If you grew up listening to the radio, you might have hummed one or two of his songs. John “Jellybean” Benitez is a multi-talented individual, born November 7, 1957, in Bronx, New York City but from a Puerto Rican descent. He is an American songwriter, DJ, guitarist, drummer, remixer, and a producer. He has produced songs for the likes of Madonna, Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, Pointer Sisters, Debbie Harry, amongst others.
Over the past two decades, he has consistently thrived in the entertainment industry. He had an interest in music from a young age. He grew up listening to his sister’s music collection, which in turn increased his love for music. He went on to attend De Witt Clinton and John F. Kennedy high school, but he couldn’t finish as he dropped out before graduating.
In 1975, he relocated to Manhattan, as a young adult he would go out to disco nightclubs; this exposure spiked his interest in becoming a Disc Jockey. Not long after, he started performing at a nightclub called Experiment 4 and Electric Circus. Due to his expertise at DJing, he soon became an in-demand DJ who led him to work at Paradise Garage, Xenon, Hurrah, and Studio 54. By 1981, he got hired as the resident DJ for club Funhouse.
Benitez kept up his masterful manipulation of remixes; he remixed a lot of singles, like the “The Bubble Bunch” by Jimmy Spice, “Walking on Sunshine” by Rockers Revenge, and “Planet Rock” by Afrika Bambaataa. He had a lot of musicians coming to him for a remix of their songs, which led him to how he met Madonna. At the time, Madonna was singing in a group called “Breakfast Club”. Stephen Bray, who was a member of the group, went to Benitez for a remix, which led to him being introduced to Stephen’s band mate, Madonna. Madonna and Benitez had a romantic relationship that lasted a few years. By 1983, Benitez was remixing Madonna’s debut album, inclusive of the singles “Lucky Star”, “Borderline,” “Everybody”, and “Holiday.”
His reputation led him to be one of the most sought-after DJs; he went on to launch his recording career. His debut “Whatupi” garnered a lot of reception and further bundled his name within the industry. He also produced “Love will save the day” by Whitney Houston from her second album. Many more artists brought their songs to be remixed: the likes of Shalamar, Hall & Dates, Patti Austin, George Benson, Sheena Easton, Bobby O, James Ingram, Paul McCarthy, Talking Heads, Billy Joel and many more.
In the 80s, Benitez scored two pop hits in the US which was produced and released under the Jellybean Monicker: “Who Found Who” which featured Elisa Fiorillo, and “SidewalkTalk” featuring Madonna.
He has remained consistent over the years and continued to deejay for shows and events. He is the owner of Jellybean Soul, Jellybean Music Group, and Jellybean Productions.