Tuesday, August 30, 2022

3 Men Called Ben

Active between 1995-1997, Benz were an all-male trio consisting of Ben Ofoedu (Big Ben), Benjamin Balogun (Tim Shadez) and Tony Thompson (Darkboy) Balogun was formally signed to the Island Records and went by the name of Overlord X between 1989-1990 and while performing Balogun met Ofeodu and the rest is history. With the addition of Balogun’s friend Thompson (whose middle name was Benedict), the group as Benz released 5 singles between 1995-1997 (3 under RCA, 2 independently) but it seemed the odds were stacked against them despite the buzz surrounding them. At one point, Mercedes Benz brought a lawsuit against them and in 1996 their potential fourth single on RCA was scuppered by Sony who refused to allow them sample clearance for Michael Jackson’s song Billie Jean. Now posted on their You Tube channel in full, the song could’ve sealed their fate as the next big group in Britain – radio stations went crazy for it - but sadly it was not to be. Their album aptly titled “Three Men Called Ben” was not released. Their final two singles seemed to be released independently before they all went their separate ways. Ofendu stayed with RCA records and eventually released one single “Your Love” in 2000 which seems to have been forgotten. He along with Thompson also did vocal work for Phats & Small while Balogun, the musician of the group, went on to produce and write for other artists.

Taken from the December 1995 version of Echoes:

(Ofoedu) “We are three guys from different walks of life. Dark Boy, he goes for soul music. He brings the “Soul” to the tracks. Shadez goes with the deep hip hop, the hard bass, the darkness” Tim Shadez completes the picture “My man Ben, he’s more on the ‘rock’ side.”