Benny Mardones, best-known for the 1980 hit “Into The Night,” has died. Billboard reports that Mardones died today at home in Menifee, California after a long battle with Parkinson’s disease. Mardones was 73.
Mardones was born in Cleveland, the son of an absent Chilean father, and he grew up in the Maryland suburbs of Baltimore. Mardones served in the Navy during the Vietnam War and then found work as a staff songwriter at Mercury Records in the ’70s. Late in the decade, Mardones took advantage of his ragged, huge, emotionally wracked singing voice and began a career as a performer, touring with Richie Havens and making his debut with the 1978 album Thank God For Girls. The LP featured production from Andrew Loog Oldham and guitar from Mick Ronson, but it didn’t sell. In fact, Mardones’ career only yielded one hit, but it’s a big one.
Mardones’ 1980 sophomore LP Never Run, Never Hide featured “Into The Night,” a tortured and grandly creepy power ballad about an obsession with a 16-year-old girl. The song peaked at #11. In 1989, after a radio DJ ran a where-are-they-now story on Mardones, a re-released “Into The Night” pulled off a rare feat and once again became a hit, this time peaking at #20.
In the years after “Into The Night” made its first impact, Mardones battled alcoholism and cocaine addiction. He cleaned up, moved to Syracuse, and eventually restarted his career, mostly performing regionally in central New York. Mardones kept recording and performing in recent years; his most recent album is 2015’s Timeless, recorded with his backing band the Hurricanes.
Below, watch Mardones’ “Into The Night” video and his performance of “Running Scared” at Showtime’s 1989 Roy Orbison tribute show.