THE EARLY WORD: Now It Can Be Told — ‘Benny & The Bums’ Is Actually Ben Vaughn In Disguise!


Now it can be told. Others have been sworn to secrecy, but not us, baby. That’s not the kind of swearing we do around here. We have it on good authority that this so-called ‘Benny & The Bums’ that is allegedly playing the M Room on Sunday is none other than Ben Vaughn in disguise! Not sure the reason for the secrecy, but if true — and we are 99.9% on this — then Sunday night at the M Room is a no-brainer. The grown-ups know what we’re talking about. Kids, school yourselves down below and plan accordingly. Yes, it WILL be on the test.

WHO IS BEN VAUGHN: Ben Vaughn grew up in the Philadelphia area on the New Jersey side of the river. At age 6 his uncle gave him a Duane Eddy record and forever changed his life. In 1983 he formed the Ben Vaughn Combo. The band was together five years, releasing two albums and touring the US several times. They received rave reviews in Rolling Stone and People magazine and video airplay on MTV. The attention inspired Marshall Crenshaw to record Ben’s “I’m Sorry (But So Is Brenda Lee)” for his “Downtown” album.

ben-vaughn2.jpgBen embarked on a solo career from ’88-’94 recording four critically acclaimed albums, touring extensively in Europe and US and receiving more MTV exposure. During that period he produced three records for the Elektra Records American Explorer series (Memphis rockabilly legend Charlie Feathers, Fort Worth gospel saxophonist Vernard Johnson, Muscle Shoals country soul singer Arthur Alexander) and recorded “Cubist Blues”, a collaboration with Alan Vega (Suicide) and Alex Chilton (Big Star). He also scored two films (“Favorite Mopar” and “Wild Girl’s Go-Go Rama”) as well as producing segments for nationally syndicated radio show “World Cafe.”

In 1995, Ben moved to L.A. and released “Instrumental Stylings”, an album of instrumentals in a variety of styles. A guest appearance on KCRW’s “Morning Becomes Eclectic” led directly to being hired as composer for the award-winning TV sitcom “3rd Rock From The Sun.” “That 70s Show” soon followed and for the next ten years Ben would provide award-winning music for a dozen other TV shows and pilots (“Men Behaving Badly”, “Normal, Ohio”, “Grounded For Life”). He also provided scores for several films (“Psycho Beach Party”, “The Independent”, “Scorpion Spring”) and continued producing records (Ween, Los Straitjackets, “Swingers” soundtrack CD). Somehow, Ben found time to create the legendary “Rambler ’65”. Recorded entirely in his car, this much-publicized album (and subsequent short film) is still considered by many to be a classic document of a man and his dream.

Ben’s latest endeavor came about in a very organic fashion. Despite the lure of Hollywood, each weekend Ben would leave the studio lot behind and travel to his Mojave Desert home. Driving late at night, he would tune in Palm Springs easy listening radio station KWXY and let the music run through him. Soon the arrangements of Percy Faith, Paul Mauriat and Henry Mancini became a natural part of his blood stream. Over time it became obvious to him what his next recording project had to be: a modern instrumental album combining the magic of those late night broadcasts with everything he had learned through the years as a TV composer, record producer and recording artist. Thus, “Designs In Music” was born. The album, a vibrant snapshot of instrumental music’s past, present and future, was completed in December 2005 and was released on May 16th on Soundstage 15 Records. MORE

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