Richard Bennett's résumé is just silly; it's just flat out ridiculous. Not only has he been Mark Knopfler's go to guitar player in the studio and on the road since 1994 (and still is,) but he spent almost seventeen years (1971-1987) as Neil Diamond's guitar player before that. That's two full careers for just about any other player; you'd think that would be about enough. But from almost the moment a teenage Richard Bennett hit Los Angeles - after taking the necessary time for birth and learning to walk in Chicago and for high school in Phoenix, Arizona - he has been in demand as a session player whose rep among his fellow players is as impressive as his track record – and record of tracks; his first session work coming during summer vacation while still in high school, courtesy of his friend and mentor, Wrecking Crew member Al Casey.
Richard's played with and/or handled production chores for a Beatle (Ringo Starr) and the man responsible for the skiffle craze in England that inspired the Beatles (and most of the great British groups who burst upon the ‘60s pop scene) to pick up guitars in the first place – Lonnie Donegan. He's performed or recorded with some of the very founders and pioneers of rock and roll; Brenda Lee, Conway Twitty, Gene Vincent, an Everly Brother or two and put his skills to work in service of some of the greatest pop singers ever; Andy Williams, Vicki Carr, Sammy Davis Jr., Peggy Lee and Johnny Mathis.
In Nashville circles he's the man who's gotten the call from Roseanne Cash, Marty Stuart, Emmylou Harris, Phil Lee, Ray Price, Steve Earle, Rodney Crowell and Waylon Jennings to produce or play guitar and often to do both. He's a certified Soul Man –at least Smokey Robinson, Gladys Knight and the Four Tops think so.
For goodness' sakes he's worked with Barbara Streisand and T-Bone Walker with Chubby Checker in-between. He's got the chops to have picked with certified guitar heroes like Duane Eddy, Glen Campbell and the Ventures. He's recorded with a Petula (Clark) a Partridge (Family) and a possum (Mr. George Jones.)
With curriculum vitae like that you'd think he'd walk around with a head the size of a casaba melon and wear T-shirts that say: "I'm Richard Bennett (But You Know That Don't You?)."
Yet, for all his vaunted credits and matchless talent he's a remarkably grounded, reasonable and extremely likeable person. He's not St. Francis of Assisi or anything. When he's lost he probably drives around too long without asking for directions like any other guy. He probably leaves the seat up now and then too – but never in someone else's house. Who knows, he may even chase the neighborhood kids off his front lawn now and then. But boy can he play guitar. Like-a ringin' a freakin' bell.
Richard Bennett is the one you want when it absolutely positively has to be done right. The one you want if you're a hotshot player yourself and you want someone who can keep up with without getting in your way; someone who can not only take the reins when you're off your game a bit but who can set you back on track and inspire you to aim for and hit things you might not have taken aim at before. And he'll do it in a way that makes you feel proud of being able to keep up with him.
If you're an everyday kind of working player or not a big time pop star, he'll re-inspire you. He'll make you remember why you picked up your instrument in the first place. And he'll give you another goal, set another bar for you to work toward. If you're a music lover (and where would any musician be without you?) he'll just make you happy that Thomas Edison made it possible for you to hear him play whenever you want to and that you have ears to hear him on the first place.
Richard Bennett likes a good joke, a good meal, and a good movie and still feels the joy and wonder of great music of all kinds and he knows and appreciates how lucky he is to have been a part of so much of it. Richard Bennett is one sweet, swinging, soulful, cool rocking jazzbo cowboy guitar player. He won't tell you that. But everyone who's played with him or just heard him play sure will.
– Rick Allen, September 2008