I'm writing this around one o'clock in the afternoon on Monday, June 29th.
I was sitting in my makeshift, lockdown recording studio when I read the news that Singer/Songwriter Benny Mardones had passed away at the age of 73. When I read the headline from Billboard, I can't say that I was shocked. However, that didn't keep the sadness from setting in quickly. I had known that Benny was ailing. His recent battles with Parkinson's had been somewhat publicized and I had tried to keep in touch with him over the years. During the past two years, those moments grew fewer and farther between.
Some of you might remember that I was, albeit for a very short time, a member of Benny's backing band (I was known back then as Tyler Cole). The Hurricanes. I played rhythm guitar and handled some backing vocals as well. I was with him during a promotional run for his 1989 Curb Records release Benny Mardones (which many fans came to call the Blue Album). That release included a couple re-recordings of Benny classics. How Could You Love Me and the iconic Into The Night. Most of you know that Into The Night scored big in 1980, reaching #11 on the Billboard Charts. The re-recording, nearly ten years later, did almost as well reaching #20. That was unheard of for a song to reach the Top 40 twice in a matter of a decade.
I'm not writing this because I had the opportunity to play in Benny's band. I'm writing this because Benny Mardones was one of my childhood musical idols. It's true. I grew up listening to the music my older sister listened to and Benny was a part of her soundtrack. And I, as every good little brother does, took most of her albums by artists ranging from Peter Frampton, The Bee Gees, Blondie, The Knack and Kiss. But it was Benny's Never Run, Never Hide and soon after Too Much To Lose, that caught my ear and hung on for many decades to follow. To this day I still believe Too Much To Lose to be one of the most underrated AOR Rock albums ever released. Period. It should have been a huge success.
Years ago I wrote, right here on this blog, about my first meeting with Benny, my fandom, my stay with his band and our last musical connections in 2008. Somewhere, I've saved that entry and maybe, as time passes, I'll post some of it again. For now, I just want to remember the person I knew for one don't-blink moment in my life. While I remember Benny, I'll probably take a listen to those albums that helped forge my musical endeavors.
Benny, thank you for your music, your voice, your smile. You will be missed.
My deepest condolences to Benny's wife Jane, his son Michael, sister Louise, and to Benny's entire family of friends and loved ones.
Here's Billboard's remembrance.