Hot new British guitarist Benny Sutton is probably the most overlooked player of his generation! Why?
"Well I’ve never compromised. I was a white British kid playing Black American music. Wrong place, wrong time – the story of my life!"
The New Jeff Beck?
There are some parallels; they’re both ‘mature’ British guitarists who defy categorisation, though each could be said to be jazz fusion players disguised as rockers.
"I don’t know who said that…But that’s a good thing, right? Jeff has a lot to admire; totally original, played with everyone from Stevie Wonder to Stanley Clarke, a band to die for. Yet he’s always been underrated, unbelievable! I’d love to nick his band. It would save me having to play all the parts myself!
Jeff was once asked to be a Rolling Stone. I’m still too young (by a good 10 years) to be a Rolling Stone so I’d say no too! The new Jeff Beck - you decide! "
"Hey, I've also recently been called the 'Soundcloud Satriani' - who's he? ;-)"
Why not help Benny become a pop star?
"Yeah right, like that’s going to happen! Honestly all I aspire to is to be heard. So as you go around the Internet let me know you’re listening. Press the like button, leave a comment – pretty please."
Benny has been playing 40 years, but with a 20 year break in the middle! Why?
"My first attempt at a musical career was systematically ignored by the music industry of the day. True, I was signed by a couple of labels, including a stint at EMI but due to weird fate and bad luck nothing came of my efforts and I eventually gave up, got a ‘real’ job, and put my Ovation Breadwinner in the loft for 20 years.
"Music remained very important to me during my dry spell. I kept up with my main man, Steely Dan guitarist, Larry Carlton. When I finally got my guitar out of the loft I was surprised to find I could play Larry’s licks - I’d never had before – double weird!"
Ben rediscovered music in 2009 through home computer based recording software.
"If only digital audio tools had been available back when I first started! Technology now allows me to play all the instruments (at home) - so I took up keyboards as a convenient way to balance my guitar."
Ben plays mostly original compositions, few covers. Why?
"I have always been a songwriter first, guitarist second Original style is vitally important. I have done the odd cover (in my style). I know a lot of acts do covers for YouTube, hoping to find the audience from the original. Only Dirty Loops have pulled it off – by reminding us dinosaurs how to play fusion."
What about the future?
"I’m finally getting to a place I’m comfortable with in defining my music. I’m not so much obsessed with genre (I’ve always crossed over) but more to do with heart and energy.
I’ve deliberately been writing tracks to suit a live band recently. The economics of putting one together may be prohibitive but who knows? Coming to a venue near you…"
Ovation Breadwinner. They only produced them for three years.
"Mine turned vintage on me, or I turned vintage on it, depending on your point of view!"
"My musical talent is the result of a misspent youth. They say you need to put in 10,000 hours (5 hours a day for 10 years) to become really good (at anything). I guess I paid my dues in that respect from age 16 to 25. That’s my claim – so I don’t need to practice now! "
Ben’s musical influences go back to the 60’s blues boom, hence the bluesy feel. Aged 19 he moved to London from the North of England along with fellow band members of Inspector Lloyd an eclectic prog rock band and was soon signed to Fresh Air records.
People declare the 60’s as the most exciting musical decade but the period in the early 70’s was when pop music matured into something recognisable in Ben’s sound now. Seventies music became slicker, as epitomised by mainly black American music. This was the era of Steely Dan, Miles Davis, Little Feat, Stevie Wonder, and Earth, Wind and Fire appeared with their blend of Jazz, rock and Funk. Ben recorded six tracks in 1980 in that vein, which you can hear (and download free) from his website www.BennySutton.com Those disco tracks have stood the test of time rather well, they’re almost back in fashion!