George Benson facts: Singer's age, wife, children and career explained

23 October 2023, 12:46

George Benson in 2001
George Benson in 2001. Picture: Getty

By Tom Owen

George Benson is one of the most influential and versatile musicians in the history of jazz and pop.

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He is a master guitarist, singer, and songwriter who has explored various genres and styles throughout his long and successful career.

From soul jazz and hard bop to pop and R&B, George Benson has always displayed his supreme taste, skill, and creativity in every musical endeavour.

  1. How old is George Benson and where was he born?

    George Benson At The Oriental Theater in 2004
    George Benson At The Oriental Theater in 2004. Picture: Getty

    George Benson is 80 years old as of 2023, and he was born on March 22, 1943 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States.

    George Benson’s parents were Irma Benson and Charles Evans. He was born out of wedlock and his father married another woman while serving in World War II. His mother had only just turned 15 when she gave birth to George.

    His mother later married Thomas Lee Collier, who taught him how to play the guitar.

  2. How did George Benson get his start in music?

    George Benson
    George Benson. Picture: Getty

    George Benson got his start in music when he was a child. He was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, and he started singing in church choirs at the age of seven.

    He also learned how to play the ukulele and the guitar, and he performed in a corner drug store and an unlicensed nightclub when he was eight and nine years old, respectively.

    He recorded his first single, 'She Makes Me Mad', when he was nine, under the name George Benson. He later attended and graduated from Schenley High School, where he played in the school band.

    George began his professional career as a jazz guitarist at the age of 19, playing with organist Jack McDuff and others. He recorded his first album as a leader, The New Boss Guitar, in 1964.

    He then signed with Columbia Records and released several albums with his own quartet, featuring Lonnie Smith on organ and Ronnie Cuber on baritone saxophone. He also played as a session musician for artists such as Miles Davis and Freddie Hubbard.

    He achieved greater success in the 1970s, when he switched to pop and R&B music. He signed with CTI Records and collaborated with producer Creed Taylor on albums such as White Rabbit and Body Talk. He then moved to Warner Bros. Records and released his breakthrough album Breezin' in 1976, which topped the Billboard 200 chart and featured the hit single 'This Masquerade', which won a Grammy Award for Record of the Year.

    He continued to record and perform in various genres and styles, winning more awards and recognition for his musical talent.

  3. What are George Benson's most famous songs?

    George Benson - Give Me The Night (Official Music Video) [HD Remaster]

    Among George Benson's biggest songs include:

    • Never Give Up on a Good Thing
    • In Your Eyes
    • Nothing's Gonna Change My Love for You (later covered by Glenn Medeiros)
    • Turn Your Love Around
    • The Greatest Love of All (later covered by Whitney Houston)
    • This Masquerade
    • Breezin'
    • Give Me the Night
  4. Who is George Benson's wife and does he have children?

    George And Johnnie Benson back in 1977
    George And Johnnie Benson back in 1977. Picture: Getty

    George Benson's wife is Johnnie Lee, whom he married back in 1965.

    They have six sons together: Robert, Marcus, Christopher, Stephen, George Jr, and Johnnie Jr.

    He also had a son named Keith Givens from his previous marriage to Betty Jane Givens. The marriage only lasted a year, and tragically Kevin was killed in 1991.