the Navy during Vietnam, Benny moved to New York City where he met Joel Diamond, then President of CBS Publishing. At Joel's suggestion that Benny try his hand at songwriting, Alan Miles co-wrote the song "Too Heavy To Carry" with Benny. Two weeks later, Brenda Lee recorded the song and Benny the songwriter was born.
The first seven songs penned by Benny and Alan Miles were recorded by various artists and the duo gained a reputation as "the new hot songwriters" in town. On many occasions Benny and Alan recorded demo versions of their songs. Benny sang and Alan accompanied him on piano. After hearing one of the demos, Tommy Mottola, then working for Joel Diamond, suggested that Benny sing his own songs. Joel felt the same way, and set out to find Benny a record deal. Within a few months White Whale Records, best known for the band The Turtles, released Benny and Alan Miles' song "Stand and Be Counted." Concerned that 'Benny Mardones' was not a good stage name, the record was released under the name 'Troy.'
After some corporate shake-ups, Benny and Alan found themselves unemployed. Alan decided to move to California where he started a band called The Band with No Name and released a record on the legendary disco label Casablanca. Benny moved to Woodstock, New York with his friend DL Byron with whom he had started a band called Justice. After the breakup of Justice, DL Byron moved back to NYC. Eventually, DL signed a deal with Arista and wrote the song "Shadows of The Night" which became a number-one hit for Pat Benatar.
In Woodstock, Benny met Richie Havens who was so impressed by Benny's talent that he invited Benny on the road as his opening act. During the tour, at a rally in NYC, Benny came to the attention of legendary promoter Ron Delsener. Soon after, Blue Oyster Cult canceled as the opening band for Dave Mason and Peter Frampton, and Benny was asked at the last minute to open the show at Madison Square Garden.
Benny's New York appearances brought him to the attention of Andrew Loog Oldham, who had produced the first seventeen Rolling Stones records, and Larry Utall, President of Private Stock Records (the original home of Blondie). Benny signed to Private Stock and the record "Thank God For Girls" was released in 1979.
Private Stock folded not long after the record's release. Benny's friend, Bill McGathy, (now one of Benny's closest friends and confidants as well as Michael Everetts godfather) had just taken over as the head of National Promotions at Polydor Records. Through Bill's efforts, Benny was eventually signed by Polydor. With his new writing partner Bobby Tepper, Benny put together a collection of songs that far surpassed his earlier work.
Teen Beat Magazine
Together with producer and friend Barry Mraz (Styx, Ohio Players), Benny recorded the album "Never Run, Never Hide." The record included "Into The Night," which became a number one record on the CHR and AC charts. Despite his professional success, Benny's personal life was at an all time low. He found himself battling the demons of drug addiction, and discontinued all concert performances, recordings, and appearances. To the rest of the world, it seemed Benny Mardones had fallen off the face of the earth.
Benny disappeared everywhere - everywhere, that is, but Syracuse, NY. With the help of fans like Tommy Nast, then program director at local station 94 Rock, Benny's music was constantly on the air in Syracuse. In 1983, he played a legendary concert at Longbranch Park with more than 10,000 people in attendance. BennyMania took hold in upstate New York. In 1985, Benny played four sold-out shows at the 3,500-seat Landmark Theater. At his peak in Syracuse, Benny would draw 24,000 fans to a show at Weedsport Speedway.
With all his records out of print, local promoters released two "Syracuse Only" records. These included "Unauthorized" and "American Dreams," each of which sold over 18,000 copies in Syracuse. Benny's sales topped even new releases by performers like Bruce Springsteen.
When his son Michael Everett was born in 1985, Benny knew he had to quit using drugs so he could raise his son. Benny settled in upstate New York in an attempt to get his life in order.
Syracuse Radio Newsletter
Curb Records Press Photo
Due to the success of "Into The Night," Curb Records signed Benny Mardones and he quickly recorded "Into The Night '89." The track appeared on his self-titled release (known as the "Blue Album" by his fans.) Not long after that, Benny was asked to appear on a Showtime tribute to Roy Orbison, alongside such luminaries as Bob Dylan, John Fogerty, Johnny Cash, and K.D. Lang. Elvis Presley's band was the house band for the evening. When Benny came on stage to sing "Running Scared," few people know Benny's name, but when he finished the song he received a standing ovation.