‘I was tired and wanted to go home, so I put on this crazy affected voice. Quincy Jones promised he wouldn’t use it – but he did!’
George Benson, singer and guitarist
Quincy Jones was looking for artists for his new label, Qwest Records. I’d started to cross over from jazz and Quincy asked: “Do you want to make the world’s greatest jazz record – or go for the throat?” I laughed and said: “Go for the throat!” I’d seen what he’d done with Michael Jackson’s Off the Wall. He said: “George, put yourself in my hands. I know more about you than you do yourself.” I was insulted at first, but calmed down, and things started happening.
I asked for the same musicians he’d used on Off the Wall. The sound they made inspired me. Quincy also brought in Rod Temperton, formerly of the band Heatwave, who’d written wonderful songs for Michael. Rod was always in the background except for when something went wrong. He didn’t mind saying: “George, you’re singing in the wrong key.” Quincy was afraid of driving so I’d give him a lift to the studio in Burbank. In the end, we made a great team.
After a month in the studio, I’d packed my bags when Quincy called and said they had one more song for me. I wanted to go home but he insisted: “Man, it’s a good song. It won’t take long.” So I went back to the studio – and from bar one, Give Me the Night had a good feeling. We did the song in a day. Quincy heard my guitar part in the middle and said he wanted it all over the record, including the intro. That became the hook.