Sammy Benskin

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Samuel Benskin (September 27, 1922 – August 26, 1992) was an African American pianist and bandleader.

He was born in The Bronx, New York City, and made his professional debut around 1940 as piano accompanist to singer and guitarist Bardu Ali. He worked throughout the 1940s with jazz musicians including Stuff Smith, Benny Morton and Don Redman. By the early 1950s he had begun leading his own piano trio, as well as appearing as a soloist and as accompanist to singers including Roy Hamilton and Al Hibbler. In 1954 he also joined a group, The Three Flames, which also featured Tiger Haynes. Later in the 1950s he worked as accompanist to Dinah Washington.[1]

In 1959, with a band credited as The Spacemen, he recorded an instrumental, "The Clouds", written and produced by Julius Dixson and issued on Dixson's Alton record label. Other session musicians playing on the record were Panama Francis, Haywood Henry, and Babe Clark.[2] The song originally had vocals, which Dixson removed, releasing the instrumental version[3] This rose to # 1 on the Billboard R&B chart, and # 41 on the pop chart. "The Clouds" was the first number one on any chart released by an African-American owned independent record label, predating Motown's first # 1 by a year.[4]

From the 1960s Benskin worked primarily as a vocal coach, arranger and producer. In 1986 he recorded an album in Paris for the Black & Blue record label, These Foolish Songs, which was reissued on CD in 2002.[5] He died in Teaneck, New Jersey, aged 69.


  1. ^ Sammy Benskin: Information and Much More from
  2. ^ Joel Whitburn, Top Pop Singles 1955-2002, Billboard, 2003, ISBN 0-89820-155-1
  3. ^ Information provided by Julius Dixson's son.
  4. ^ . See also Talk:Julius Dixson, for information refuting the idea that the record was produced by Vinnie Bell.
  5. ^ These Foolish Songs by Sammy Benskin on MSN Music