About Ben Carruthers

Ben Carruthers was known primarily as an actor, particularly for his role as the moody brother in John Cassavettes' groundbreaking late-'50s independent film Shadows. He appeared in several other movies in the 1960s, including Jonas Mekas' Guns of the Trees and The Dirty Dozen. As a singer, he also made one intriguing single in 1965, credited to Ben Carruthers and the Deep.

Carruthers, an American, was at the time living in London. His single, "Jack o' Diamonds"/"Right Behind You," was produced by the renowned Shel Talmy (at that time also producing the Who and the Kinks) and issued on Parlophone in June 1965. The words from "Jack o' Diamonds" were taken from a Bob Dylan poem on the back of Dylan's fourth album, Another Side of Bob Dylan, and put to music by Carruthers. Although Carruthers had an unremarkable voice, it was a good single, not so much folk-rock as good second-tier British Invasion in arrangement. The flip side, "Right Behind You," was written by Carruthers alone and was in an entirely different vein. Close to straight jazz, it was reminiscent of the jazzblues-rock crossover of other London acts of the time, such as Georgie Fame.

"Jack o' Diamonds" was not a hit, and in fact, if listeners know it at all, it's probably through the good version that Fairport Convention included on their first album. (In passing, it also serves as evidence of just how fanatical Fairport Convention members must have been as record collectors to even be aware of the original version in the first place.) Both sides of the single were reissued on the British Invasion rarities anthology The R&B Scene (although the Carruthers single wasn't too R&B-influenced). Carruthers, who didn't do other singles, died in 1993. ~ Richie Unterberger