Chip Benson

Bass Guitar (1966)

Memories of the Nitecaps

I recall the first job I played with the Nitecaps (though I don’t remember where it was). After our set, a lot of the crowd (mostly girls) wanted autographs. Sitting on the stage, there were stacks of 8X11 flyers of the band in a group photo. The bass player pictured in the group photo was Butch Martin so I signed over Butch’s image with either “Butch Martin” or “Chip Benson.”

Another gig I remember was at the Santa Clara County Fairgrounds in the main pavilion building. There were a bunch of stages set up and as soon as one band stopped, another would start up on a different stage. We were playing a fast number, with Jimmy Nite out front doing his thing, and the band members all doing steps. I wasn’t very good at doing steps and playing bass at the same time but I gave it my best shot. Larry and I were doing some step where we stepped forward and then swung around quickly to the right and looked backwards, then we swung back to face the crowd. As I was swinging to the right, Jimmy Nite was moving around singing, and he stepped backwards. The head of my bass knocked him right in the forehead. Jim grabbed his forehead but did a sort of move that made it look like it was part of his dance routine. I noticed that there was a little blood on his forehead also but the number went on without a hitch!

I only played for a few months with the Nitecaps. I was involved in a play at my high school and ended up leaving the band due to play rehearsal and band rehearsal conflicts. Soon after the school play commitment was done, one of the Nitecap mentors, Dave Daly, asked me to play in his band The New Dawn and I joined that group.

I will always be grateful that I was able to play in the Nitecaps. It was a big part of my early musical years as well as big part in building up friendships with wonderful people that would last a lifetime. Over the years I’ve played in various bands with Nitecap members and kept friendships alive with others. I remember talking with Jim Bruno (Jimmy Nite) a few years back and we both talked about how lucky we were to grow up in the town we did and during the musical era of the 1950s and 1960s that we did. It never fails that when I think back to my time with the Nitecaps a smile comes to my face. Those days are special memories for me.

After the Nitecaps

I went to Los Angeles during the late 1960s and 1970s and played studio sessions, some of which were produced by Richard Perry. Ella Fitzgerald was the artist on one of Richard’s sessions. I also worked many night clubs over the years and went on some tours. I played R&B, jazz, and country gigs. I also worked with Marilyn Scott on her first album back in 1979. I kept playing music up until 2001. At that time, I was a member of a San Jose band called Sangria. Back in the 1960s and 1970s there was a band called The Barons of Soul which eventually morphed into Sangria. Another Nitecap mentor, Tommy Sosa, was a member of The Barons of Soul.