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Interview with Ray Bennett Jr

Ray Bennett Jr. was the writer and lead singer of 'When You Hear Love Calling', a highly indemand record that seems to have been published in the United States on Lionella Records. Below you see the dutch release on Streetheat Records from 1985. A fantastic modern soul piece with beautiful vocals backing Ray Bennett Jr.'s warm voice and a simple but gorgeous synth bassline. Strangely enough the song was also released as a 7 inch single under the artistname Adonis on the belgian Seaback recordlabel Read the story behind the song in the exclusive interview with Ray Bennett Jr. below. (click here to listen song)

Good news for rare funk & soul lovers: Nobody but Ray Bennett Jr. himself will talk about his When You Hear Love Calling' today, giving us a rare opportunity to know more about him and about the making of this outstanding record that is regarded as one of the holy grails by many collectors. Hello Ray, i'm excited to have you on the site. How are you doing?

Ray Bennett Jr:

I am doing ok. I'm a bit bewildered at all this. When i got your email i was very surprised. No one has asked me about the song 'Hear Love Calling' for the past 20 years. So you can imagine my surprise. But it is a good surprise!

I have some burning questions about you and your record. First of all, where do you come from?

Ray Bennett Jr:

I was born and raised in Brooklyn, New York. Albany Projects to be exact.

Can you tell me a bit about your musical background and training?

Ray Bennett Jr:

Wow! That takes me back....I never really studied music. My music teacher Robert Wedlaw at JHS 35 in Brooklyn had me learning instruments from the 6th grade. He would just give it to me to take home. I took it home and learned it. Kept me out of trouble. First was the trumpet, second was the upright bass, then bass guitar, then piano. I was second trumpet and first trumpet was Michael Jones (a.k.a. *Kashif). Third trumpet was Larry Fishburn. That was a hell of a class.........I started playing guitar in High school (Wingate High). I started writing music then also.

Kashif! that you jammed with him. So you are pretty much an autodidact. What bands were you in?

Ray Bennet Jr:

I played in bands like JHS, The Illustrations, The New Breeds and The Funklords at my high school in New York Local bands and singers were Crown Heights Affair, Machine, Shannon. I played keys with a Def Jam artist called 'NEWKIRK'. I did his first video called 'Sweat You' and toured. I worked with Jocelyn Brown. Learned so much from her. She is a lovely lady and I still speak with her sometimes. I was also the singer/keyboard player for the group C-BANK (One More Shot, Get Wet).

Jocelyn Brown.....another big name there. That's interesting to know you were a member of C-Bank. Now, your own 12 inch was released in Holland on Streetheat Records. Was the music recorded in Holland as well?

Ray Bennett Jr:

Streetheat Records is a mystery to me! I only knew about a 7 inch single on Seaback Records which was the original Belgian release in June 1985. The song was recorded in Holland at a Hilversum recording studio. Andy Barrett was the producer. Only now i see he also released it on Streetheat Records, a label i've never heard of. The songwriter of 'When You Hear Love Calling' is Ray Bennett Jr. and not the other names. I don't even know who Tommy James is. I have the copyrights here with me. I'll have to contact ASCAP and take care of this.

I'm surprised and sorry to hear this. It seems that a lot of artists got screwed in those days! So Adonis was the original artistname for the record but they used your real name for the Streetheat issue. And what about Lionella Records? Was that another label? I always believed that was the original U.S. label of your record, as stated on the label and back of the cover. A company based in New York.

Ray Bennett Jr:

I dont know at all about that label. I know only about Seaback Records in Belgium. If it was released in the States, i know nothing of that either. It's a shame that i have to learn about this 20 years later.

That's very curious indeed. I can understand you feel upset about it, even if it's after 20 years. You did the lead vocals on the track, my compliments for that. Your voice is quite unique and has a warm timbre. Did you also do the keyboards and drum programming? And do you remember what equipment was used?

Ray Bennett Jr:

I also sang the background vocals with two people. One was a girl i knew from N.Y. who was in Brussels recording. I can't remember her name right now. When i do i'll get it to you. She re-recorded the Madonna song; Get Into The Groove. The guy was a singer, friend of hers from Brussels. Andy did the straight ahead keys and some synth. I did the bass and drums and some synth. The bass was the Poly 800 and Oberheim 8 synth, drums was a DMX. I remember an old poly six being used also. Strings were the Jupiter 8. Synth keys was the DX7. Piano was a Yamaha grand. Wow! I amazed myself remembering all that!

What was your inspiration to write 'When You Hear Love Calling'?

Ray Bennett Jr:

A girl. I was a popular musician in N.Y. back then and i met a girl i wanted so i wrote this for her.

Who are the people behind you in that Streetheat picture cover ? Are they the ones that did the backing vocals?

Ray Bennett Jr:

That picture cover i saw for the first time on your site. I remember taking the picture in Antwerpen, Belgium. The people behind me were just models. The picture was taken on the same day as the Adonis shoot. The Adonis name was not my idea. Sephra Herman, the lady who had this Seaback recordcompany did that. I worked for her in N.Y. where she had a company called Sammy's. I would take music scores and union contracts to the studio for her. At that time i dealt with Luther Vandross (before he was famous). Diana Ross, Ashford & Simpson, Paul Riser, George Benson and many others. It was a great learning experience. Back to the photo ....I came to the photo shoot dressed as you see in that photo. I took pictures with the models, then they wanted to take photos of just me. Next thing i knew they sprayed some white stuff in my hair and that is how the Adonis picture was done. I never saw the Ray Bennett Jr. Streetheat cover because i did not know about it. Somebody made money....but not me!!!

Shit, it was obviously all planned without you knowing it.

Ray Bennett Jr:

I thought i was just ripped off and nothing happened to the Adonis record. When i came back to America i could not contact anyone at the record all. But this is not the only story for this song. A year after i came back from Belgium, a friend called me and said he heard my song being sung by another singer! The singer was a guy named Rodney Jones from North Carolina. He recorded my song with a guy from N.Y. who said he wrote it........The recordlabel was owned by Earl 'The Pearl' Monroe. He pulled the record after i confronted him and all was i thought. I ended up doing 6 demos for Rodney Jones and he got a deal on A&M records because of my demos! But he did not do any of my songs and.........his recorded album flopped. :)

That's a crazy story......people trying to run away with your song! And flattering at the same time i guess. I mean, it's a real good modern soul dancer. Did you ever hear you track being aired on radio? Or in a club?

Ray Bennett Jr:

I never got that thrill. I wish i did. I only got to hear it at home.

Do you have any idea how many copies of the Adonis single were pressed?

Ray Bennett. Jr:

Your guess is as good as mine about how many records were made. I had 500 copies of the Adonis single. I gave them away to friends and kept one copy. Then i lost that copy and my mom gave me her copy. That is what i have now.

Did you make more funky records besides 'When You Hear Love Calling'?

Ray Bennett Jr:

I just did 'When You Hear Love Calling' as a solo artist. I got more into producing and writing. I was working with a guy named Dinky Bingham in New York. He wrote 'Hit Me Off' for New Edition. We did demos for a lot of artists that made it. We wrote music for Basic Black, Regina Belle, 'Take My Heart' for Big Bub, 'Sex Ain't The Only Thing' for Jeff Redd, Changing Faces, Aaron Hall, Guy etc. I did Barry Micron cd (reggae) and
also some independent projects.

What has been going on in your life since then. Do you still play music? I understand you live in Japan nowadays?

Ray Bennett Jr:

I have traveled around the world doing music. I got desillusioned with the music business there in the States. So i decided to just leave and travel. I lived in Thailand, Hong Kong, Jamaica, Singapore, China, Austria, Montreal, Estonia and Japan. I have lived in Japan for 5 years now. I was married to a japanese girl for 3 years but now i am divorced. I still play music, i still write music and I plan to move back to the United States next year.......

Thank you very much for this interview Ray. It was great to learn about you and your masterpiece. I wish you all the best for the future. Do you want to say something to your fans?

Ray Bennett Jr:

I am happy to know that people really know something that i did and like it...........WOW! I really did not think i had any fans besides my family is nice to know. Thank you for the interview. I can be contacted through

Ray Bennett Jr. a.k.a. Babyray

November, 2005

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