John "Jellybean" Benitesz
Better known as "Jellybean Benitez" (born November 7, 1957) is an American
drummer, guitarist, songwriter, DJ, remixer and music producer of Puerto Rican
descent. Benitez has produced and remixed for artists such as Madonna, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, and the Pointer Sisters.
Benitez's mother moved from Puerto Rico in the early 1950s to the South Bronx section of New York. She raised two children as a single mother, Benitez being the first child. Born in New York City, he grew up enjoying listening to music, usually playing his sister's record collection. His sister, Debbie, nicknamed him Jellybean as his initials are J.B. and from the saying "Do you know what I mean, Jellybean?" 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 & Electric Circus 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, Hurrah, Xenon, Paradise Garage 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," Rocker’s Revenge’s "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 band mate at the time, Madonna. A romantic relationship developed between the two that lasted about two years. Benitez became involved with remixing on Madonna's self-titled debut album in 1983, including the singles "Everybody", "Borderline", and "Lucky Star." He also produced "Holiday.
Remixing other artists
Benitez went on to produce Whitney Houston's Top ten hit "Love Will Save the Day" from her second album Whitney, and eventually remixed songs for such artists as Hall & Oates, George Benson, Shalamar, Jocelyn Brown, Patti Austin, Bobby O, Sheena Easton, Talking Heads, James Ingram, Billy Joel, The Pointer Sisters, Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney
He was also an artist in his own right although he did not actually sing on the recordings released under his name. Instead he would have featured singers. Benitez scored two pop hits in the U.S. in the 1980s from music produced and released under the Jellybean moniker: "Sidewalk Talk" (US #18), featuring Madonna; and "Who Found Who" (US #16), featuring Elisa Fiorillo. He has, however, placed nine songs in the Top Ten of the U.S. Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart, including three number ones. Other vocalists that have performed on a Jellybean release include 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, and was his first number-one single on the Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart.
He was also successful in England as an artist in his own right "Sidewalk Talk" (UK #20, 1985) ; "The Real Thing" (UK #13, 1987) which featured Steven Dante; "Who Found Who" (UK #10, 1988) with Elisa Fiorillo; Jingo (UK #13, 1988) and "Just a Mirage" (UK #13, 1988) with vocals by Adele Bertei.
The 2018 New York L.O.V. DJ/Artists Hall of Fame Awards
John "Jellybean" Benitez
Drummer, Guitarist, Songwriter, DJ, Remixer & Music Producer
L.O.V. "2018 "ICON" of the year
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