Duster Bennett

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Tony "Duster" Bennett
John Mayall and Duster Bennett 1970.JPG
Bennett at right with John Mayall on a 1970 US tour.
Background information
Birth name Anthony Bennett
Also known as Duster Bennett
Born (1946-09-23)23 September 1946
Welshpool, Powys, Mid Wales, U.K.
Died 26 March 1976(1976-03-26) (aged 29)
Genres British blues, British R&B, acoustic blues, electric blues, white soul
Occupation(s) Musician, singer-songwriter
Instruments Vocals, acoustic guitar, slide guitar, electric guitar, harmonica, percussion, drums, keyboards, bass guitar, mandolin
Years active 1960s–1976
Labels Blue Horizon, Toadstool
Associated acts John Mayall, Alexis Korner, Top Topham, Fleetwood Mac

Anthony "Duster" Bennett (23 September 1946 – 26 March 1976) was a British blues singer and musician. Based around London, his first album Smiling Like I'm Happy saw him playing as a one-man band, playing a bass drum with his foot and blowing a harmonica on a rack while strumming a 1952 Les Paul Goldtop guitar given to him in 1968 by Peter Green.[1] Backed by his girlfriend Stella Sutton and the original Fleetwood Mac on three tracks, the album was well received. He remained popular on the local blues club scene until his death in a car crash in 1976.

Early career[edit]

Bennett was born in Welshpool, Powys, Mid Wales. Emerging in the late 1960s from the art school music scene of Kingston-upon-Thames and Guildford, Bennett was a one-man blues band with virtuosity and co-ordination on drums, guitar and harmonica. His live sets combined his own compositions with Jimmy Reed-style blues standards often aided by friends Peter Green and Top Topham. He was a session musician in the early 1960s playing harmonica. Between 1968 and 1970 he was played on John Peel's Top Gear, toured and eventually joined John Mayall's Bluesbreakers as band member/solo act on a US tour in 1970. In the 1970s he drifted off into more mainstream material.

Musical style[edit]

Bennett's music was country blues with the occasional gospel music offering, but his last album Fingertips (1975) differs from the earlier records; it was made with influences of soul, R&B and funk. Bennett recorded three albums and a string of singles for Blue Horizon. Bright Lights was recorded live at the Gin Mill Club in Godalming, Surrey. Bennett's "Jumping at Shadows" was subsequently covered by Fleetwood Mac and revived in 1992 by Gary Moore, who covered it in his After Hours album. Attempts to gain wider appeal with Mickie Most were unsuccessful. For decades, a clutch of live and home recordings on Indigo seemed to be all that remained of his work until the 2006 release of the Complete Blue Horizon Sessions.

Death[edit]

After performing with Memphis Slim on 26 March 1976, Bennett was driving home in a Ford Transit van in Warwickshire when he apparently fell asleep at the wheel. The van collided with a truck and Bennett was killed.[2]

Selected discography[edit]

  • 2006: Complete Blues Horizon Sessions (a collection of the first three albums plus early singles)[3]
  • 2000: Shady Little Baby (Rare & Unreleased Recordings Vol 3) (on Indigo Records)
  • 1999: Comin' Home (Rare & Unreleased Recordings Vol 2) (on Indigo Records)
  • 1998: I Choose to Sing the Blues (Rare & Unreleased Recordings 1968-71 Vol 1) (on Indigo Records)
  • 1975: Fingertips (on Toadstool Records)
  • 1970: 12dbs (on Blue Horizon Records)
  • 1969: Justa Duster (on Blue Horizon Records)
  • 1969: Bright Lights (live session), "I'm gonna wind up ending up or I'm gonna end up winding up with you" (45rpm single)
  • 1968: Smiling Like I'm Happy (on Blue Horizon Records)

Bibliography[edit]

References[edit]