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The Legend of Benny Puckett


bennypuckett.jpg
The THE BENNY PUCKETT STORE is now open!
Well? What are you waiting for?


Frustrations with TicketMaster are not new ...... they go back decades ..... only back in the late 1980s, mid 1990s it wasn't online tickets sales, but telephone ticket sales. But one experience led to a HUGE Phenomenom, the legend of which still lives on today ........

Perhaps a little background history is in order for those of you who may not be familiar with the
legendary Gulf&Western recording artist Benny Puckett.

Many years ago, back in the middle of a decade known as the 1990s, in an online community known
as the AOL Margaritaville Cafe, Benny Puckett attempted a short lived comeback from his storied past.
Forget Kenny Chesney people, Benny Puckett was the original "almost was", with a strange and
mysterious career that eerily paralleled that of his idol Jimmy Buffett. *

* 3 months before Jimmy released CILCIA, Benny released Changes In Longitudes, Changes In Time Zones ..... more on this later.

Benny's exploits were legendary and his fans, known as Puckheads, were obsessed with Benny. Nothing would set off a firestorm of indignation more than reading a concert review in High Times Magazine that spelled Benny's last name with one "T" (that's PucketT people! Get it right!).

Benny's career began, peaked and ultimately faded away in a short span in the late 1970s and early 1980s, but not before he had released a spectacular catalog of 8-tracks. Benny was always a mysterious character (his face rarely appeared on his album covers and his hand written album liner notes were generally considered to be illegible) but stories and tales were told and passed from Puckhead to Puckhead.

Then for 15 years, Benny dropped off the face of the world.

That is until 1995 when the following appeared in an early online community known as the AOL Margaritaville Cafe ......

On August 19th, 1995, a young medical intern Parrothead by the screen name Wildcatt76 called up TicketMaster to get Jimmy BuffettTickets. Only the operator was either a real dummy or she just had a really bad connection and she kept replying, "But we don't have Benny Puckett Tickets!"

 quoted from Wildcatt76's post in the AOL Margaritaville Cafe .... 1995:
  OK. OK. I have an all time new low for Ticket**stard. First of all, I called at 9AM this morning, only to be put on hold for 10 minutes "until the next available operator is available". Well when the operator got done stuffing a couple of more doughnuts in her mouth and decided to answer my call, I tell her I needed tickets to the Jimmy Buffett concert at Sandstone on Sept 30. She said "Who?" Benny Pucket?" I said "NO! JIMMY BUFFETT" at which time she informed me that if I had a problem not to take it out on her. Well I said I didn't have a problem, and I asked to speak to her Supervisor, at which time she HUNG UP on me! OK, I'm fuming by this time, but in my rage I somehow forgot to remember her name, so I couldn't call back and complain. So what do I do???
   Maybe that stupid quality control recording they warn you about was running and someone will hear it and she will get canned.
   So when I had cooled off enough, I called back and finally got through, only to be told "Sorry, we only have lawn seats left", to which I replied "Well how about the Benny Puckett concert, has he sold out?" She pecked away at her keyboard and said "Who?".
So I told her, "Well he's a pretty obscure act and TM might not be handling his ticket sales." To which she replied,
"I think I've heard of him, what's he sing?"
   "You know, Ticket Agent Blues, Score one for the good guys. When in Rome .... "
She said maybe she hadn't heard of any of those.
   Anyway I'll find a way to get my Jimmy Buffett tickets, but until then, keep calling for those Benny Puckett tickets and have a very fruitful day!"

And from that one post, a legend began and the short lived Benny Puckett comeback was launched.
Bits and pieces of Benny's life, song catalog and legend were posted out on AOL for nearly 2 years.

A book was even published (honestly) and presented to Jimmy Buffett at the Tonight Show, along with a Benny Puckett's Back! - World Tour T-Shirt. Jimmy was happy and so were we.

Jimmy Buffett ...... Benny Puckett.     Benny Puckett ...... Jimmy Buffett.   Who was the original? Who was "borrowing" ideas from who? The debate raged for years, and in some circles, still continues today. Let's examine the facts as we know them and I'll leave it to you to decide for yourselves. Three critical albums may hold the best clues.

Remember Changes In Longitudes, Changes In Time Zones? Poor Benny was always arriving 1 hour late or 1 hour early for his gigs because he was perpetually confused by the time zone changes.

"It's those changes in longitudes, changes in time zones,
I never can get it quite straight.
With all of my drinkin' and not too much thinkin',
If I can't get it right, I'm a gonna be late."

"Reading security signs in some big airport,
Reminds me of the gun that I packed ......... "
                               Benny Puckett - Changes In Longitudes, Changes In Time Zones (1976)

Another Benny Puckett classic 1980's album ..... Beer Nut CB. Break 1-9 for the Puckheads. Remember how we were all trying to guess Benny's CB handle? I'm still in awe how eerily Benny's career mirrored Jimmy's. Just who was "borrowing" album ideas from who?

Thank God for eBay. I recently was able to replace my favorite worn out 70's Benny Puckett album One Particular Truckstop. What I need now is to find a copy of the concert video "Live By The Hay" (recorded live at an impromptu show on his uncle's beet farm in Arkansas), but if I remember correctly, Benny only released that on Betamax and not VHS (he was always a tad behind the technical curve). His refusal to stop releasing his music on anything other than vinyl or 8-track tape was perhaps the biggest contributor to his 15 year disappearance from the music world beginning in the early 1980s.

The Old AOLers most certainly remember Benny Puckett,
and now you have been introduced to the legend as well.

It's now up to you to decide what is fact ....... and what is fiction.

                                                                

"Well now, Benny Puckett was a redneck,
From down around Tulsa way,
He drove a crappy car,
He would drink in the bars,
And he would ... play to pay.

One night, he did wind up,
In a Mt. Pilot dive saloon,
Nobody knew, least Benny Puckett, 
That he’d end up writin' this tune."

"He met up with Miss Janice,
A waitress down at the Cafe,
Half-Tequila, Half-Beer,
She just had no fear,
And he'd greet her with a 'Howdy, Hey!', 
One night, he did find her,
Drinkin' with some hot old guy,
So he threw over his shoulder, 
Then he up and told her,
"We're outahere, so long and goodbye!"

"It's just a redneck crime of passion,
Done in typical backwoods fashion,
That's what the wanted posters did say,
It's just a Puckett crime of passion,
Ole Milwaukee and gums a gnashin', 
Yeah but that's what the people like to talk about,
Way down Mt. Pilot way, way down Mt. Pilot way"

"Well now they never found Miss Janice,
She was featured on COPS just last week,
Benny Puckett disappeared in a panic,
Some say he's livin' with his Uncle Zeke,
And no one talks about ‘em no more', 
It happened just a few hours ago,
But people will lie and I’m getting’ high,
In Mt. Pilot they come and they go!”

"It's just a redneck crime of passion,
Done in typical backwoods fashion,
That's what the wanted posters did say,
It's just a Puckett crime of passion,
Ole Milwaukee and gums a gnashin', 
Yeah but that's what the people like to talk about,
Way down Mt. Pilot way, way down Mt. Pilot way"
         
Benny Puckett – Redneck Crime Of Passion
          from the Album: A White Sports Car & A Pink Citation (1973)