There is a long tradition of one-man-bands playing the Blues which reaches back to Daddy Stovepipe in the 20s, Jesse Fuller, Joe Hill Louis right up to Doctor Ross in the 90s. Over in Britain, a young man inspired by the British Blues Boom put together an act that expanded that tradition, but his high, clear voice, cropped hair and ‘boy-next-door’ good looks, meant Duster Bennett was not typical of the Blues performers of the day. Duster’s songwriting talents marked him out as a star that never truly got a chance to shine, as he was taken from us at an early age, but his songs live on after him.
Anthony Bennett was born in Welshpool, Wales in 1946, and in the mid-60s he relocated to London to study. There was a flourishing Blues club scene in South-West London and soon he began playing there as a one-man-band, billed as Duster Bennett. His skill as a harp player got him some session work, as the Blues sound of The Stones and The Animals meant that even mainstream pop records often had a taste of ‘Mississippi Sax’. In the clubs, Duster sounded a lot like a loose-limbed Jimmy Reed as he played guitar with his harp held in a neck-rack and a bass drum/hi-hat combo, and in 1967 he was signed to Mike Vernon‘s Blue Horizon label. His first album, ‘Smiling Like I’m Happy’ featured help from Peter Green, Mick Fleetwood and John McVie, and songs by Jimmy McCracklin, Magic Sam and Juke Boy Bonner alongside his own material. Duster was a popular act on the Blues scene, with club and concert gigs almost every night, where he was often joined by his girlfriend Stella Sutton on backing vocals, and he opened many tours for visiting American Blues stars.
Duster warms up the crowd;
Duster Bennett Discography
This remastered double CD has 44 fine tracks selected from Duster’s albums, singles and even an unreleased tune, along with a 16-page book. This is another of Mike Vernon’s legacy albums, showing the talent he signed to his Blue Horizon label in the 60s. With 44 tracks, this double CD covers the best of Duster’s career.
In 1970, Duster toured Europe and The States with John Mayall, opening the shows as a one-man-band and adding his instrumental skills to The Bluesbreakers main set. Later that year, Duster’s ’12 dbs’ album again featured Peter Green and also Top Topham, the original guitarist with The Yardbirds who was succeeded by Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page. After one more great blues album for Blue Horizon, Duster’s later recordings for Sanctuary Records were much more mainstream, featuring ballads and strings rather than 12-bars and guitar licks. His one-man-Blues-band was still very popular in the clubs but in 1976, after playing a gig with Memphis Slim, Duster’s van was in a fatal collision, so he left us while he was still in his 20s.