Benny Golson Biography

c. 1995


Multi-talented Benny Golson is an acclaimed musical artist who is at home in nearly every idiom of modern music. He is a composer, arranger, lyricist, producer - and a saxophonist of world note. His influence has had an impact on jazz, middle-of-the-road, and on motion pictures, television and records.

Educated at Howard University, Mr. Golson began his jazz career in Philadelphia, his home, later shifting his activities to New York City where he began to gain fame as a saxophonist with such bands as Dizzy Gillespie, Art Blakey, Earl Bostic, Lionel Hampton, Benny Goodman, The Farmer/Golson Jazztet and even his own group.

He moved to Hollywood for a few years at which time he wrote scores for M*A*S*H*, Mission: Impossible, Room 222, The Partridge Family, Mannix, David Janssen's feature film, Where It's At, music for the Academy Awards, Run For Your Life, Mod Squad, The Karen Valentine Show, pilots for ABC, NBC, CBS and specials for BBC in London as well as feature films in Paris, France and Munich, Germany.

His writing chores have included writing music for Diana Ross, Connie Francis, Eartha Kitt, Lou Rawls, Nancy Wilson, Mama Cass Elliot, Percy Faith, Carmen McRae, Ella Fitzgerald, Peggy Lee, Mickey Rooney, Oscar Peterson, Sammy Davis, Jr., Benny Goodman, Mel Torme, Miles Davis, John Byner, George Shearing, Dinah Washington, Quincy Jones, John Coltrane, Dizzy Gillespie and others.

Mr. Golson also writes music for national radio and television spots for some of the major advertising agencies in the country. Some of the products are: Canada Dry, Nissan, Chrysler, Dodge, Chevrolet, Gillette, Heinz Foods, Mattel Toys, Texaco, Orbach's, Liquid Plum'r, General Telephone, Monsanto, Carnation, Borateem, Parliament Cigarettes and others.

In 1987 the State Department sent him on a cultural tour of southeast Asia to New Zealand, Indonesia, Malaysia, Burma and Singapore, after which Philip Morris International sent him on assignment to Bangkok, Thailand to write music for the Bangkok Symphony Orchestra.

In addition to being a lecturer at major universities, he is an international recording artist who has recorded over 30 albums under his own name and innumerable ones with other major artists. A great number of these major artists continue to eagerly record his songs, many of which have long since become jazz standards.

Lectured, Performed and/or Gave Clinics

New York University, New York City

Stanford University, California

University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Rutgers University, New Brunswick, New Jersey

William Paterson College, Wayne, New Jersey

Appalachian University, Boone, North Carolina

Berklee School of Music, Boston, Massachusetts