1-CD with 20-page booklet, 21 tracks. Playing time approx. 45 mns.
Here are all the original recordings that Ben Hewitt made for Mercury between 1958 and 1960, including I Ain't Givin' Up Nothin', Patricia June, You Break Me Up, Bundle Of Love, Whirlwind Blues, plus the rare Mercury single by Ben's guitarist, Ray Ethier (Slave Girl/President's Walk), plus seven previously unheard demo's that were made by him and Eden Music for Elvis, I Once Had A Woman, I'll Get Over You,
Can I Be The One, Yesterday's Dreams, Together, Just To Spend One Day With You, and I Need Your Kind of Love. We at Bear Family were all very saddened when we heard of Ben Hewitt's death in 1996, but we're trying to keep his joyous and spirited rock 'n' roll music alive.
Ben Hewitt - You Got Me Shook
Pop music history tends to revolve around chart placings, which means that Ben Hewitt doesn't exist. Not a footnote. Not even bubbling under. But that's selling Ben Hewitt short. His story is not only interesting in its own right, but it tells us a lot about the second generation of rock 'n' rollers. Ben wasn't one of the creators who helped put the music together; he was among the first kids who heard rock 'n' roll and decided that it was for them, and decided that it spoke to them in a way that no other music could.
These recordings were made for Mercury in the late Fifties. At that time, Mercury's New York office was run by Clyde Otis, a black songwriter who earned the Mercury post by cowriting and producing the Diamonds' recording of The Stroll. Otis's major acts at the time were Brook Benton and Dinah Washington, but you won't hear the lush productions that characterised his work with them. Instead, Otis kept the sound rooted in Fifties rock 'n' roll. He seems to have had faith that Ben Hewitt could deliver a hit for him, and two or three of these songs could very easily have become major hits in the late Fifties. Then the story would have been very different. Like many Fifties hitmakers, Ben Hewitt could have made a decent living trading off past glories; instead, he was working in country bars around Niagara Falls, Canada when Hank Davis and I went to interview him in 1986, and had fallen on very hard times when he died ten years later in December 1996.
What follows is a transcript of the interview that Hank Davis and I did with Ben Hewitt in 1986. It was used verbatim as the liner notes for the LP version of this record. Usually, we prefer not to use verbatim interviews as liner note text, but Ben told his own story so compellingly that it was senseless to render it any other way.
Toronto, October 1997.
Q: Let's begin with some standard biographical questions like when and where you were born?
Ben Hewitt: I was born on September 11, 1935 in a one room dirt floor log cabin on the Tuscarora Indian Reservation in New York State.
Q: When did you get your first guitar?
BH: I wanted a guitar from the time I was nine or ten. I kept bugging my father and finally when I was about twelve he broke down and bought me a ukulele. About a year or so later, I got my first guitar, a $12 Stella. That thing would make your fingers bleed and would go out of tune while you were changing chords. An old guy named Clayton Green taught me the basics. He made his own guitar picks out of the ivory on piano keys. Tom T.Hall had his Clayton Delaney, I had my Clayton Green.
Q: What kind of music influenced you?
Ben Hewitt: I love Sun Records. I was a real nut for that stuff. The earliest Sun Record I have was Just Walkin' In The Rain by the Prisionaires. I used to love Ubangi Stomp. You ever heard Chicken Hearted by Roy Orbinson? Great stuff! Remember Dixie Fried by Carl Perkins?
Q: You were obviously influenced by Elvis Presley?
Ben Hewitt: People who saw me performing in a bar somewhere would call me Elvis. Years later some of them would swear up an down that they had seen Elvis perform in a bar. But when I was up there performing I wasn't doing Elvis; I was doing my hero, Little Richard Penniman. I saw him on a package show, Ruth Brown was the headliner. He was hot with Ready Teddy at that time. I was awestruck by the drive of this man. About six months later he came to the Zanzibar Club in Buffalo and I was there on Monday night and I caught every show that week. I even booked off work to go see him. I blew a fortune there. He had a band that wouldn't quit. They came out first and opened with all the old Red Prysock numbers. When I went back to do my act that's who I was doing. Little Richard. Shakin' my ass, carrying' on, doing flip flops.
more in booklet...