1976 George Benson – This Masquerade
George Benson was born in 1943 and made his recording debut in 1954 when RCA released his single version of She Makes Me Mad. The record company promoted the artist as “Little Georgie” but put George Benson on the record label. While he didn’t release any more records while in elementary school, junior high school, or high school, he did become more proficient at playing jazz guitar. By 1964, George was leading his own band and recording new albums almost every year.
Most of his work was jazz or R&B instrumentals, often covering songs from other fields with his distinctive guitar work. In 1970, he released an album that covered songs from the Beatles’ Abby Road and included his vocal performances on Here Comes The Sun and Something. The title song on a 1972 album included an instrumental cover of Jefferson Airplane’s White Rabbit.
George took a turn towards pop music in 1976 with the release of his first album for Warner Brothers, Breezin’. Leon Russell wrote This Masquerade and included the song on his Carney album. They put Leon’s version on the B-side of his 1972 hit, Tight Rope.
George recorded a jazzy version of This Masquerade on Breezin’ that became a single in 1977. The record spent two weeks at number ten on the Hot 100 and spent three more weeks slowly falling out of the top forty. It did even better on the Adult Contemporary chart, where it peaked at #4.
A lot of the charting information stopped mattering when the single later won the Grammy Award for Record of the Year. George went on to earn ten Grammy awards between 1977 and 2007 – half for his instrumentals, and half for his vocal performances.
In recent years, oldies stations seem more willing to play three other top ten singles George recorded: On Broadway (#7 in 1978), Give Me The Night (#4 in 1980), and Turn Your Love Around (#5 in 1981).
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