Ben is recognised as one of the UK's top boogie woogie players and has curated the upcoming London International Festival of Boogie Woogie taking place at Cadogan Hall on September 14. It will feature performances from himself and five of his favourite pianists from around the world.
Charlie, 77, performs with Ben in his side project band the ABC&D of Boogie Woogie along with fellow pianist Axel Zwingenberger and Charlie's oldest friend and favourite double bassist Dave Green.
The mid-air incident occurred when the group were on tour and Ben was allowed to try out his flying skills in the cockpit as they travelled from Monaco to Austria.
Although Ben was very proud that he managed to land the aircraft safely, when he walked back to the cabin Charlie and the other passengers were frozen in fear!
Speaking exclusively to BANG Showbiz, Ben said: ''I was playing in the ABC&D band a few years ago and we played in Monaco, it was amazing down there, Ringo Starr arrived and we had a great time. We had a concert following in Austria and they sent a private jet for us - I'd never been on a private jet before, actually, it was a great experience! We took off from Nice airport and I got speaking to the pilots who asked me if I was interested in flying. As it happened I was having flying lessons at the time so they offered me the chance to have a go. Of course I jumped at it. It was a £30 million jet and one of the fastest private jets in the world, just under mach 1 ... So they let me fly it around and it was really smooth. It had a countdown to the local airport, and there was about 15 minutes left until we landed. I said, 'I better get out and let your co-pilot land it with you.' And the pilot went, 'I think you should land it.'
''So we're coming to the airport and the pilot was telling me, 'You've got to get the air speed down, you've got to put the air brake on.' Then he tells me that I'm going off course ... So I'm wobbling all over the place because I don't know the plane. Then he says, 'You've got four red lights on the runway you need to put a bit more power on.' So I'm coming in up and down and going left and right but the pilot was talking me through it all the time and eventually I landed the plane. It was like winning the lottery. I'd just landed a £30 million plane. I wanted to shout it from the rooftops! I ran to the back of the plane and yelled, 'I just landed the plane!' And there was Charlie and the others looking completely drained, shaken up and chalk white and they go, 'We know!' ''
Ben hopes he can keep performing and recording for as long as his favourite drummer Charlie Watts has as he has nothing but admiration for the sticksman and the rest of The Stones.
He said: ''I fell in love with their music because of Ian Stewart, my favourite blues pianist (a founder member of the Rolling Stones). As far as I am concerned Ian was an integral part of their sound, it's why I started playing piano in the first place.
''Charlie is a massive music fan. People ask why do The Rolling Stones keep doing it and will they ever retire, but they do it because they absolutely love it and are amazingly good at it. They get excited about old records, new records ... I believe they learnt with the whole band playing along to Muddy Waters' records, which explains a lot about why they are so good. It's something you can't learn in music college - which is great news for me as I can't read a note!''
Tickets for the London International Festival of Boogie Woogie on September 14 at Cadogan Hall are on sale from Cadoganhall.com.
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