You never get too old to fuck," says 72-year-old R&B singer Benny Latimore. "In case they take me for granted, I may be an old dog, but I still know how to bury the bone."
You might or might not know his name, but Latimore has been in showbiz for half a century. He had a string of chart-topping hits in the '70s (most famously "Let's Straighten It Out"), and his new album, Ladies Choice, is available on LatStone Records, the label run by 90-year-old music legend Henry Stone.
Latimore spoke with us about lovin' Miami, the new record, and this Saturday's concert with the Old Skool Gang.
Benny Latimore: With the Old Skool Gang, hosted by Hot 105's Rodney Baltimore. 8 p.m. Saturday, January 21, at American Legion, Harvey W. Seeds Post #29, 6445 NE Seventh Ave., Miami. Tickets cost $20. Visit henrystonemusic.com.
New Times: You were born in Charleston, Tennessee, in 1939. How did you end up in Miami?
Benny Latimore: Well, I was on the road with a guy named Joe Henderson. He had a hit called "Snap Your Fingers," and we came down here with Jackie Wilson and Ben E. King and a whole bunch of other people on a package tour. I got a little taste of Miami. Then a couple months later, we were stuck in a snowstorm in Indiana, and I'd been touring nonstop for a couple of years. I thought back on Miami and decided to get off the road for a while and move down there. That was about 1961.
Where did you live when you moved here?
I lived in Overtown at the Sir John Hotel. I lived there and worked at the Knight Beat, which is the club they had in there. Rent was included in my salary. I had a little efficiency, and my salary when I started out was $90 a week. [Laughs.] And I was glad to have it. Later on, Clyde Killens, who managed the place, he raised me to $110 a week.
What was your job?
I started out in the house band. The bandleader was Frank Duboise, and the band was called the Chicken Scratch, which was a dance back in those days. Me and Frank, we didn't get along real good and he fired me. But Clyde Killens said, "Well, I hired you. Can you play and sing for 30 minutes and hold the crowd between sets?" What was I gonna say? No? I was panic-stricken. I didn't wanna go back up [North] in that cold weather. So I went on, he gave me a raise, and I was making $110 for doin' 30 minutes. And then Frank and I really fell out.
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What can you say about Henry Stone?
The man has been around forever. He knows music and the music business and the business side of the business. Henry has always been a person who can relate to the times. He recognizes my talent, and I appreciate his talent, and I have the utmost respect for his knowledge and his support.
How has show business been for you?
I've been able to travel all over the world and get paid to do something I enjoy doing. They might not pay me as much as other people. But it ain't how much you gross; it's how much you go home with.