Benny Mardones, singer of hit song ‘Into the Night,’ Vietnam vet, dies at 73
Benny Mardones, 73, singer of the hit “Into the Night,” died Monday, June 29, his friend and record producer Joel Diamond announced.
Mardones, a Vietnam veteran, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 2000.
“Life has a beginning and an end for all of us,” Diamond said in a brief Mardones biography he released, “but one thing that will always be said of Benny Mardones is that he definitely squeezed the tube-of-life completely dry.”
A few years after his hit “Into the Night” hit number 11 on the charts in 1980, Mardones moved to Syracuse and formed a special bond with Central New York, playing local venues for decades, including his last concert in 2017 at Turning Stone Resort Casino. But it was at Pfohl’s Beach House in Sylvan Beach where Mardones became a sign of summer, giving concerts every Memorial Day and Labor Day weekend in the 1990s and 2000s.
Mardones also performed at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts in 2002, when the Lake Placid Film Forum screened a documentary film about him, “Into The Night: The Benny Mardones Story.”
“It was almost like a cult following,” said Jerry Kraus, a radio announcer for 96.9 FM WOUR from 1978 to 2007, in a 2019 interview. “He was just the ultimate showman. He could walk into a room and make friends with everybody instantly, had a smile that would light up the room and the gift of gab to go along with it.”
Mardones, a singer-songwriter who also wrote for stars such as Brenda Lee and Three Dog Night, achieved a rare success with “Into the Night,” when a re-release in 1989 hit No. 20 on the Billboard Top 100 charts, putting Mardones in a select group of performers who’ve made the list twice with the same song, according to Diamond.
A ballad version of the song, released last year, also made it onto the charts, but not in the top 20.
The song has been played more than 8 million times, according to the biography from Diamond.
After Mardones moved to Syracuse, a local radio station asked him to do a concert for $8,000, according to a story included in his bio. A few days before the concert, Mardones asked who he would be opening for and was surprised to hear that he was the headliner, the bio recounted. The concert promoter told him that the station had been playing his music and area residents wanted to hear more, it said.
When he walked on stage, Mardones saw a capacity crowd of 12,000 people and had to leave the stage during his first song because he was crying, according to the bio.
“The crowd saw my emotional breakdown, and it only inspired them to start chanting my name,” Mardones recalled, according to the bio. “From that day on, my tour dates began and ended in Central New York.”
Mardones, who was born Ruben Armand Mardones in Cleveland, Ohio, is survived by his wife Jane, his son Michael and his sister Louise.
Details of a memorial service will be announced in the near future, Diamond said.
The Enterprise staff contributed to this report.