George Benson on the time he met Jimi Hendrix, how Peter Frampton changed the course of his career and what Paul McCartney made of his Beatles tribute

George Benson performs on stage during Festival Jardins de Pedralbes at Jardins de Pedralbes on July 4, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain.
(Image credit: Jordi Vidal/Redferns)

George Benson really wants to talk about the new album he’s cutting. It’s his first studio recording since 2019’s Walking to New Orleans, and as he says, “It’s going to be something really special.”

He starts to divulge a detail or two, then abruptly stops. “Well, that’s about all I can say right now,” he says. When pressed for any kinds of tidbits, he laughs and relents every so slightly. “I can't let out exactly what it is, but it's something different from anything I’ve ever done, and I’m working one of the top arrangers of our time. That's about as far as I can go with that. I’m keeping it under my hat for now.”

In actual fact, musically speaking, there isn’t much that the 80-year-old guitar legend hasn’t done. After cutting his teeth in organist “Brother” Jack McDuff’s jazz band in the early ‘60s, Benson struck out on his own and released The New Boss Guitar of George Benson. From there, he never looked back.

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Joe Bosso

Joe is a freelance journalist who has, over the past few decades, interviewed hundreds of guitarists for Guitar World, Guitar Player, MusicRadar and Classic Rock. He is also a former editor of Guitar World, contributing writer for Guitar Aficionado and VP of A&R for Island Records. He’s an enthusiastic guitarist, but he’s nowhere near the likes of the people he interviews. Surprisingly, his skills are more suited to the drums. If you need a drummer for your Beatles tribute band, look him up.