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John "Jellybean" Benitez

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John "Jellybean" Benitez

John Benitez
Also known as "Jellybean Benitez"
Born (1957-11-07) November 7, 1957 (age 56)
South Bronx, New York, United States
Origin New York City
Genres Freestyle, electro-funk, pop, dance, house, R&B
Occupations Songwriter, musician, producer
Years active 1980s–present
Labels Jellybean Music Group
Chrysalis/EMI Records
EMI Records
Associated acts Madonna, Whitney Houston

John Benitez, better known as Jellybean Benitez or Jellybean (born November 7, 1957) is an American drummer, guitarist, songwriter, DJ, remixer and music producer of Puerto Rican descent. Benitez has produced and remixed artists such as Madonna, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, and the Pointer Sisters.[1]

Early years

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 "Know what I mean, Jellybean?"[2][3] 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.[1]

Music career

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."[1]

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, Fleetwood Mac, Lindsey Buckingham, The Pointer Sisters, Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney.[1]

Jellybean moniker

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), written by Madonna and featuring Catherine Buchanan; 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.[1]

He was also successful in the United Kingdom as an artist in his own right. His hits there included:- "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.


Benitez continues to deejay globally Benitez owns Jellybean Productions, Jellybean Soul and Jellybean Music Group. In 1995, he founded the now-defunct H.O.L.A. recording label (House Of Latin Artists) which develops hip hop and R&B music by bilingual artists and releases the recordings in both English and Spanish. Voices of Theory was signed to this label.[1] On September 19, 2005, Benitez was inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame for his achievements as a DJ and producer.

SiriusXM Radio

Benitez is now the Executive Producer of Studio 54 Radio, which is heard exclusively on SiriusXM Satellite Radio (Channel 15). Studio 54 Radio launched August 15, 2011. The music played is 70s and 80s classic dance from Jellybean's personal record collection and the vaults and collections of Studio 54 insiders.[4]

Partial credits


Selected Remixes


  • "Wotupski" 1984
  • "Just Visiting This Planet" 1987
  • "Jellybean Rocks The House" 1988
  • "Spillin' The Beans" 1990
  • "A Celebration In Sound" 2010
  • "Sidewalk Talk" Jellybean featuring Catherine Buchanan and Madonna
  • "Who Found Who" Jellybean featuring Elisa Fiorillo
  • "What's It Gonna Be" Jellybean featuring Niki Haris
  • "The Mexican" Jellybean featuring Babe Ruth's (Janita Haan)
  • "The Real Thing" Jellybean featuring Steven Dante
  • "Jingo" Jellybean

Motion Picture / Television

Benitez composed the theme song to The Ricki Lake Show and The Charles Perez Show, he also moved into producing motion pictures and was nominated for a Golden Globe Award and an Emmy for his role as an Executive Producer for HBO For Love or Country: The Arturo Sandoval Story starring Andy Garcia. He has also served as music supervisor and created and mixed tunes for many soundtracks.

Music Supervisor

Among the motion pictures for which he served as Music Supervisor are:

Soundtrack works

Among the motion picture soundtracks for which he created and mixed tunes are:

See also

Puerto Rico portal


External links

  • CNN Erin Burnett OutFront
  • Los Angeles Times
  • Miami New Times
  • Miami New Times
  • New York Daily News
  • Red Bull Music Academy
  • The New York Times
  • The New York Times
  • The New York Times
  • The New York Times
  • The Village Voice
  • YouTube Lisa Karlin

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