Stories of Standards: "Along Came Betty"

Apr 13, 2018

Benny Golson

Tune in to Jazz with Victor Cooper - weekdays from 6-9 a.m. MT - for Stories of Standards to hear our favorite versions of this song all week long starting Monday, April 16!

Stories of Standards is sponsored by ListenUp - If you love music, you’ll love ListenUp.

In 1958 Benny Golson was inspired by the woman he was dating to write “Along Came Betty”. It has since become a favorite of saxophonists, guitarists and piano players; Jon Hendricks wrote lyrics. The first recording of “Along Came Betty”, on the seminal hard bop album “Moanin’” by Art Blakey and the Jazz Messengers, featured an all-Philadelphia cast of Art Blakey (drums), Lee Morgan (trumpet), Benny Golson (tenor saxophone), Jymie Merritt (bass) and Bobby Timmons (piano). Golson wrote the arrangements as well as four of the album’s six tracks.

Benny Golson (1929-present) grew up in Philadelphia, where as a teenager he and John Coltrane became friends. Golson left Howard University in 1951 to play with Tiny Grimes’ band, then joined Bull Moose Jackson’s R&B band before going on to play first with Lionel Hampton, then with Dizzy Gillespie. He joined Art Blakey’s band for the year 1958, then formed Jazztet with Art Farmer from 1959 to 1962. In 1967 Golson went to Hollywood, where he wrote commercials, scored TV shows and composed/arranged for musicians ranging from Mama Cass to Itzak Perlman. Honors include over a dozen doctorates, tours for the State Department. His concerto for bass and chamber orchestra was performed at Lincoln Center. His composition “I Remember Clifford” was choreographed by Twyla Tharp, whose ballet company performed it in 1995.

He appeared in the movie “The Terminal”, a film which starred Tom Hanks as a man whose country falls to a revolution while he is travelling, making his passport invalid and him into a man without a country. The only reason the man was travelling was to get Benny Golson to autograph a copy of “A Great Day in Harlem”, a 1958 photograph of 57 jazz musicians in front of a brownstone. Of the musicians in the photo, only Benny Golson and Sonny Rollins are still alive.