Rest in peace, Benny Mardones: “Into the Night” (1980)


(Above: Benny Mardones. Credit: Billboard/Getty Images)

Billboard magazine is reporting the death of pop singer/songwriter Benny Mardones today at the age of 73 following a long battle with Parkinson’s disease.

Mardones was born in Cleveland in 1946. His musical career began after serving in the Vietnam War when he moved to New York City and took a job as a songwriter working with producer Joel Diamond. By 1977 he went on to add “performer” to his title, opening for Richie Havens on tour.  His first LP – Thank God For Girls – didn’t draw much attention, but his second, Never Run, Never Hide, put him on the map with the single “Into the Night.”  The song rose to #11 on the pop chart and, typically, that’s where the story would end, since subsequent releases did nothing.

But of course there’s more. In 1989 the song surfaces again. One version of the story has KZZP in Phoenix, Arizona giving the song more-than-typical-recurrent airplay, and the national needle getting moved. However it happened, the song recharted, making it to #20 Pop and #20 on the Adult Contemporary chart. That was where I first encountered the record: in the summer of 1989 I was a baby disc jockey at WJTW in Joliet, Illinois, having just been disinvited from returning to college in the fall and working any part-time shift they would give me. I ended up in afternoons for a string of a few weeks while the station had several openings, and that time, if memory serves correctly, lined up with peak “Into the Night” airplay. I think I got the record at least once a day for a month. As such, it was not a favorite of mine for quite some time. (“This song never really gets started,” said the 20-year-old rocker to his friends, off the air of course.)

The return to the charts got Mardones’ career jump-started for the soft-rock crowd. Stations that jumped on the re-release in 1989 kept the record in recurrent rotation or worked it into 80s-related programming features. In 2002 and 2003 he put three more singles on the AC chart: “I Need a Miracle,” “I Want it All,” and “I Know You By Heart” were all mid-charters.

You can hear “Into the Night” by clicking here.

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