George Benson grew up in Pittsburgh, though he has lived in New Jersey for most of his adult life — in Englewood, Englewood Cliffs and Tenafly, to be specific. He currently spends most of his time in Arizona. though he still owns a home in Englewood. And he was living in New Jersey when he entered the pop Top 10 for the first time with, arguably, his greatest recording, his scintillating live version of “On Broadway.”
It wasn’t a new song. Written by Barry Mann, Cynthia Weil, Jerry Leiber and Mike Stoller, it had been a Top 10 hit for The Drifters in 1983, and had been recorded by many other artists as well. But Benson totally reinvented it, with a new, aggressive beat, a storytelling vocal approach and some incredible scatting.
The hit version came from his 1978 live double album, Weekend in L.A. (recorded at the West Hollywood Roxy Theater), but below is a live 1986 version that is looser, longer and, I feel, even more dynamic.
New Jersey celebrated its 350th birthday in 2014. And in the 350 Jersey Songs series, we marked the occasion by posting 350 songs — one a day, from September 2014 to September 2015 — that have something to do with the state, its musical history, or both. To see the entire list, click here.