Smooth Benny Latimore Talks Ladies Choice: "You Never Get Too Old to F#$%"
|Smooth Benny Latimore.|
You may or may not know his name. But Latimore's been in showbiz for half a century. He had a string of chart-topping hits in the '70s (most famously "Let's Straighten It Out") and his latest album, Ladies Choice, is available now on LatStone Records, the label run by 90-year-old music legend Henry Stone.
We spoke with Latimore about lovin' Miami, the new record, and his upcoming concert with the Old Skool Gang. Here's what he had to say.
Crossfade: You were born in Charleston, Tennessee, in 1939. How'd you end up in Miami?
Benny Latimore: Well, I was on the road with a guy named Joe Henderson. He had a hit called "Snap Your Fingers," and we came down here with Jackie Wilson and Ben E. King and a whole bunch of other people on a package tour. I got a little taste of Miami. Then a couple months later, we were stuck in a snowstorm in Indiana, and I'd been touring non-stop for a couple of years. I thought back on Miami and decided to get off the road for a while and move down there. That was about 1961.
Where did you live when you moved here?
I lived in Overtown at the Sir John hotel. I lived there and worked at the Knight Beat, which is the club they had in there. Rent was included in my salary. I had a little efficiency and my salary when I started out there was $90 a week. [Laughs] And I was glad to have it. Later on, Clyde Killens, who managed the place, he raised me to $110 a week.
What was your job?
I started out in the house band. The band leader was Frank Duboise, and the band was called The Chicken Scratch, which was a dance back in those days. Me and Frank, we didn't get along real good and he fired me. But Clyde Killens said, "Well, I hired you. Can you play and sing for 30 minutes and hold the crowd between sets?" What was I gonna say? No? I was panic-stricken. I didn't wanna go back up [North] in that cold weather. So I went on, he gave me a raise, and I was making $110 for doin' 30 minutes. And then Frank and I really fell out.
What can you say about Henry Stone?
The man been around forever. He knows music, and the music business, and the business side of the business. Henry has always been a person who can relate to the times. He recognizes my talent and I appreciate his talent, and I have the utmost respect for his knowledge and his support.
How's show business been for you?
I been able to travel all over the world and get paid, and do something I enjoy doing. They might not pay me as much as other people. But it ain't how much you gross, it's how much you go home with.
Latimore with his full band and the Old Skool Gang, hosted by HOT105's Rodney Baltimore. Saturday, January 21. American Legion, Harvey W. Seeds Post #29, 6445 NE Seventh Ave., Miami. The show starts at 8 p.m. and tickets cost $20. Visit henrystonemusic.com.
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