19 July 1932
Texarkana, Bowie County, Texas, United States
20 January 1996 (aged 63)
Arley Benton was born in Texarkana, Arkansas.
Whilst residing in Toledo, Ohio, during the mid 1950's, and having been influenced by Sam Cooke and B.B. King, Benton began playing blues music. By 1959, he was leading his own band in Chicago. During the 1960's, local record labels, such as Melloway, Alteen, Sonic, and Twinight Records released several Benton singles, before in 1971 he joined Willie Dixon.
Indeed, a lack of opportunity in the early 1960's meant that Benton gave up playing professionally for several years, and he worked as an auto mechanic. Benton's earlier work was an amalgam of blues and soul, which he confusingly dubbed 'disco blues'. However, according to Music journalist, Bill Dahl, "in the late 1970s, when the popularity of blues music was at low ebb, Benton's recordings, particularly for Ronn Records, were a breath of fresh air."
Benton became a fixture in Dixon's Blues All-Stars for some time. A 1973 album by Dixon's Blues All-Stars, featuring Benton, The All Star Blues World Of Maestro Willie Dixon and his Chicago Blues Band, was issued on Spivey Records.
Dixon was credited as the songwriter of Benton's best known song, "Spider in My Stew." Released on the Shreveport-based Jewel Records label, it gave Benton a modicum of fame, and his 1974 follow-up, "Money Is the Name of the Game", helped to cement his standing. Benton's 1978 effort for Jewel's Ronn Records subsidiary (also titled Spider in My Stew) became recognized as one of the more engaging Chicago blues albums of its time.
Benton recorded three further albums on the Ichiban label, but in comparison to his work on the Ronn label, they were uncommercial. One such LP offering was 1989's, Money's The Name of The Game, produced by Gary B.B. Coleman. Benton also issued a record on the Blue Phoenix label. Benton's fortitude did not go unnoticed. He suffered from the effects of diabetes and received dialysis for the final years of his life.
In addition, in 1993, part of his right leg was amputated due to poor circulation, having already lost a portion of the other some ten years previously. He soldiered on, playing his brand of the blues up to his death. However, as journalist, Tony Russell, stated in his book The Blues: From Robert Johnson to Robert Cray, Benton "never found another money spider".
Benton died in January 1996, in Chicago, from the effects of diabetes, at age 63.
His work has appeared on a number of compilation albums, including Chicago Blues Festival: 1969-1986 (2001).
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