John Benitez  

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"Indeed , time may show that Madonna has been as much the ladder as the climber. Association with her did not hurt Steve Bray, John Benitez and Nick Kamen one bit."--Sex & Sensibility (1992) by Julie Burchill

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John "Jellybean" Benitez (born November 7, 1957) is a drummer, guitarist, songwriter, DJ, remixer and music producer of Puerto Rican descent. Benitez is known for producing the first hits of and for his relationship with Madonna.


Early years

Benitez's mother emigrated from Puerto Rico in the early 1950s and settled in the South Bronx section of New York. She raised three children as a single mother, Benitez being the second child. Born in New York City, he grew up enjoying listening to music, usually playing his sister's record collection. His sister nicknamed him "Jellybean" because he was always eating that type of candy. Benitez attended De Witt Clinton and John F. Kennedy High Schools but dropped out before graduating.

When he relocated to Manhattan in 1975, Benitez was exposed to disco nightclubs, which sparked his interest in DJing. He was soon performing at a nightclub called Experiment 4 and in 1980 Benitez enrolled and attended Bronx Community College, where he studied Marketing and Sales Promotions.

Benitez was soon an in-demand DJ, which led to work at Electric Circus and Studio 54. In 1981 he was hired as the resident DJ of the club Funhouse. Benitez also hosted a weekend dance radio show at WKTU.

Relationship with Madonna

Benitez started to remix singles, such as Jimmy Spicer's "The Bubble Bunch", The Rockers "Walking on Sunshine" and Afrika Bambaataa's "Planet Rock". Stephen Bray of the group Breakfast Club went to Benitez for a remix. This led to Benitez being introduced to Bray's bandmate at the time, Madonna. A romantic relationship developed between the two that lasted about two years. Benitez became involved with producing and remixing a bulk of the tracks on Madonna's self-titled debut album in 1983, including "Everybody", "Physical Attraction", "Borderline", Lucky Star" and "Holiday".

Mixing other artists

Eventually Benitez remixed songs for such artists as La India, Whitney Houston, George Benson, Shalamar, Jocelyn Brown, Patti Austin, Sheena Easton, James Ingram, Hall & Oates, Billy Joel, The Pointer Sisters, Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney.

He had solo hits with "The Real Thing" (UK #13 in 1987), which featured Steven Dante, "Who Found Who" (UK #10 in 1988), with Elisa Fiorillo, and "Just A Mirage" (UK #13 in 1988), with vocals by Adele Bertei.

When Jocelyn Brown's voice was used on the single/dub version of the worldwide Snap! hit single, The Power, Jellybean admitted that he turned the rights to the song , "Love's Gonna Get You" (from which the lines "It's getting kinda heavy", and "He could break my heart", were sampled from) over to Snap!'s producers. Brown later said of this:

"I thought I had been cheated. That I had been ripped off. That no one even cared about the fact that, how I was the singer there and no one paid me. No one respected the fact that they got it from there. No one acknowledged me or anything, it was very painful, it was... it's very hard to know that everyone else was living of that, but me. It's still to this day - it's the same exact way. The very serious rights. It was only because Jellybean gave the rights and didn't respect anybody else, and he knows that." [1]

Soundtrack works

Among the motion picture soundtracks for which he created and mixed tunes are Back to the Future, Top Gun, Flashdance and Footloose.

"Jellybean" moniker

Benitez produced and released music under the Jellybean moniker; in total he has placed nine songs in the Top 10 of the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart, including three number ones. He has employed many vocalists to sing on his productions including Madonna, Elisa Fiorillo, Steven Dante, Adele Bertei, Richard Darbyshire and Niki Haris. His 1984 cover of Babe Ruth's "The Mexican" (for which he recruited the vocals of its original singer, Janita Haan) is regarded as a pivotal moment in the electro-hip hop underground scene.

Two of his dance hits crossed over to pop radio and hit the Billboard Hot 100 Top 20: "Sidewalk Talk" in 1986 (#18) and "Who Found Who" in 1987 (#16).


Currently, Benitez owns Jellybean Productions, JB Recording and JB Publishing. In 1995, he founded the now-defunct H.O.L.A. (House Of Latin Artists) Recording which develops hip hop and R&B music by bilingual artists and releases the recordings in both English and Spanish. Voices of Theory was signed to this label.

On September 19, 2005, Benitez was inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame for his achievements as a DJ.

Selected credits

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "John Benitez" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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