You don’t often hear about a military veteran venturing into the music industry. Sure, you’ve got the likes of Johnny Cash, Jimi Hendrix, Willie Nelson, and MC Hammer. But the reality is that military veterans in showbiz are far and few in between. The list narrows down more when considering genres like Rock, Pop, Country and Blues. That’s until you come across Nickolas Benson.
A brief look into Nickolas Benson’s background shows that music came naturally to him. After all, his father was a band leader and a traveling musician, passing his talents onto Nickolas. Similarly, musical talent runs in the family, with his cousin WYATT being an up-and-coming pop artist who has already established himself as a tour de force by becoming a platinum-selling songwriter.
Hailing from a ranch in South Dakota, Nickolas discovered his passion for music when he was eight. Benson was standing in his grandma’s kitchen when his ears became laser focused on the Randy Travis’ hit, “The Hard Rock Bottom of Your Heart.” Instantly, things clicked. Nickolas knew he had found an essential part of himself.
Some parents are often reluctant to indulge their children in the performance arts, but Nickolas’ stepfather, Kelly Jones, wasn’t. Kelly bought Nickolas his first and second guitar, after hearing him trying to play by ear.
Nickolas’ musical pursuits would continue through high school and change again when his high school band leader, Clyde Teel, told him he had a good ear for music, though he didn’t love playing trumpet. Nickolas later moved to drums, but Clyde left a lasting influence on him, showing him he could play the music he wanted, forever.
Passion for the arts and entertainment, Nickolas attended the Los Angeles Film and Recording School in Hollywood, California. He attained three degrees in Entertainment Business, Audio and Music production, graduating Summa Cum Laude with straight As.
Like every artist, Nickolas’ musical influences show in his work. He idolized John Lennon, Gram Parsons, Keith Richards, Steven Tyler, and Mick Jagger – a varied list with a crossover of genres. However, Benson wasn’t only interested in sticking to one lane. He wanted to be an entertainer, a showstopper.
The likes of Tyler and Jagger inspired him because of their raw charisma and stage presence. They were larger-than-life figures on the stage when the spotlight shone upon them. But Gram Parsons was the one who left a lasting influence because Benson, like Parsons, came from the heartland of country music. He would also eventually write an album called “Songs in the Key of Gram,” available on SoundCloud, in room #8 at the Joshua Tree Inn, where Parsons died.
An established songwriter, musician and entertainer in his own right, Benson has grown to carry the musical legacy of his favorite influential artists on stage. He enjoys putting on a show, as is evident by watching him live. Benson effortlessly blends and wades through different genres like Rock, Pop, Country, Blues, you name it. He often performs over a hundred hits from over fifty artists at the audience’s request.
Nickolas’ musical achievements speak for themselves. His song “Rodeo and the Radio” was featured on CMT’s hit show, Nashville. In addition, it gained over 800 weekly plays on Country music radio over the summer of 2019. Similarly, his hit “Song for You” had its official music video featured on CMT’s website in January 2021. No matter what, Benson remains extremely proud of serving in the military as a truck driver, at war in the Persian Gulf.
His achievements are a far cry from the early days when Nickolas and his girlfriend would walk up and down Hollywood Boulevard, handing out flyers to tourists for his shows at Rainbow Bar Room or Piggly Wiggly. However, that doesn’t mean the challenges have subsided. Benson finds himself in a unique space where the zeitgeist has gravitated toward many different types of music over the years. Today, he sticks out like a sore thumb, a remnant from a previous generation playing the classic musical genres, while adding his own fresh original #RockPopCountryBlues music too.
Nickolas’ hard work has paid dividends. He has cultivated an online fan base of over 100K fans devoted to catching his online shows. Those interested can learn more about them here. In addition, he’s also working on his true crime book and producing a double album titled “Desert Dogs,” written during his tours in the Middle East, that you can also find on SoundCloud.
Nickolas Benson has also worked extensively as an actor on popular shows like Entourage and feature films like Dreamgirls. Consider catching one of his online shows if you’re looking for a performer who moves like Jagger, has swagger like Strait, singing and dancing like Tyler. You won’t be disappointed.