John Benitez was born in the Bronx and grew up in the New York City area. He began working as a disco club DJ in the mid-seventies, eventually working his way up to a job at Studio 54. When the disco scene began to fade in the early eighties, he moved into the dance scene and began making remix versions of hit records. He began using the moniker Jellybean for his work.
Madonna noticed Jellybean’s talent and when she began work on her first album, she asked him to write and produce a song for her album. He suggested using a song written by Curtis Hutson and Lisa Stevens of the group Pure Energy and produced the record himself. The result was Madonna’s first Hot 100 single in 1983, Holiday.
Jellybean created his own EP in 1984. Madonna had written the song Sidewalk Talk and Jellybean convinced her to let him record it for the EP. Jellybean recorded lead vocals by singer Catherine Buchanan over Madonna’s singing to create a duet. The single reached #18 in early 1986.
Jellybean began work on his own album in 1987. He recorded the album using a collection of relatively unknown singers. One singer was Elisa Fiorillo. She was born in Philadelphia and moved to California with her mother in 1985. She entered and won the Star Search talent show that year when she was only 15 years old. Jellybean asked her to sing lead vocals on two of the songs on his album. Who Found Who was released as a single. The single peaked at #16 on the Hot 100 and reached the top ten on the US Dance chart.
Elisa recorded backup vocals for Prince’s album Graffiti Bridge and finally had her own solo hit with the release of On The Way Up in 1990. The single reached #27 and was her last top forty release. She continued to sing backup vocals for many artists and even toured with Prince in 2010. She was still working with Prince until his death. She also began directing television shows.
Jellybean continued creating remix versions of hit records. He now works for SiriusXM satellite radio. He is the producer for the Studio 54 channel. That channel concentrates on playing disco and dance music from the seventies and eighties.