A singer-songwriter from Middlesbrough, England, recognisable for his distinctive, husky voice and slide guitar playing. Rea has sold over 30 million albums worldwide.
Whatever Happened to Benny Santini? is the debut album by Chris Rea, released in 1978.
The first single lifted from the album, "Fool (If You Think It's Over)", is arguably Rea's best known song, and remains his biggest hit in the United States, peaking at number twelve on the Billboard Hot 100 and reaching number one on the Adult Contemporary Singles chart. Unlike most of Rea's other singles, "Fool..." was not a great success on the UK Singles Chart, failing to chart on its first release and only reaching number thirty when re-released in early 1979 to capitalise on its U.S. success. This success was also helped by being played extensively by Radio Caroline, as it was dedicated to the British Home Office, who were trying to put the station off the air.
The title of the album is a reference to a name Rea's UK record label (Magnet) had considered christening him with to make him sound more attractive commercially.
Whatever Happened to Benny Santini? was produced by Gus Dudgeon, who's perhaps most famous for producing most of Elton John's album output in the 1970s. Rea was reportedly dissatisfied with the final mix of the album; he later went some way to rectify this to his satisfaction starting with 1988s greatest hits compilation New Light Through Old Windows, where "Fool..." was presented in a remixed form. Dudgeon went on to produce Rea's next effort, Deltics.
The name in the album "Benny Santini" was rumoured to have been a stage name Rea considered before he settled on his own name.