The Times photo by Betsy Reason // Noblesville’s Rick Benick, former Roadmaster guitar player,  jams during a February benefit and reunion concert in his honor at The Rathskeller in downtown Indianapolis. Benick died Thursday at age 66. Services are 5:30 p.m. Monday at Grace Church in Noblesville, with visitation beginning at 4 p.m.
The Times photo by Betsy Reason // Noblesville’s Rick Benick, former Roadmaster guitar player, jams during a February benefit and reunion concert in his honor at The Rathskeller in downtown Indianapolis. Benick died Thursday at age 66. Services are 5:30 p.m. Monday at Grace Church in Noblesville, with visitation beginning at 4 p.m.

Rick Benick was one of the best guitarists in the business.

He played for Roadmaster, Mitch Ryder, Pure Funk, The Cherry People, Henry Lee Summer and The Alligator Brothers.

Anybody who grew up in the 1970s, ‘80s or ‘90s and who followed these bands remember him well.

Some knew him as “Leroy” or “Golden Rick Wonder.” Throughout his career, Benick has had many names and has met and touched the lives of many people.

In late 2017, Benick was diagnosed with leukemia.

Benick died on Thursday. He was 66. Services are 5:30 p.m. Monday at Grace Church in Noblesville, with visitation beginning at 4 p.m.

Earlier this year, I attended his benefit concert in February that, for fans, was like a step back in time as he gathered with old band members for three hours of live music. It was standing-room only in The Rathskellar in downtown Indianapolis, watching and listening as Benick jammed on the guitar with Roadmaster, Henry Lee Summer, The Alligator Brothers, Carl Storie, The Doo and The Flying Toasters.

Benick was feeling good, “I’m up for the show,” he told me. And he was anxious and excited to perform and see his fans. After the show, he relaxed in a private suite, smoking a cigar, greeting old friends and signing souvenir posters, feeling worn out but glad that he got to perform live again for his fans in this reunion concert.

Earlier, he told me about his great and wonderful life.

Benick was just a little kid when he saw Elvis Presley and The Beatles appear on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”

But he knew he wanted to be a guitar player and perform on stage some day.

He got his first electric “Truetone” guitar from Western Auto in 1964, when he was 12.

Benick would play guitar with friends at his house. During junior high, he played gigs in his school cafeteria, and some teen clubs, “Hang on Snoopy” and “Johnny B. Goode” were some of their songs.

He took guitar lessons but didn’t like them, so he quit. But he kept teaching himself.

“I didn’t know I was good until people started telling me I was good,” said Benick, during an interview this year, sharing how he got started and went on to become nationally known as one of the best guitarists in the business.

Benick was still a teen when he moved from Forest Heights, Maryland, to Kokomo, and joined Nebula Spoon, playing fraternity parties at Indiana University in Bloomington. He then moved back home to play with The Cherry People, a band “that was like heroes to me,” he had said. From there, he moved to Indianapolis and joined Pure Funk with Mike Read on keyboards, Toby Myers on bass and Asher Benrubi, “The Smash,” or WNAP radio’s “Adam Smasher,” on lead vocals, until they changed the name to Roadmaster and they recorded their first album, a local record in 1976. Steve McNally replaced Smasher, and three national records followed.

At February’s benefit concert many of these band members played alongside Benick.

Roadmaster opened for Blue Oyster Cult, Pat Travers, Rush, ZZ Top, Todd Rundgren and Cheap Trick. Benick was feeling pretty cool back then. “Heck, yeah, I was way cool. I was playing guitar in a rock band. My hair was real long, and I was real skinny and was wearing rock ‘n’ roll clothes,” he had said. Benick got to meet famous people, Steven Tyler of Aerosmith, Ted Nugent, Jeff Beck, Jackson Browne, Lou Reed and Todd Rundgren.

After Roadmaster broke up, he had an opportunity to play with Mitch Ryder and, in 1983, they performed on Dick Clark’s “American Bandstand,” (There is a YouTube video of it.) then went to Europe for a month. From 1985-88, he played with Henry Lee Summer. He started his own band, Rick Benick and the Blades with local musicians. Then for nine years, he played a standing gig on Tuesday nights, as “Leroy,” in Summer’s band, The Alligator Brothers, at C.T. Pepper’s in Broad RIpple, 1992-2001.

After that, he moved to Nashville, Tenn., and played with country artist Hal Ketchum, and played Grand Ole Opry with him and tours, and moved back to Indiana, in 2010.

He moved to Noblesville in 1996 and lived in Carmel before that. Benick said earlier this year that he was retired from the music business and living a quiet life with his wife, Kay, in Noblesville. But he still had the passion to play guitar.

His inspirations through the years? “My biggest guitar hero in the world is Jeff Beck, then Steve Vai and Joe Satriani, and Jimmy Page from Led Zeppelin,” he said.

Benick said earlier this year, “I still love playing guitar, I love playing in bands, playing in front of people.”

Memorial contributions may be made to the Leukemia Research Foundation, in memory of Rick at: www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/rick-benick/support.

Funeral arrangements are being handled by Randall & Roberts Funeral Home, Noblesville-Fishers.

Read Rick Benick's obituary in today's edition of The Times. 

-Contact Betsy Reason at betsy@thetimes24-7.com.