Ben Michael Jackson.jpg
Single by Michael Jackson
from the album Ben
B-side"You Can Cry on My Shoulder"
ReleasedJuly 12, 1972
RecordedNovember 1971
Producer(s)The Corporation
Michael Jackson singles chronology
"Ain't No Sunshine"
"With a Child's Heart"

"Ben" is a song written by Don Black and Walter Scharf for the 1972 film of the same name (a spin-off to the 1971 killer rat film Willard). It was performed by Lee Montgomery in the film and by Michael Jackson over the closing credits. Jackson's single, recorded for the Motown label in 1972, spent one week at the top of the Billboard Hot 100, making it Jackson's first number one single in the US as a solo artist.[1] Billboard ranked it as the number 20 song for 1972.[2] It also reached number 1 on the ARIA Charts, spending eight weeks at the top spot.[1] The song also later reached a peak of number 7 on the UK Singles Chart.[1] In 2004, the song appeared in The Ultimate Collection.

"Ben" won a Golden Globe for Best Song. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1973, losing to "The Morning After" by Maureen McGovern from The Poseidon Adventure. Jackson lip-synced to the song at the Oscars ceremony, possibly as his vocal range had shifted since its recording.[3]


"Ben" was originally written for Donny Osmond, but he was on tour at the time and unavailable for recording, so Black and Scharf offered the song to Jackson instead.[4] In addition to its one week at number 1 in the U.S., the song also later reached a peak of number 7 on the British pop chart.[1] "Ben" won a Golden Globe for Best Song. It was also nominated for an Academy Award for Best Original Song in 1973; Jackson performed the song in front of a live audience at the ceremony.[3] Billboard called it a "beauty".[5]

Although Jackson had already become the youngest artist to ever record a number 1 ("I Want You Back" with The Jackson 5, in 1970),[6] "Ben" made him the third-youngest solo artist, at 14, to score a number 1 hit single. Only Stevie Wonder, who was 13 when "Fingertips" went to number 1, and Osmond, who was months shy of his 14th birthday when "Go Away Little Girl" hit number 1 in 1971, were younger. The song is one of Jackson's most re-released, having appeared on The Jackson 5 Anthology, The Best of Michael Jackson, 18 Greatest Hits, Michael Jackson Anthology, Jackson 5: The Ultimate Collection, The Essential Michael Jackson, Michael Jackson: The Ultimate Collection, Hello World: The Motown Solo Collection, The Definitive Collection, The Jacksons Story, the North American version of Number Ones (even though here it is the 1981 live version), some versions of King of Pop and Icon.

A live recorded version was released on the 1981 album The Jacksons Live! and remixed versions have appeared on The Remix Suite, The Stripped Mixes and some versions of Immortal. After Jackson's death, singer Akon released a remix of the song with his own background vocals and Jackson's original vocal solo.


Critical reception

AllMusic editor Lindsay Planer wrote about the success of the song: "Like much of the Motown empire at the time, the title track's multimedia exposure, coupled with strong crossover appeal, ensured that "Ben" scored the artist his first Pop Singles' chart-topper" and he highlighted the track.[20] Rolling Stone editor Vince Aletti was not satisfied: "The title song is lovely, no doubt, and Michael packs it with a surprising amount of feeling (his delivery of "They don't see you as I do/I wish they would try to" still tears me up) but it's all a little too thick for my tastes".[21]


Sales for Ben
Region Sales
Mexico 51,000[22]
United States 1,700,000[23]

Marti Webb version

Single by Marti Webb
from the album Encore
B-side"Nothing Ever Changes"
RecordedAngel Recording Studios, London
LabelStarblend Records
Producer(s)John Altman
Marti Webb singles chronology
"For the Touch of Your Love"
"Ready for Roses Now"

In 1985, the song became a top 10 hit again in the U.K. when covered by Marti Webb[24] as a tribute to Ben Hardwick, a young liver transplant patient.[citation needed] This version reached #5 in the U.K. Singles Chart and was one of the singer's biggest hits.[24] The song's lyricist, Don Black, was at the time Webb's manager.[citation needed]

See also


  1. ^ a b c d Cadman, Chris (2007). Michael Jackson: For the Record. Authors OnLine. ISBN 978-0-7552-0267-6.
  2. ^ Billboard Year-End Hot 100 singles of 1972
  3. ^ a b ""Ben" at Oscars". Youtube.com. 2009-06-26. Retrieved 2013-12-26.
  4. ^ "Donny Osmond". Lvrj.com. 2009-06-27. Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2020-12-24.
  5. ^ "Radio Action and Pick Singles" (PDF). Billboard. July 22, 1972. p. 93. Retrieved 2020-08-02.
  6. ^ McDermott, Maeve. "Ranking Michael Jackson's No. 1 hits, in honor of what would have been his 60th birthday". Usatoday.com. Retrieved April 23, 2021.
  7. ^ "Image: RPM Weekly - Library and Archives Canada". Bac-lac.gc.ca. Retrieved 2016-10-06.
  8. ^ "Item: 9840 - Library and Archives Canada". Bac-lac.gc.ca. Retrieved 2016-10-06.
  9. ^ "South African Rock Lists Website - SA Charts 1969 - 1989 Songs (A-B)". Rock.co.za. Retrieved April 23, 2021.
  10. ^ "Michael Jackson — full Official Chart History". Official Charts Company. Retrieved September 30, 2021.
  11. ^ "Michael Jackson Chart History (Hot 100)". Billboard. 21 September 2021. Retrieved 21 September 2021.
  12. ^ Whitburn, Joel (1993). Top Adult Contemporary: 1961–1993. Record Research. p. 118.
  13. ^ "Cash Box Top 100 10/21/72". Tropicalglen.com. 1972-10-21. Archived from the original on 2014-11-11. Retrieved 2016-10-06.
  14. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. Retrieved 2015-01-13.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  15. ^ "flavour of new zealand - search listener". Flavourofnz.co.nz. Retrieved 2016-10-06.
  16. ^ "Michael Jackson - Ben". ARIA Charts. 21 September 2021. Retrieved 21 September 2021.
  17. ^ "Top 100 Hits of 1972/Top 100 Songs of 1972". Musicoutfitters.com. Archived from the original on 2017-04-27. Retrieved 2016-10-06.
  18. ^ "Cash Box YE Pop Singles - 1972". Tropicalglen.com. 1972-12-30. Archived from the original on 2018-09-28. Retrieved 2016-10-06.
  19. ^ "Australian Chart Book". Austchartbook.com.au. Archived from the original on 2016-03-05. Retrieved 2016-10-06.
  20. ^ Lindsay Planer. "Ben - Michael Jackson | Songs, Reviews, Credits, Awards". AllMusic. Retrieved 2013-12-26.
  21. ^ "Michael Jackson: Ben: Music Reviews: Rolling Stone". Rolling Stone. 1972-12-07. Archived from the original on June 18, 2008. Retrieved 2013-12-26.
  22. ^ "Label's Biggest Seller Almost Wasn't Released" (PDF). Billboard. June 7, 1975. p. 24. Retrieved February 1, 2023.
  23. ^ Michael Jackson the Solo Years. Authors On Line. 2003. ISBN 9780755200917.
  24. ^ a b "MARTI WEBB | full Official Chart History | Official Charts Company". Oofficialcharts.com. Retrieved April 23, 2021.