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Dennis Benn, former manager at The Exclusive Co. in West Bend, has died

February 6, 2022 – West Bend, WI – Neighbors in West Bend may want to drop the needle on their favorite vinyl today in remembrance of Dennis Benn. The longtime manager of The Exclusive Co. in West Bend has died.

Dennis

Benn was a child of the 60’s. He favored music from Stevie Ray Vaughan to The Beatles and Rolling Stones. Jazz and blues were a staple for Benn who played drums in the local Back Alley Blues Band.

Dennis Benn Dennis Benn

Benn started at The Exclusive Co. in West Bend in October 1976 and was a fixture behind the old front counter for 35 years.

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Maxwell Street Day was a big event for the store as Benn would haul crates full of albums and cassette tapes to the curb in front of 144 N. Main Street.

Record Store Day was also a big event in Spring at The Exclusive Co.

Some in West Bend recall when records were pretty limited in town. “I don’t know that Schultz Brothers (the Baird building) had anything. JC Pennys and Ley’s Department Store (Jeanne’s County Casuals) all carried clothing and we had the Ben Franklin and they had fish and clothes and crafts, so the only record store we had at the time was The Exclusive Company,” said Kathey German.

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“They were in a long, dark, narrow building on Main St. Then they moved to the old Campbell’s store. I’d be flipping through the albums in my groovy crocheted vest; the one that was down to your knees because your aunt made it one-size-fits-none. I bought my In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida album, and my brother made a black light in some shop class and we’d play that album for 99 hours because it was the best drum song ever and then your parents yelled to turn it down, but that really meant off.”

Dennis Benn Dennis Benn

Benn had some health issues and received a successful lung transplant May 26, 2013.

Dennis Benn was 63. He reportedly died in his sleep at home in West Bend on Thursday, February 3, 2022.

A full obituary will be posted when details become available.

 

 

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10 COMMENTS

  1. Actually Dennis was 65. Born in 1956, West Bend West Class of 1974.
    Worked together at “The New” McDonalds as teenagers. His love of music was contagious. Spent many hours together making 8 track mixed tapes back then. Remained a good friend for life (almost 50 years).
    Thank You & Bless You Dennis.

  2. I also knew Dennis from working with him at McDonald’s in the early 70’s. I always thought he was a cool guy, a little different, but in a good way. I’ll never forget one time when the store team was bussed to some big McDonald’s event with Ronald McDonald there. Barely recall the show but on the way back to West Bend, the bus stops at a RR crossing and Dennis goes into a perfect rendition of an approaching and then receding train horn! It was amazing! Anyone else recall how good he was at it? Lol, I don’t think that the bus driver and boss were too pleased with him over it. 😅 I am sorry to hear of his passing. Such a unique person! A memorable one for sure. Condolences to his family and friends.

  3. One of the amazing things about his career was the fact he stayed at one location for so many years. As big companies continue to dominate, employees become interchangeable. Not so at the Exclusive Company. He was always there, day in and day out. The primary reason that store was so unique? They sold cassettes and albums at a lower price than everywhere else. You always knew you could get a cassette you wanted for $5.99 while Musicland, Kohls, etc all were $8.99. And Dennis always made sure they had selection. This whole story taking me back in time as Dennis would write up the paper invoice with that blue ballpoint pen. RIP.

  4. Played the very first Montrose song we ever played together and re-visited “Wish I Was.” The younger me never appreciated this type of song. But Dennis had a knack for finding those buried hidden gems never played on the radio. Those were the tracks he used to make his MSDay tapes with that he played every summer. So, I learned that and played that too, which I should have done back then. You’ll be missed for sure. Peace my friend. Franz

  5. I played drums with Ben in the high school band and worked with him at McDonald’s as well. I haven’t spoken to him since high school in 1976 but I have always remembered how he would say “hamburger“ in a deep voice. There are few people that I remember in that way. I am sorry to hear of his passing and I would like to give paradiddle to him. Bryan

  6. So sorry to get this news. My husband and I spent many happy hours together, shopping at The Exclusive. Dennis was a great part of the experience – such a nice guy and very knowledgeable, too. Sending condolences to all his friends and family.

  7. My lifelong friend. I’ve been friends with Dennis since second grade. I will dearly miss him. Glad to have worked for him for many years. Z Monster rest in peace 🕊️🕊️

  8. His CB handle was “Freight Train”. I totally remember his rendition – heard it many, many times.
    Breaker breaker to the Freight Train, this is King Kong – you out there Dennis?
    I know you are! I’ll miss ya man.

  9. Just came across this..and the memories are rushing through my head. Trips to The Exclusive Company were the highlights of my youth in WB. I spent countless hours flipping thru the album racks to find the next musical treasure. Dennis must of thought I was crazy, showing up weekly or even more often when I could drive. His recommendations were always spot on and it felt like it was a special treat when he opened up a new release to play in store under the pretense of needing a preview copy when I couldn’t decide on a purchase! I will never forget him!

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