Today, we look back at the only major hit for Beaumont, Texas singer Benny Barnes. His 1956 hit “Poor Man’s Riches” is our Single Of The Day.
First, a bit about Benny. Benny Barnes was born in Beaumont, Texas on January 1st, 1936. He started adulthood as an oilfield worker, but eventually turned to music. He worked for a short time with George Jones, during his early days. Allegedly, George recommended him to Pappy Dailey, who signed Benny to his Starday label.
Following a couple of unsuccessful releases, at least nationally, his recording of “Poor Man Riches” was released by Starday in the Summer of 1956. The record became a hit through the end of the year and early into 1957. “Poor Man’s Riches” climbed as high as #2 on Billboard’s Juke Box charts, and hit #8 and #15 on Billboard’s Most Played By Disc Jockeys and Best Seller charts, respectively. The record also made it as high as #15 on Cashbox’s chart.
Unfortunately, national success was short-lived for Benny Barnes. He appeared on Billboard’s Country top 40 charts only one more time, peaking at #22 with “Yearning” in the Summer of 1961. Benny recorded throughout most of his life, on various labels such as Kapp, Playboy, Mega, and Musicor, among others. Unfortunately, he only mustered a couple of minor chart entries.
Staying in his hometown of Beaumont, he owned and operated a tavern for many years. Benny passed away from cancer on August 27, 1987.
Mike the Country Musicologist is a lifelong music and radio fanatic, lover of vintage agriculture, and big sports fan, including the Colts, Reds, Hurricanes, Pacers, Purdue & Butler Universities. He has collected records since childhood, and focuses on classic country and top 40 oldies music. He convinced Vincennes University to give him an Associate’s Degree in broadcasting. He’s worked for several stations in Indiana and North Carolina. Be sure to follow him on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.