Renowned dance producer/remixer John "Jellybean" Benitez recently participated in an exclusive GRAMMY.com interview discussing how his Puerto Rican roots influence his music, the evolution of the electronic/dance music scene and how he follows his instincts in the studio, among other topics.
"I just like to live in the moment and I think that has a lot to do with my longevity," said Benitez. "What worked for me and continues to work for me is trusting my instincts — just going with my gut — regardless of what anyone may think or feel about what I'm doing."
Born in New York's South Bronx neighborhood, Benitez collected records at an early age and was inspired to become a DJ after visiting a disco club in the mid-'70s. Soon he began performing as a DJ at popular nightclubs in New York such as Studio 54 and the Electric Circus. Benitez's career as a remixer/producer kicked off in the early '80s when he landed work remixing songs for artists such as Afrika Bambaataa ("Planet Rock"), Jimmy Spicer ("The Bubble Bunch") and Rocker's Revenge ("Walking On Sunshine"). In 1983 he produced Madonna's first Billboard Hot 100 hit "Holiday" (No. 16), which appeared on her self-titled debut album.
Benitez released his debut EP, Wotupski!?!, in 1984 and landed at the top of Billboard's Dance Music/Club Play Singles chart with "The Mexican" and "Sidewalk Talk," the latter of which featured Madonna. His full-length debut solo album, 1987's Just Visiting This Planet, cracked the Billboard 200 on the strength of the Top 20 hit "Who Found Who."
Benitez subsequently remixed and produced hits for artists such as Eurythmics, Debbie Harry, Whitney Houston, the Rolling Stones, Sting, and Donna Summer, among others. His most recent albums, Jellybean's House Party and Jellybean's Latin House Party, were released in 2000.
Benitez is scheduled to perform select dates in the United States through October.