John Benitez

John Benitez
Also known as Jellybean
Born (1957-11-07) November 7, 1957
South Bronx, New York, United States
Origin New York City
Genres Freestyle, electro-funk, house
Occupation(s) Songwriter, musician, producer
Instruments Drums, Guitar
Years active 1980–present
Labels Jellybean Music Group
Chrysalis/EMI Records
EMI Records
Associated acts Madonna, Whitney Houston

John Benitez (born November 7, 1957), also known as Jellybean, is an American drummer, guitarist, songwriter, DJ, remixer and music producer of Puerto Rican descent. He 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 City. She raised Benitez and a younger sibling as a single mother. He grew up enjoying music, usually listening to his sister's record collection. His sister Debbie, nicknamed him Jellybean as his initials are J.B. and from the expression "Know what I mean, Jellybean?"[2][3] Benitez attended De Witt Clinton and John F. Kennedy High Schools, but did not graduate.

He relocated to Manhattan in 1975, attending disco nightclubs, which sparked his interest in becoming a disc jockey (DJ). He worked at a nightclub called Experiment 4 & Electric Circus. In 1980 Benitez enrolled and attended Bronx Community College, where he studied Marketing and Sales Promotion. Benitez worked as a DJ at Electric Circus, Hurrah, Xenon, Paradise Garage and Studio 54. In 1981, he was hired as the resident DJ at Funhouse. He hosted a weekend dance radio show at WKTU.[1]

Music career


Benitez started to remix singles, such as Jimmy Spicer's "The Bubble Bunch," Rocker's Revenge's "Walking on Sunshine," Afrika Bambaataa's "Planet Rock" and Stephen Bray of the group Breakfast Club. Benitez met Bray's band mate at the time, Madonna. A two-year romance developed. Benitez became involved with remixing Madonna's self-titled debut album in 1983, including the singles "Everybody", "Borderline", and "Lucky Star." He also produced "Holiday."[1]

Other artists

Benitez produced Whitney Houston's Top ten hit "Love Will Save the Day" from her second album Whitney. He remixed songs for many other artists including Hall & Oates, George Benson, Shalamar, Jocelyn Brown, Patti Austin, Bobby O, Sheena Easton, Talking Heads, James Ingram, Billy Joel, Fleetwood Mac, Lindsey Buckingham, John Waite, The Pointer Sisters, Debbie Harry, a-ha, Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney.[1]

Jellybean moniker

Benitez scored two 1980s US pop hits 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. Nine recordings placed in the Top Ten of the U.S. Hot Dance Music/Club Play chart, including three number ones. Other vocalists who 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 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 successful in the United Kingdom as an artist in his own right. His hits there included:- "Sidewalk Talk" (UK #47, 1986) ; "The Real Thing" (UK #13, 1987) featuring 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.[4]


Benitez continues to deejay globally. He 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 developed hip hop and R&B music by bilingual artists and released recordings in both English and Spanish. Voices of Theory signed with this label.[1] On September 19, 2005, Benitez was inducted into the Dance Music Hall of Fame.


Benitez is now the Executive Producer of Studio 54 Radio, which is heard exclusively on SiriusXM Satellite Radio (Channel 54). Studio 54 Radio launched August 15, 2011. It features 1970s and 1980s classic dance from Jellybean's personal collection and the vaults and collections of Studio 54 insiders.[5]

Partial discography


Selected remixes




Year Single Peak positions Album
US Dance
1984 "The Mexican" 1 Wotupski!?!
"Sidewalk Talk" 18 51 1 34 31 47
1987 "Who Found Who" (featuring Elisa Fiorillo) 16 3 46 95 21 10 Just Visiting This Planet
"The Real Thing" (featuring Steven Dante) 82 49 1 22 33 21 13
"Jingo" 2 16 16 44 18 19 12
1988 "Just A Mirage" (featuring Adele Bertei) 4 87 27 13
"Coming Back For More" (featuring Richard Darbyshire) 9 50 41 Jellybean Rocks The House!
1991 "What's It Gonna Be" (featuring Niki Haris) 90 2 98 Spillin' The Beans
"Spillin' The Beans" 5
2006 "New York House" (featuring Marlon D.) singles only
2008 "Secrets & Lies" (featuring Carla Prather) (promo only)
2009 "You Bring Me Joy" (featuring Su Su Bobien) (promo only) A Celebration in Sound
(as "3 Amigos" with Marlon D. & Mena Keys)
"—" denotes releases that did not chart or were not released.

Motion Picture / Television

Benitez composed the theme song to The Ricki Lake Show and The Charles Perez Show. He produed motion pictures and was nominated for a Golden Globe Award and an Emmy for his role as an Executive Producer for HBO's For Love or Country: The Arturo Sandoval Story starring Andy Garcia. He 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


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Archived October 12, 2008, at the Wayback Machine.
  2. "Internet Radio". Retrieved 2016-01-01.
  3. 1979 interview with Jellybean Benitez on YouTube
  5. "Studio 54 - Ultimate Classic Dance - SiriusXM Radio". SiriusXM.
  6. "B-Movie - A Letter From Afar (Vinyl)". Retrieved 2016-01-01.
  7. "Jellybean – US Hot 100 Chart". Retrieved 2014-04-01.
  8. "Jellybean – US Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs Chart". Retrieved 2014-04-01.
  9. "Jellybean – US Dance Club Songs Chart". Retrieved 2014-04-01.
  10. "Jellybean – German Chart". Retrieved 2014-04-01.
  11. "The Official Charts Company – John Benitez". The Official Charts Company. April 4, 2014.


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