I not only listened to Breezin by George Benson a ‘million times’ as a teenager I also learned all of the guitar solos and rhythm parts off by heart. His music was a bridge between the Jazz of my father and the rock-fusion music I favored at the time… like Jeff Beck and Cream. And though I developed into more of a Rhythm and Blues/Folk guitar player… sometimes the George Benson licks just pop out.
In my early twenties I played in a band covering many of these tunes and for the most part I played Rhythm guitar… which I grew to enjoy… and on moving to LA some years later… this ability and or love for playing the Rhythm parts (and to have all the sounds and set-ups) put me in good stead and subsequently I found plenty of work touring and recording as the rhythm guitarist.
But thanks must go to Phil Upchurch, the rhythm guitar player for GB (and Michael Jackson, Quincy Jones, Donny Hathaway). He inspired me to find the groove laid down by the drums and bass.
Several years ago I met him at a party and I was able to tell him some of my journey and, how much of an influence he had been over my playing. He was so tickled pink, he let me sit at his table and buy him drinks (he was that kind of guy)… and for several hours we chatted about his playing days, our favorite albums and guitar players, guitars, amps and guitar stuff in general. Good times.