Few careers have been as rich and variegated as that of 76-year-old guitarist extraordinaire George Benson. Born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, he cut his first record at age 10, singing sweetly on a catchy R&B single titled “She Makes Me Mad.” In 1964, at 21, he recorded The New Boss Guitar, his debut album as a leader. On six more largely straightahead jazz albums released under his name during the 1960s, he slowly but steadily established his credentials as a first-rate instrumentalist and the heir apparent to the great Wes Montgomery.
A couple of months ago, Benson took an honest stab at early rock ’n’ roll with the release of Walking to New Orleans: Remembering Chuck Berry and Fats Domino. The record — 10 faithful covers of classic fare from seminal influences Berry and Domino — sounds like nothing Benson has done previously, and he’s happy about that. In today’s episode of JAZZIZ Not What You Think, JAZZIZ Publisher Michael Fagien sits down with the guitar legend to reminisce about the new album and his fascinating life in music.