I’ve been exchanging emails with UK DJ, Edit supremo, and music historian, Greg Wilsonhttps://blog.gregwilson.co.uk/writing-interviews-features/ about George Benson’s much overlooked, and somewhat complicated track “Supership“. More on that another day.
In my filing/indexing folders I noticed that today, September 27th, in 1994, the “Kermit Unpigged” album was released. George Benson worked hard for his fame. When it eventually came via the Tommy LiPuma produced albums, George knew he’d arrived when the Muppets came knocking.
George appeared May 24th, 1979 (episode 1314) and on three episodes of Sesame Street Series-11 starting in January, 1980(1357, 1401, 1419)). I couldn’t find easily accessible/stream’able for Benson’s performances in Season-11 of Sesame Street where he sang various children’s songs including “The Alphabet Song“, “London Bridge” and “Old MacDonald“.
Benson’s last appearance on the street was on the March 4th, 1981 episode in which Benson sang “The Greatest Love of All”, accompanied by pianist Michael Masser who also wrote the music for the song. Linda Creed wrote the lyrics. Based on the power of the lyrics and the setting, the Benson finale might be considered the best?
For Benson, a devoted family man, appearing on Sesame Street would have been both an honor and a privilege.
While scrambling around to write this post, I found this clip of Benson on Youtube, singing with Olivia Robinson, played by actress Alainia Reedhttps://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alaina_Reed_Hall. The clip is from espisode 1314.
By 1994, the Muppets were legend, and had their first feature film and would go on and make a number of others. In 1994, it was deemed a good idea to take advantage of the MTV inspired unplugged movement. This typically took rock musicians and set them in an acoustic only environment to perform their hits.
The Muppets twist on this was “Kermit Unpigged“, a play on unplugged and without Kermit’s sidekick Miss Piggy. The CD albumhttps://www.discogs.com/master/442771-Kermit-Unpigged featured unlikely collaborators Vince Gill, Linda Ronstadt, Ozzy Osbourne, Jimmy Buffett, Don Henly and Harry Smith.
The George Benson track was a version of “On Broadway” performed by George Benson and Clifford with the Rhythm Rats, who we learn don’t just know “On Broadway“, they live under it. Released on this day in 1994, enjoy!
Thanks to the Muppet Fandom Wiki for all the background information and episode detail.
One Reply to “On This Day: George Benson and The Rats”
Mark, thanks for this interesting and entertaining background on George Benson’s connections with Sesame Street on PBS. I remember seeing him on one episode, as both my sons watched the show as children.
Your readers may be interested in listening to these George Benson broadcast recordings on FM Radio Archive: https://archive.org/details/fmradioarchive?query=george+benson There are 2 shows with his band, 2 with the CTI All Stars and 2 with B.B. King. All are from the period between 1973 to 1978.
Enjoy! – Kim Paris, FM Radio Archive