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Musician Benny Mardones This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     After an awe-inspiring performance at Youngstown’s B&B Backstage, I had the opportunity to interview the one and only Benny “The Voice“ Mardones. An incredible talent, this man has left his mark on the music industry. Beginning as a songwriter, he penned such hits as Pat Benatar‘s number-one single“Shadows of the Night. “ Mardones also found tremendous success as a solo artist, giving the world the incredible “Into the Night, “ which is now one of the 25 most-played songs in rock’n’ roll history.

As the saying goes, though, there is a lot of room at the top, but there is no place to sit down. Benny Mardones left the music scene while battling a drug addiction. After years out of the public eye, a sober Mardones found fame again when fans called radio stations demanding that his music be played. Now, Mardones is touring to promote his new album and collaborating with Sylvester Stallone to write the music for the Broadway production of“Rocky. ” He also must battle another demon now -Parkinson’s disease.

Growing up, did you want to be a rock star, or did you consider other careers?

No, I’ve always wanted to be a rock star. Ever since I was six years old and saw Elvis Presley on “The Ed Sullivan Show, ” I knew this is what I wanted to be. If I couldn’t be in the music business, I wouldn’t want to live. Music is life.


If you’d known as a child that one day you would be diagnosed with Parkinson’s, would it have affected your career choice?

No. I would have tried to get going with my career as early as possible, but that’s about it. I love what I do and I’m not going to let Parkinson’s change that.


From your first album to your most recent, what is one thing you’ve learned?

That the people you meet on the way up are the same people you meet on the way down. That’s why you’ve got to be real - treat people with heart, you know? My ride’s taught me to keep humble.


Where are your favorite places to play and why?

I love playing in Syracuse, Youngstown, New Orleans, Atlanta. All them people got soul. The best places to play are the places where the people feel you and you feel the people.


What are your views on Iraq, with your son entering the Armed Forces?

I think it’s a big tragedy. Some of those people are subhuman, and they’ve found that they’ve been given a voice. The cowards kill other people and then hide behind the Qur’an, you know? I think it’s a disgrace that we have to fight and lose young kids to settle what they should settle among themselves and probably what we should have kept our noses out of in the first place.


When you’re on the road, what do you do with your free time? Do you enjoy reading, and if so, who is your favorite author?

I absolutely love to golf, and yeah, I love to read. Oh jeez, my favorite author . . . without a doubt it’s Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. I love Sherlock Holmes mysteries. I love to try to figure them out.


Have you let Parkinson’s affect the way you live your life?

It has only affected me in a positive way. Now I don’t put off anything because I don’t know how much longer I’ll be physically able to do certain activities. I live life to the max now, and I’m going to continue doing everything I love, especially creating music and performing until I can’t do it no more. It’s amazing how a terrible disease can impact you in such a positive way.


Who have been your biggest influences as a musician?

My biggest influence has to be Roy Orbison. He was a dear friend of mine. There are way too many others to list. I was raised on a lot of R & B and soul, though, so those genres have influenced my career.


What is a common misconception about the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle?

[One is] that it’s all just getting [girls] and being loved by everyone. There is a lot of hard work before you go on stage or get an album signed. People don’t see that. You gotta put in hard work before you have those moments of excitement on stage. The same applies to life too - you gotta work hard.


How does it feel to know that you will always have loyal fans at your show singing every word with you?

Without a doubt, it means the world, you know. Without my fans, I would be nothing. They’re the reason I comeo ut. They fill the seats. They buy the albums. My fans are awesome.


Do people treat you differently since you were diagnosed with Parkinson’s?

Some do, but the majority treat me like they always have. I don’t want to be treated differently, but I understand it’s human nature. I just want to keep plowing on like I normally would.


I know you like to tour with Eddie Money, but with whom else do you enjoy playing?

Well, I actually don’t tour with Eddie, we just play here together, but I love him. I loved playing with the Rolling Stones. I also opened for Fleetwood Mac, which was cool. I’ve been blessed with opportunities to play with so many great bands.


What bands today could you see being around in 25years?

Without question, I could see Puddle of Mudd around in 25 years. Linkin Park is just awesome, too.


What is your advice to up-and-coming rockers?

Do not let anyone step on your dream! Under no circumstances should you ever take “No” for an answer. Never let rejection bring you down. You should keep fighting until you get the bat in your hands. Then step up to the plate, take a swing at the ball and hit it.


What is something about youthat would surprise your fans?

I think [it would surprise themthat] I cry when I watch sad movies. Have you ever seen “Pay ItForward” with Kevin Spacey? I cried a lot.


What isyour favorite song to perform, and why?

Well, that would have tobe “Into the Night. ” That is the song that brought me all myfame, houses and cars and put food on my table. Plus, it is a song thatall my fans love to hear.


When was your first gig, andwere you paid for it?

I played my first gig when I was 11, andthe musicians I was playing with were 16. I was paid five dollars andtold that I could have all the hot dogs I could eat. I remember thefirst time I played at Madison Square Garden - that was justawesome.


No doubt you’ve been asked some of thesequestions before. Do you ever get tired of it?

No, never. I lovethe fans, I love the interviews, I love the people who interview me andI love the radio stations. You know what? I have to - without ’em, I wouldn’t be able to have this type of career. I’d have togo out and get a real job! [Wink]

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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MickeyDee said...
Aug. 16 at 6:45 pm
I am looking to buy a 45 record of Into The Night by Benny Mardones. Will pay top dollar for excellent condition. Have to have it. Love it. Thank you for the walk down memory lane. 
 
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