Jo Jo Benson

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Jo Jo Benson
Birth name Joseph M. Hewell
Born (1938-04-15)April 15, 1938
Phenix City, Alabama, U.S.
Died December 23, 2014(2014-12-23) (aged 76)
Columbus, Georgia, U.S.
Genres R&B, soul
Occupation(s) Singer, club owner
Labels SSS International
Associated acts Chuck Willis, Peggy Scott

Joseph M. Hewell (April 15, 1938 – December 23, 2014) was an American R&B and soul singer better known under his stage name Jo Jo Benson. He was best known for his recordings in the late 1960s with Peggy Scott.

Life and career[edit]

He was born in Phenix City, Alabama, and began singing in nightclubs when in his teens. He joined Chuck Willis as a backing singer in the 1950s, before joining forces with fellow singer Peggy Scott, who previously backed Ben E. King, in a duo. The pair were heard and encouraged by record producer Huey Meaux,[1] and were recruited by Shelby Singleton's SSS International label in Nashville, Tennessee, in order to record duets.[2] Their first recording for the label, "Lover's Holiday", reached #8 on the Billboard R&B chart and #31 on the pop chart in 1968, eventually becoming a gold record. They followed it up with "Pickin' Wild Mountain Berries", which was also a hit and for which they were nominated for a Grammy.[3] Benson and Scott had two more hits in 1969, "Soulshake" and "I Want to Love You Baby", and released two albums together, Lover's Heaven and Soulshake.[4][5][6]

The pairing of Benson and Scott split up in 1971. Benson later owned several nightclubs in the Chattahoochee Valley, and was seriously wounded in a shooting incident in 1979.[3] He and Scott temporarily reunited in the mid-1980s for an album. In 1999, Benson recorded a solo album, Reminiscing in the Jam Zone, which Living Blues magazine called "among the finest soul albums of the year - indeed, of the decade". In 2001, he followed it up with the album Everybody Loves to Cha Cha Cha.[4]

On December 23, 2014, Jo Jo Benson was found dead at a motel in Columbus, Georgia, at the age of 76. The coroner's office stated that he died of natural causes.[3]


Chart singles with Peggy Scott[edit]

Year Single Chart Positions
US Pop[7] US
1968 "Lover's Holiday" 31 8
"Pickin' Wild Mountain Berries" 27 8
1969 "Soulshake" 37 13
"I Want To Love You Baby" 81 24


With Peggy Scott[edit]

  • Lover's Heaven (1969)
  • Soulshake (1969)


  • Reminiscing in the Jam Zone (1999)
  • Everybody Loves to Cha Cha Cha (2001)


  1. ^ Johnny W. Sumrall, Jr., Classic Magnolia Rock: History of Original Mississippi Rock and Roll 1953-1970, AuthorHouse, 2008.
  2. ^ Stuart Rosenberg, Rock and Roll and the American Landscape: The Birth of an Industry and the Expansion of the Popular Culture, 1955-1969, iUniverse, 2009; p. 95: "One of the best examples of country soul was the duo of Peggy Scott & Jo Jo Benson, who recorded with producer Shelby Singleton in Nashville and whose song 'Soul Shake' was likely the first soul record that featured a steel guitar (played ...Joseph Hewell, in 1941, in Phenix City, Alabama) moved to Pensacola, Florida to begin their career because they wanted to follow Pensacola recording artists James & Bobby Purify. Scott & Benson first teamed up with legendary Texas ..."
  3. ^ a b c Alva James-Johnson, "Jo Jo Benson dies at Victory Drive motel", Ledger-Enquirer, December 23, 2014.
  4. ^ a b Biography by Greg Prato, Retrieved December 23, 2014.
  5. ^ a b Whitburn, Joel (1996). Top R&B/Hip-Hop Singles: 1942-1995. Record Research. p. 391. 
  6. ^ Peggy Scott and Jo Jo Benson, Retrieved December 23, 2014.
  7. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2003). Top Pop Singles 1955-2002 (1st ed.). Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin: Record Research Inc. p. 624. ISBN 0-89820-155-1.