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Benitez, Eddie

Eddie Benitez was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1962 and soon after his birth his family relocated to Europe. Raised in Italy and Spain, his father arranged for the talented Benitez to get private lessons from the legendary classical guitar virtuoso, Andrés Segovia.

At the age of ten his family moved to the United States, settling in Brooklyn, New York. There, Benitez learned about the Puerto Rican way of life in New York City. During the summer nights in the city salsa music could be heard coming from the apartments, stores and local clubs. The sounds of the Lebron Brothers, Tito Puente, Joe Cuba and many other artists would fill the airwaves. Even so, Benitez would often change the radio station from Latin to a Top 40 station; a reflection of his more varied musical interests.

By the late 60’s, Benitez was listening to groups like Jay and the Americans, Jimi Hendrix, Alvin Lee, Santana and doo-wop groups. At the age of 13 Benitez put together his own band: “Nebula”. The first member of his group Gregory Hernandez was a percussionist who would teach Eddie all about the clave.

Benitez and Nebula would perform block party’s and park events throughout New York City. When Benitez was 14 years old, his performance at a high school competition of music bands brought him to the attention of Fania Records. Benitez recorded his first album, Night Life, for Fania that same year and which was acclaimed by Downbeat and Latin New York magazines as one of the best ever Latin Rock/Jazz albums at the time.

In August of 1976 Eddie would make his debut at Madison Square Garden Opening for the legendary Fania All Stars and “Tito Puente”. Later that year Benitez and Nebula was the first Latin artists to perform at CBGBs punk rock club where they were labeled a “Latin Punk Rock band”. Benitez then had a chance meeting with John McLaughlin who would later be very influential in Benitez’ musical and spiritual life.

Benitez great talent led him to performing with such well known artists as Tito Puente, Mongo Santamaria, Al Dimeola, Michael Walden, Billy Cobham, Stanley Clark and Charlie Palmieri.

His career was almost ended twice: first by cancer and then by a massive heart attack. Fortunately, he recovered and went back to the music he loved and his band. His music now combines Latin, jazz, rock and New Age styles.

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Discography

Night Life (1976)

Essence of Life (1977)

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