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Brook Benton

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Brook Benton
Promotional photo of Benton (1959)
Promotional photo of Benton (1959)
Background information
Birth nameBenjamin Franklin Peay
Born(1931-09-19)September 19, 1931
Lugoff, South Carolina, U.S.
DiedApril 9, 1988(1988-04-09) (aged 56)
Queens, New York, U.S.
OccupationsSinger, songwriter, actor
Years active1948–1988
LabelsOkeh, Mercury, Cotillion, RCA
Formerly ofDinah Washington

Benjamin Franklin Peay (September 19, 1931 – April 9, 1988), better known as Brook Benton, was an American singer and songwriter who was popular with rock and roll, rhythm and blues, and pop music audiences during the late 1950s and early 1960s, with hits such as "It's Just a Matter of Time" and "Endlessly", many of which he co-wrote.

He made a comeback in 1970 with the ballad "Rainy Night in Georgia." Benton scored over 50 Billboard chart hits as an artist, and also wrote hits for other performers.[1]

Early life and career[edit]

When Benton was young, he enjoyed gospel music, wrote songs and sang in a Methodist church choir in Lugoff, South Carolina, where his father, Willie Peay, was choir master.[2] In 1948, he went to New York to pursue his music career, going in and out of gospel groups, such as The Langfordaires, The Jerusalem Stars and The Golden Gate Quartet. Returning to his home state, he joined an R&B singing group, The Sandmen, and went back to New York to get a big break with his group. The Sandmen had limited success and their label, Okeh Records, decided to push Peay as a solo artist, changing his name to Brook Benton, apparently at the suggestion of label executive Marv Halsman.[3]

Brook earned a good living by writing songs and co-producing albums. He wrote songs for artists such as Nat King Cole, Clyde McPhatter (for whom he co-wrote the hit "A Lover's Question") and Roy Hamilton. He eventually released his first minor hit, "A Million Miles from Nowhere", before switching to the Mercury label, which would eventually bring him major success. He also appeared in the 1957 film Mister Rock and Roll, with Alan Freed.

One of Benton's sisters was the original artist to record "Baby (You've Got What It Takes)", in 1958, under the title "You've Got What It Takes", using the stage name Dorothy Pay,[4] as the B-side of her single "Strollin' with My Baby".[5][6] In August 1959 Benton partnered with Dinah Washington to record the song and their version, released in January 1960, was hugely successful on both the pop and R&B charts, reaching #5 on the Billboard Hot 100 and #1 on the Hot R&B sides chart for ten weeks,[7] becoming one of the most successful R&B singles of the 1960s.


In 1959, he finally made his breakthrough with hits like "It's Just a Matter of Time" and "Endlessly". "It's Just a Matter of Time" peaked at No. 3 on the United States Billboard Hot 100 chart, sold over one million copies and was awarded a gold disc by the RIAA.[8] "Endlessly" made it to No. 12. Both of the first two hits were written by Benton with Clyde Otis. They were originally offered to Nat King Cole, but when Otis became an A&R manager and producer at Mercury, he convinced Benton to sign with the label and record them himself, while asking Cole not to record the songs as planned.[9] Benton followed this success with a series of hits, including "So Many Ways" (No. 6), "Hotel Happiness" (No. 3), "Think Twice" (No. 11), "Kiddio" (No. 7), and "The Boll Weevil Song" (No. 2). In 1960, he had two top 10 hit duets with Dinah Washington: "Baby (You've Got What It Takes)" (No. 5) and "A Rockin' Good Way (to Mess Around and Fall in Love)" (No. 7).[10]

In the mid 1960s, Benton recorded for RCA Records and Reprise Records with minimal commercial success. Then, in 1968, he signed with Cotillion Records, a subsidiary of Atlantic Records, where, the following year, he enjoyed his last major hit with "Rainy Night in Georgia", written by Tony Joe White and produced and arranged by Arif Mardin, a million-seller which topped the Billboard R&B chart.[10] Cornell Dupree played guitar on the song.[11] Benton recorded a total of five albums with Mardin, including a gospel album, during his stay at Cotillion.[citation needed]

Benton eventually charted a total of 49 singles on the Billboard Hot 100, with other songs charting on Billboard's rhythm and blues, easy listening, and Christmas music charts.[12] The last album made by Benton was Fools Rush In, which was released posthumously in 2005. He also had records released on various other labels, including All-Platinum, Brut, Olde Worlde, Stax and Groove Records.[13]


Weakened from spinal meningitis, Benton died of pneumonia in Queens, New York City, at the age of 56 on April 9, 1988.[14] He was survived by his wife, Mary Benton, and six children: Brook Jr., Vanessa, Roy, Is'real, Gerald, and Benjamin, all of Queens.[2]


Benton in 1970


Year Album Peak chart positions
US 200
1959 It's Just a Matter of Time
1960 I Love You in So Many Ways
The Two of Us (with Dinah Washington)
Songs I Love to Sing (Verve)
1961 Golden Hits 82
The Boll Weevil Song and 11 Other Great Hits 70
1962 If You Believe 77
Singing the Blues – Lie to Me 40
1963 Golden Hits, Volume 2 82
Best Ballads of Broadway
1964 Born to Sing the Blues
Laura (What's He Got That I Ain't Got) 156
1969 Do Your Own Thing 189
1970 Brook Benton Today 27 4
Brook Benton I Wanna Be With You
Homestyle 199
1971 The Gospel Truth
1972 Story Teller
1973 Something for Everyone
1976 This is Brook Benton
(released in the UK as "Mister Bartender")
1977 Makin' Love Is Good for You
The Incomparable Brook Benton – 20 Greatest Hits (Warwick)
1979 Ain't No Good
So Close
1981 Brook Benton Sings the Standards
1983 20 Golden Pieces of Brook Benton
Beautiful memories of Christmas
1984 Soft
1989 Forty Greatest Hits (compilation)
2002 Rainy Night in Georgia (compilation, remastered)
2021 Just A Matter of Time (compilation)
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that territory.


Year Title Peak chart positions Album
US Pop
CB Pop
1955 "The Kentuckian Song"
b/w "Ooh" (Non-album track)
Brook Benton at His Best!!!
"Some of My Best Friends"
b/w "Bring Me Love"
1956 "Love Made Me Your Fool"
b/w "Give Me a Sign"
1957 "The Wall"
b/w "All My Love Belongs to You" (from The Soul of Brook Benton)
"Come On, Be Nice"
b/w "I Wanna Do Everything for You" (from Brook Benton)
Non-album track
1958 "A Million Miles from Nowhere"
b/w "Devoted"
82 Brook Benton
1959 "It's Just a Matter of Time" 3 2 1 It's Just a Matter of Time
"Hurtin' Inside" 78 23 Golden Hits
"Endlessly" 12 11 3 28 Endlessly
"So Close" 38 60 5 I Love You In So Many Ways
"Thank You Pretty Baby" 16 10 1 Golden Hits
"With All of My Heart" 82 66
"So Many Ways" 6 3 1 I Love You In So Many Ways
"I Want You Forever" 103 Non-album track
"This Time of the Year"
b/w "Nothing In The World (Could Make Me Love You More Than I Do)" (first pressings)
"How Many Times" (later pressings)
66 65 12 Non-album tracks
1960 "Baby (You've Got What It Takes)"
b/w "I Do"
(Both sides with Dinah Washington)
5 2 1 The Two of Us
"The Ties That Bind" 37 23 15 Golden Hits
"Hither and Thither and Yon" 58 49
"A Rockin' Good Way (To Mess Around and Fall In Love)"
b/w "I Believe"
(Both sides with Dinah Washington)
7 5 1 The Two of Us
"Kiddio" 7 3 1 41 Golden Hits
"The Same One" 16 16 21
"Fools Rush In (Where Angels Fear to Tread)" 24 15 5 50 Songs I Love to Sing
"Someday You'll Want Me to Want You" 93 Non-album track
"This Time of the Year"
b/w "Merry Christmas, Happy New Year"
Non-album tracks
1961 "Think Twice" 11 6 Golden Hits Volume 2
"For My Baby" 28 24 2 Non-album track
"The Boll Weevil Song" 2 2 2 1 30 The Boll Weevil Song
"Your Eyes" 115 Non-album track
"Frankie and Johnny" 20 16 14 6 The Boll Weevil Song
"It's Just a House Without You" 45 71 8 Golden Hits Volume 2
b/w "Really, Really" (Non-album track)
15 16 12
1962 "Shadrack" 19 29 If You Believe
"The Lost Penny" 77 94
"Walk on the Wild Side"
b/w "Somewhere in the Used to Be" (Non-album track)
43 42 Golden Hits Volume 2
"Hit Record" 45 36 19
"Thanks to the Fool" 106 86 Non-album track
"Lie to Me" 13 10 3 Singing the Blues
"With the Touch of Your Hand" 120 126 Non-album track
"Still Waters Run Deep" 89 81 Golden Hits Volume 2
1963 "Hotel Happiness" 3 6 2
"I Got What I Wanted" 28 22 4 14 Singing the Blues
"Dearer Than Life" 59 72 Non-album track
"My True Confession" 22 29 7 8 Singing The Blues
"Tender Years" 87
"Two Tickets to Paradise"
b/w "Don't Hate Me"
32 30 15 8 Non-album tracks
"Baby, You've Got It Made" (w/ Damita Jo) 111 133
"Stop Foolin'" (w/ Damita Jo) 108 87
"You're All I Want for Christmas"
b/w "This Time of the Year"
1964 "Going Going Gone"
b/w "After Midnight"(from Born to Sing the Blues)
35 30 5 11 On the Countryside
"Another Cup of Coffee" 47 40 4 13 Non-album track
"Too Late to Turn Back Now" 43 38 8 14 This Bitter Earth
"A House Is Not a Home"
b/w "Come On Back"
75 50 6 13 Non-album tracks
b/w "Don't Do What I Did (Do What I Say)"
53 47 11 15 This Bitter Earth
"Do It Right" 67 58 33
"Please, Please Make It Easy" 119
1965 "The Special Years"
b/w "Where There's a Will (There's a Way")
129 109 Non-album tracks
"Love Me Now"
b/w "A Sleepin' at the Foot of the Bed"
100 97 37
"Mother Nature, Father Time"
b/w "Where There's Life (There's Still Hope)"
53 43 26 9 Mother Nature, Father Time
1966 "Only a Girl Like You"
b/w "While There's Life (There's Still Hope)"
122 102 Non-album tracks
"Too Much Good Lovin'"
b/w "A Sailor Boy's Love Song"
"Break Her Heart"
b/w "In the Evening by Moonlight"
"If Only You Knew"
b/w "So True in Life, So True in Love"
"Our First Christmas Together"
b/w "Silent Night"
1967 "All My Love Belongs to You"
b/w "Wake Up"
"Keep the Faith, Baby"
b/w "Going to Soulsville"
"Laura (What's He Got That I Ain't Got)"
b/w "You're the Reason I'm Living"
78 88 37 Laura, What's He Got That I Ain't Got
1968 "Weakness in a Man"
b/w "The Glory of Love" (from Laura, What's He Got That I Ain't Got)
36 Non-album tracks
"Lonely Street"
b/w "Instead (of Loving You)"
"Do Your Own Thing"
b/w "I Just Don't Know What to Do with Myself"
99 128 26
1969 "Touch 'Em with Love"
b/w "She Knows What to Do for Me"
"Nothing Can Take the Place of You"
b/w "Woman Without Love"
74 67 11
1970 "Rainy Night in Georgia"
b/w "Where Do I Go from Here"
4 2 1 2 Brook Benton Today
"My Way"
b/w "A Little Bit of Soap"
72 48 25 35
"Don't It Make You Want to Go Home"
b/w "I've Gotta Be Me" (from Brook Benton Today)
45 48 31 4 Home Style
1971 "Shoes"
b/w "Let Me Fix It" (from Home Style)
67 52 18 18 Story Teller
"Heaven Help Us All"
b/w "Whoever Finds This (I Love You)" (from Home Style)
120 The Gospel Truth
"Take a Look at Your Hands"
b/w "If You Think God Is Dead"
"Please Send Me Someone to Love"
b/w "She Even Woke Me Up to Say Goodbye"
Story Teller
"A Black Child Can't Smile"
b/w "If You Think God Is Dead" (from The Gospel Truth)
Non-album tracks
"Soul Santa"
b/w "Let Us All Get Together with the Lord" (from The Gospel Truth)
1972 "Movin' Day"
b/w "Poor Make Believer"
Story Teller
"If You Got the Time"
b/w "You Take Me Home Honey"
104 Something for Everyone
1973 "Lay Lady Lay"
b/w "A Touch of Class"
107 Non-album tracks
1974 "South Carolina"
b/w "All That Love Went to Waste"
1976 "Can't Take My Eyes Off You"
b/w "Weekend with Feathers"
This Is Brook Benton
1978 "Making Love Is Good for You"
b/w "Better Times"
49 Makin' Love Is Good for You
b/w "Glow Love"
"–" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released in that territory.


  1. ^ Gradischnig, Herwig and Maitner, Hans (2015). Brook Benton: There Goes That Song Again. Music Mentor Books. ISBN 9780956267986.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  2. ^ a b French, Howard (April 10, 1988). "BROOK BENTON, SINGER OF HIT TUNES KNOWN FOR HIS BALLADS, DIES AT 56". The New York Times. Retrieved July 31, 2015.
  3. ^ "Marv Goldberg's R&B Notebooks - THE SANDMEN". Uncamarvy.com. Retrieved August 17, 2015.
  4. ^ Company, Johnson Publishing (May 4, 1963). "Ebony". Johnson Publishing Company – via Google Books.
  5. ^ "You've Got What It Takes", Secondhand Songs. Retrieved 12 January 2018
  6. ^ Singles Discography for Mercury Records - 71000 series, Global Dog Productions. Retrieved 12 January 2018
  7. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2004). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-2004. Record Research. p. 54.
  8. ^ Murrells, Joseph (1978). The Book of Golden Discs (2nd ed.). London, UK: Barrie and Jenkins Ltd. pp. 110–1. ISBN 0-214-20512-6.
  9. ^ Colin Escott, "Clyde Otis: Looking Back". Goldmine, October 1, 1993, pp. 42–43.
  10. ^ a b Bill Dahl. "Brook Benton | Biography". AllMusic. Retrieved August 17, 2015.
  11. ^ The Quiet Man dallasobserver.com Retrieved 14 March 2024
  12. ^ Joel Whitburn, Top Pop Singles 1955–1999 (Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research, 2000), 48–49.
  13. ^ Shaw, Arnold (1978). Honkers and Shouters. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company. p. 463. ISBN 0-02-061740-2.
  14. ^ Colin Larkin, ed. (1993). The Guinness Who's Who of Soul Music (First ed.). Guinness Publishing. p. 20. ISBN 0-85112-733-9.
  15. ^ a b c d e "Brook Benton - Awards". AllMusic. Archived from the original on October 13, 2013. Retrieved July 28, 2022.
  16. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 54. ISBN 1-904994-10-5.

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