Entertainer, singer and show man, Pat Benti has been entertaining audiences for almost forty years. He's shared the stage with many Hall of Fame artists including The Righteous Brothers, Ben E. King, Tony Orlando and the legendary Roy Orbison whom he opened for at the Hampton Beach Casino.
In the late 1970's Benti was part of The Sha Boom Band, one of New England's favorite club bands. He's also acted as a promoter for other acts, special events co-ordinator and founded an organization "National Treasure Awards" with Mary Wilson of "The Supremes."
According to Benti, he is the "Luckiest No Hit Wonder."A book is planned for release later this year entitled, "Opening Act", an appropriate title for someone who has opened for so many.
Examiner spoke with Benti about his long career that doesn't seem to be slowing down.
Examiner: Tell us about your Sha Boom Band?
Benti: "We became a band back in 1979 and found ourselves playing out five or six nights a week. This precipitated being asked to be the house band at the Hampton Beach Casino in the early 1980's where we opened for Southside Johnny, The Stompers and Gene Pitney to name a few. Later, we were recognized by a local radio station, WODS, who added us to their Sunday concert series at City Hall Plaza."
Examiner: Tell us about a career high light?
Benti: "I received a call from a special events coordinator, Mike Testa, at Boston City Hall about two weeks before the Boston Celtics finals in 1986. He asked me if I could write a song and perform it at City Hall Plaza "IF" the Celtics won the Championship. I told him that I would have it ready. That Sunday night, June 8, the Celtics beat Houston while I was playing a gig in Seabrook, New Hampshire. I called a studio in Boston around midnight to book time on Monday. When I got there calls began pouring into the studio to ask if they can come down to interview me. It was an incredible day. The next day we arrived at City Hall Plaza at 8:30 a.m. where hundreds had already gathered, while the media set up the night before. Within hours throngs of people gathered. I remember a reporter said to me, "you will be performing to more people than those who attended Woodstock." He was right. An estimated 400,000+ people were there to cheer on their Champions. It was NOT an easy gig. They weren't interested in Pat Benti and the Sha-boom Band and most of them probably didn't see us on the news the night before. However, when we sang our song "Celtic Pride" everyone repeated the names of the Celtics after me. Then I introduced the first 3 players while the host, Mike Testa, was lining up the players. It was a day I will never forget."
Examiner: I understand that you have a Kennedy connection?
Benti: "Throughout the 1980's and 1990's I became the special events coordinator for Congressman Joseph P. Kennedy producing and coordinating numerous events and themes at the Kennedy compound in Hyannis, Massachusetts. Joe's birthday each September and then I performed at Joe and Beth's wedding in October 1993. I continued to produce shows for Joe until the passing of his brother Michael."
Examiner: In 2010 you produced two big shows?
Benti: "I produced two 50th Anniversary Show's for my dear friend's Tony Orlando, "Knock Three Times", "Tie a Yellow Ribbon" and also for Ben E. King, "Stand by Me." It's one of my favorite career moments besides writing "Celtic Pride."
Examiner: You and Orlando have been good friends for many years, do you have anything else up your sleeve?
Benti: "How did you know? Tony and I completed working on a musical called the "Do-Prano's", but we put it off until next year, due to our schedules and the large cast that would be required. Stay tuned, you will be the first to know. It's funny and lot's of familiar and original songs. We have been friends for over 25 years and are like brothers. Tony is an amazing person on and off stage. Always giving 100% during his performances. I could go on and on and on about Tony. In most cases Tony will invite me on stage, to perform with his amazing band.
In 2011 Tony was in an Adam Sandler movie called, "That's My Boy," which was filmed in the Boston area, including the Cape. Tony got me in the movie as an extra, but don't blink or go get popcorn or you will miss me."
Examiner: Tell us about the two organizations that you formed to help other musicians?
Benti: "In 1998, Mary Wilson (The Supremes), the late Dennis Yost, of the Classics lV and the late Gene Hughes, of The Casino's and I, formed a non-profit organization called FAME, to stop so called impostor groups from touring as original members of groups. I was elected Executive Director. We spoke in D.C., Boston, New York, and were written up in newspapers around the country as well as a popular music industry magazine called Goldmine. FAME, opened the ears, eyes, minds and hearts of politicians and fans alike who were not aware of the fact that many of the shows they saw were not the original artist. Promoters did not have to reveal it in there ads. Today over 30 states have a law that prohibits groups from using famous names. Sadly, most of the original members are no longer with us.
Also, in 2002, Mary Wilson and I started the "National Treasure Awards" giving to those in music, television and movies. We have presented awards to, The Four Tops, Ben E. King, Tony Orlando, Herb Reed and many more. We hope to get a major sponsor so that we can extend the awards to others in their field. Many of our greatest singers are NOT in the Hall of Fame. Such as Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Lucille Ball, Tony Bennett, Sammy Davis, Jr.. The list is endless."
Examiner: What are you working on now?
Benti: "I'm currently working on a show that I've been performing for over 20 years called "In Dreams," a musical/documentary to the legendary Roy Orbison. I opened for Roy back in 1983 and 84' at the Hampton Beach Casino. What an incredible voice. Roy was "The Master" when it came to singing. We are hoping to have the show ready by late April to celebrate Roy's birthday. The first show will be scheduled in the greater Boston area as soon as we can make sure that we have Roy's former Band Members under contract. I have also been contacted by Mohegan Sun to do a show and also a show in Nashville. The legendary guitarist, James Burton, might join us for at least one night on one of these dates. James is currently touring in Europe. He is in the Rock n' Roll Hall of Fame and has played with every major Rock Star and considered by many as the BEST guitarist. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that he will do it!"
February 14, 2014 - Valentine's Show at Rosaria's in Saugus. It's a tribute to the many Italian-American singers who gave so much to the music industry such as, Dean Martin, Louis Prima, Dion and many more.