Ben Payton was born in tiny Coila, Mississippi, in the hill country just east of the Delta. His early musical influences included his grandmother Mabel Johnson’s gospel piano playing and his Uncle Joe Birch’s blues guitar. When in his mid-teens, Ben and his family moved to Chicago, where Ben soon became active in the city’s blues scene.
He worked regularly with Bobby Rush and Joe Evans and the Supersonics, who backed many prominent artists as the house band at clubs including Peyton Place, the Green Bunny, and High Chaparral. Ben also played in the R&B bands The Oops and Womb From the Tomb.
In 1970 Ben traveled to Morocco with jazz pianist Randy Weston, and stayed for a six-month engagement at a club. Ben was part of the R&B group Chicago Sounds, which opened the show and also backed Weston.
Back home in Chicago, Ben worked with artists including Eddie Shaw and the Wolf Gang, Junior Wells, Fenton Robinson, Little Mack Simmons, Barkin’ Bill Smith, Taildragger, Alvin Cash, Eddie C.. Campbell, Bobby King, Big Moose Walker, Muddy Waters Jr., Vince McCollum, Tony Gooden, Doug McDonald, Ron Harris, and Ike Anderson.
In 1977 Ben left the music scene but performed occasionally. It wasn’t until 2002, after he moved back to his home state of Mississippi, that he returned to his roots performing Delta-style blues.
Ben Payton's voice resonates with a passion for life and his skills as a guitarist evoke the tradition of the original Delta blues greats such as Robert Johnson, Tommy Johnson, Charley Patton, and Son House. Yet Payton has a style all his own.