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Ben Hewitt Ben Hewitt - Spirit Of Rock & Roll

catalog number: BCD16200

weight in Kg 0,115


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Ben Hewitt: Ben Hewitt - Spirit Of Rock & Roll

1-CD with 24 -page booklet, 16 tracks. Playing time approx. 48 mns.

You won't find Ben Hewitt in any chart books and he won't even make the footnotes of most histories of rock 'n' roll, but his music said far more about the spirit of rock 'n' roll than anything you'll see on MTV or hear in today's strictly formatted corporate music scene. He was certainly one of our favorite artists here at Bear Family. He'd made a handful of records for Mercury in the '50s, and we discovered him in Niagara Falls, Canada. We brought him over to Germany for our Tenth Anniversary Concert in 1985, and he went over really well, easily eclipsing Jack Scott, the ostensible star of the event. 

Ben Hewitt then recorded an album of new songs for Bear Family, which has now been reissued with the addition of four songs. In it, you'll hear the humour and essential good-naturedness of Ben Hewitt, as well as his unabashed love of good old rock 'n' roll. Titles include Florida Rain, Some Auto Billy Blues, Call Mama On The Phone, Ophelia, and I Wanna Love You Tonight. For new music that really captures the looseness, spirit and informality of the great old records, this should not be matched!' 

Ben Hewitt : The Spirit Of Rock ‘n’ Roll

Sometime in 1983, Bear Family was planning an LP to be split between Ben Hewitt and Eddie Bell. Little was known about either, except that they’d both recorded for Mercury in the late 1950s, and their records had become quite collectible. Ben Hewitt was rumored to be living in Canada, so I called around everyone I knew at record companies and performing rights societies, and--the last anyone had heard--he was living in St. Catharines, Ontario, near Niagara Falls. I called all the Hewitts in the Niagara Falls phone book and found Ben Hewitt easily enough.

One afternoon I drove down, picking up Hank Davis on the way. It was probably the easiest interview either of us has ever done because it essentially consisted of turning on the tape recorder and saying, “Hi, Ben.“  We got the feeling that Ben Hewitt had told his stories about being a Mercury recording artist to anyone who would listen, but no one much was listening. Maybe that sort of thing doesn’t carry much cachet with the Tuscarora Indian community around the Falls. Suddenly, he had two people in his living room who were ready to be impressed. Hank brought along his copy of Ben Hewitt’s Whirlwind Blues as a token of our interest. The interview was one of the best shows Ben Hewitt had ever given.

We scratched together enough for a complete LP by Ben Hewitt, and it came out in 1984. Right afterwards, Hank Davis called Ben Hewitt and asked him what he thought. “It’s fine,“ said Ben Hewitt. “No problem.“ A pause. Finally, “Aw shit, there ain’t no use pretending, I cried when I saw it. It just felt so good. After all this time, to see something like that. It’s beautiful. I just couldn’t believe it.“ A year or so later, Ben Hewitt went to Europe to perform at Bear Family’s 10th Anniversary Show. He was drinking but he was a happy drunk. He went over really well, easily eclipsing Jack Scott, the ostensible star of the event. He recorded an album of new songs for Bear Family, which (with the addition of four songs) is the CD you have here. In it, you hear the humour and essential good-naturedness of Ben Hewitt, as well as his unabashed love of  good old rock ‘n’ roll.

From time to time I wondered what had happened to Ben, but I didn’t know how to get hold of him. You get busy and tend to let these things slide. Then, sadly, Bear Family got a note from his daughter saying that he had died on December 8, 1996. He was 61. You won’t find him in any chart books and he won’t even make the footnotes of most histories of rock ‘n’ roll, but for all that his music said far more about the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll than anything you’ll see on MTV or hear in today’s strictly formatted corporate music environment.


1-CD with 24 -page booklet, 16 tracks. Playing time approx. 48 mns



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Artikeleigenschaften von Ben Hewitt: Ben Hewitt - Spirit Of Rock & Roll

  • Interpret: Ben Hewitt

  • Albumtitel: Ben Hewitt - Spirit Of Rock & Roll

  • Format CD
  • Genre Rock 'n' Roll

  • Music Genre Rock 'n' Roll
  • Music Style Rock & Roll
  • Music Sub-Genre 201 Rock & Roll
  • Title Spirit Of Rock & Roll

  • Price code AH
  • SubGenre Rock - Rock'n'Roll

  • EAN: 4000127162007

  • weight in Kg 0.115

Artist description "Hewitt, Ben"



Pop music history tends to revolve around chart placings, which means that Ben Hewitt doesn't exist. Not a footnote. Not even bubbling under. But that's selling Ben Hewitt short. His story is not only interesting in its own right, but it tells us a lot about the second generation of rock 'n' rollers. Ben wasn't one of the creators who helped put the music together; he was among the first kids who heard rock 'n' roll and decided that it was for them, and decided that it spoke to them in a way that no other music could.

These recordings were made for Mercury in the late Fifties. At that time, Mercury's New York office was run by Clyde Otis, a black songwriter who earned the Mercury post by cowriting and producing the Diamonds' recording of The Stroll. Otis's major acts at the time were Brook Benton and Dinah Washington, but you won't hear the lush productions that characterised his work with them. Instead, Otis kept the sound rooted in Fifties rock 'n' roll. He seems to have had faith that Ben could deliver a hit for him, and two or three of these songs could very easily have become major hits in the late Fifties. Then the story would have been very different. Like many Fifties hitmakers, Ben could have made a decent living trading off past glories; instead, he was working in country bars around Niagara Falls, Canada when Hank Davis and I went to interview him in 1986, and had fallen on very hard times when he died ten years later in December 1996.

What follows is a transcript of the interview that Hank Davis and I did with Ben in 1986. It was used verbatim as the liner notes for the LP version of this record. Usually, we prefer not to use verbatim interviews as liner note text, but Ben told his own story so compellingly that it was senseless to render it any other way. - COLIN ESCOTT


Q: Let's begin with some standard biographical questions like when and where you were born?

BH: I was born on September 11, 1935 in a one room dirt floor log cabin on the Tuscarora Indian Reservation in New York State.

Q: When did you get your first guitar?

BH: I wanted a guitar from the time I was nine or ten. I kept bugging my father and finally when I was about twelve he broke down and bought me a ukulele. About a year or so later, I got my first guitar, a $12 Stella. That thing would make your fingers bleed and would go out of tune while you were changing chords. An old guy named Clayton Green taught me the basics. He made his own guitar picks out of the ivory on piano keys. Tom T.Hall had his Clayton Delaney, I had my Clayton Green.

Q: What kind of music influenced you?

BH: I love Sun Records. I was a real nut for that stuff. The earliest Sun Record I have was Just Walkin' In The Rain by the Prisionaires. I used to love Ubangi Stomp. You ever heard Chicken Hearted by Roy Orbinson? Great stuff! Remember Dixie Fried by Carl Perkins?

Q: You were obviously influenced by Elvis Presley?

BH: People who saw me performing in a bar somewhere would call me Elvis. Years later some of them would swear up an down that they had seen Elvis perform in a bar. But when I was up there performing I wasn't doing Elvis; I was doing my hero, Little Richard Penniman. I saw him on a package show, Ruth Brown was the headliner. He was hot with Ready Teddy at that time. I was awestruck by the drive of this man. About six months later he came to the Zanzibar Club in Buffalo and I was there on Monday night and I caught every show that week. I even booked off work to go see him. I blew a fortune there. He had a band that wouldn't quit. They came out first and opened with all the old Red Prysock numbers. When I went back to do my act that's who I was doing. Little Richard. Shakin' my ass, carrying' on, doing flip flops.

Q: How did you get signed by Mercury?

BH: I was playing this little bar over in the States. A place called DeFazios in Niagara Falls. This guy kept coming in and buying the band the odd round. His name was Julian Langford. I swear he looked exactly like Col. Tom Parker. He was up from Florida working construction in the area. Langford asked us what we'd charge to do some demos for him. He thought of himself as a songwriter but he had the same tune to everything he wrote. He'd come to us week after week and sing us the newest song he'd written. They all sounded the same. The lyrics were nothing you'd jump up an down about either. For the hell of it I said, "We'll do it on one condition. You gotta supply the booze. We'd like a bottle rye and some ice... Plus you gotta pay $20 a piece and rental for the hall." That was a total rip off 'cause we got the hall for nothing. So we split that money also. Of all the songs he gave me, there was only one I didn't change a word or note of. That was Whirlwind Blues. All I did was arrange the version we did on record. Some of the other songs were Queen In The Kingdom Of My Heart which I wrote but Langford's name was on the lead sheet. I even went to BMI about ten years ago and explained it to them. I said, "They're not making any money, but it would be nice if I got the credit as a composer that was coming to me. Even put them as Langford-Hewitt. Let Somebody think they were written by a guy with a hyphenated name." Bundle Of Love was also credited to Langford even though I wrote it. So anyway, we made this tape for him. We got to the end of it and I asked if I could throw a song of my own on it. He said, "Sure, why not?" He was feeling generous by that time' cause he had gotten everything he wanted. We took what's left of the bottles over to my apartment and we got so drunk we could have laid on the floor and fell off it. About a week later there was banging on the door at six o'clock in the morning. It's Julian and he says "Hey, get packed. We're going to New York City." I said "We're going nowhere! Especially at six o'clock in the morning." But he keeps it up. He says, "Look, I got you a record contract!" A contract with Mercury Records!" I said, "Sure you do. You want me to go? I'll go on one condition. You hand me a round-trip ticket and it stays in my possession." He says,"Okay, it's a deal. I'll be back in a little while." So he comes back in a while and drags me off to a lawyer. In the meantime he's had this lawyer draw up this management contract. It's a shitkicker, man. I mean, I don't fart sideways without giving him 15% of it. I said, "I'll sign this if you put a rider on it that says I can play DeFazios whenever I want and I don't have to pay you nothing."  He says, "Yeah, Okay."  His thinking is "You're going to be a star, you won't ever play DeFazios again."

So we got to New York City and we're staying at one of the neater hotels. There was a lot of great record stores in the area at that time. So the next day we get up and he marches us off to Mercury Records. We kept thinking, "Yeah, sure, we'll play your little game." I kept thinking, "This man is shucking it through right to the end." Then we walk up to this really neat looking receptionist and she says, "Oh Mr. Langford. Mr. Otis is expecting you." This was on a Tuesday and we recorded on Thursday night. Years later I found out that Clyde Otis didn't want Langford's material. He wanted You Break Me Up.

Meanwhile, while we're there, angford goes out and gets a New York entertainment lawyer to make a new contract, even tighter than the last one. This new one is for five or six years and he didn't have to do a damn thing for me.

Ben Hewitt You Got Me Shook
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