A Tribute to Benny "Motown Man" Johnson

Jim Lescault, Director of Amherst Media, remembers Benny "Motown Man" Johnson

Reading the public notice of the recent death of Benny “Motown Man ” Johnson put me into a deep pause, reflecting on my many wonderful interactions with Benny here at the Amherst Media studio.

Most people came to know Benny from his delightful renditions of Motown hits on the streets of Amherst and the surrounding towns. Some called him Benny the Bucket-man, due to him keeping rhythm for himself with an empty joint compound bucket.

Benny, was not only the best dressed person each and every time he was at Amherst Media but he was also the most generous and truly compassionate one in the room. Many of Benny’s trips into the studio were accompanied by his long time producer, and good friend, Ron Nestor,
another veteran ACTV/Amherst Media videographer with deep local ties and even more interesting takes on the world.

Benny could and would interact with whomever was present, getting to know them and leaving them feeling better about themselves after their interactions, and how their day was going. He was always ready and willing to break into an appropriate song to address the issues at hand.

One fond memory I have is when I was accompanying two Amherst police officers towards our community room to discuss the development of Public Service Announcements (PSA) for the Police Department, when they stopped dead in their tracks. They stood in our hallway, speechless, watching Benny in our Studio B, recording his show and talking about getting the vote out and addressing the issue of class in the USA.

The Officers turned to me and asked in disbelief if Benny really had a show at Amherst Media. I said, yes he does, and why wouldn’t he, this is the people’s channel, and who better to talk about what is happening on our local streets than, Benny Johnson.

I am thankful that I had the opportunity to have met Mr. Benny Johnson and witnessed his compassion towards others. His acts of kindness are celebratory through-out the region. His singing infectious, spreading smiles across all those in earshot.

He left me with fond memories and a fuller heart. He brought sunshine on a cloudy day…

We need that purity of love today, right now, we all must find a way to reach out to others. If it is by singing then so be it. If it is beating the pots and pans, then so be it. We need more than ever the sense of community, Mr. Benny “Motown Man” Johnson style.