A Philadelphia Legend and Icon, the late, great Benjamin Bynum Sr. was a major influence on Philly nightlife.
Along with sending condolences to the Bynum brothers Robert and Benjamin Jr., I want to tell the world about Philly nightlife entrepreneur Benjamin Bynum Sr. who passed away last week, with a celebration of his life being held at the top of November at Deliverance Evangelistic Church, on W. Lehigh Avenue.
Mr. Bynum was 98 years young at the time of his passing.
At the same time, the likes of Larry Magid, Stephen Starr, Kathy James, and the late David Carroll were making nightlife, busy and inventive, Ben Bynum was doing likewise for Philly’s Black community – first with his epic Cadillac Club (I dare you to find the raw, bluesy concert-recorded Feeling Good: Billy Paul Live at The Cadillac Club) which eventually became the Impulse discotheque. Then, Mr. Bynum advised and aided his sons, Robert and Benjamin Jr. when they opened their own doors to hotter clubs – still such as (both) Zanzibar Blues, Warmdaddy’s, North by Northwest, Relish and SOUTH Jazz Parlor.
First and foremost, I will always love Mr. Bynum for allowing me to spin records at The Impulse up on North Broad, a gig filled with Funkadelic records and pre-hip hop funk I will never forget (apparently, Philly’s one-time Mayor, Michael Nutter, also DJ-ed there, so I was in pretty swanky company). The Impulse had long been the swellegant Cadillac Club, long before disco took over, and Mr. Bynum was always keen to discuss his bookings and friendships with those who played at the C-Club such as Nina Simone, Count Basie, Aretha Franklin, George Benson, and The Stylistics. Between the Cadillac Club and the Uptown along North Broad, this was the height of Philly’s Black entertainment scene, a time and a place whose past study and history are essential to this city’s (heck, the whole East Coast’s) present and future.
For anyone who has ever heard live soul, funk, blues and jazz and had it paired with great food and drink, Benjamin Bynum Sr. is owed a great and delicious debt.