Original Guitar Arrangement “This Masquerade”

I’d like to share my arrangement of “This Masquerade” with you.

It’s one of the best constructed pop songs of the “Rock” era.

Written by Leon Russell and recorded by a lot of performers but the best known version is George Benson’s which was the first recording of this masterpiece that I’d heard.

Benson apart from his vocal performance did some jaw dropping guitar solos that made you ask “where did he learn to play like that”?

George Benson’s recording of “This Masquerade” is the meeting of two musical giants, Benson and Leon Russell so something special was going to happen.

The Wrecking Crew

I remember reading in Eric Clapton’s autobiography where Clapton talked about working with Leon Russell and he said “he opened his mouth and there was a song” he was just so musical.

After a stella session career as a member of L.A.’s elite studio musicians known as the “wrecking crew”.

The Wrecking Crew having played on an enormous number of hits like “Strangers In The Night” by Sinatra, many the Beachboys songs and was Phil Spector’s first choice pianist, Leon Russell helped build careers like Joe Cocker.

Russell wrote “Delta Lady” for Cocker and was the musical director, he was the driving force behind Joe Cocker’s 1970 tour of America that was produced into the highly acclaimed, award winning movie “Mad Dogs & Englishmen”.

Not only was Russell a sideman to many of the biggest stars, he also had a solo career recording albums under his own name Russell then established his own record label “Shelter People”.

He was also the inspiration behind Elton John’s career…

Leon Russell

Elton John was heavily influenced by Leon Russell they even recorded an album together called “Union” which was nominated for a Grammy.

There’s an excellent biography of Leon Russell called “The Master of Space and Time” by Bill Janovitz that tells the whole story of Leon Russell which is a very big story.

George Benson on the other hand was known for playing and interpreting other people’s songs.

He did write some songs himself but mostly he played other people’s like “This Masquerade”.

Benson had been payed to play music publicly from the age of 7 so by the time he was 17 he was a seasoned professional which was when he discovered Wes Montgomery.

On his way to a gig one night, Benson noticed a sign outside the club opposite the club where he was to perform.

Wes Montgomery was playing with his brothers so Benson decided to go in and check them out.

He couldn’t believe his ears, he was so impressed and intimidated by the standard of musicianship of the Montgomery’s.

George Benson

Benson went over to do his gig at “the Mason’s Bar & Grill”.

During one of his breaks, Buddy, one of the Montgomery brothers who had come over to check out the band approached George Benson and recommended he play Jazz.

George Benson

Buddy recognised Benson’s talent and 2 years later saw George Benson realise his prediction when he saw George Benson play with Jack Macduff, a major league Jazz act, in New York.

Benson had made a thorough study of Wes Montgomery’s guitar style and as his career grew he was able to popularise what Wes had developed.

George Benson became one of the biggest acts in the world for decades and only stopped touring recently.

There’s a really good documentary made by Wes Montgomery’s son, Robert, called “Wes Bound: The Genius of Wes Montgomery” which I highly recommend.

It tells Wes Montgomery’s story so well and with Robert interviewing people that knew his father (who had died when Robert was very young) but also guitar players that were influenced by his father like Pat Metheny and George Benson, they shed plenty of light on what made Wes Montgomery the giant musician that he was.

I really enjoyed putting this arrangement together so if you’d like to get a copy of the tab let me know.

Cheers,
Steve

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