Ben Harper

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Ben Harper
Ben Harper 003.jpg
Background information
Birth nameBenjamin Chase Harper
Born(1969-10-28) 28 October 1969 (age 44)
Pomona, California
United States
GenresFolk rock, blues rock, alternative rock, soul, funk rock, gospel, reggae, jam rock, neofolk
OccupationsMusician, humanitarian
InstrumentsVocals, guitar, lap steel guitar, slide guitar, keyboard instruments, piano, bass, drums, percussion, vibes
Years active1992–present
LabelsVirgin, EMI Records
Associated actsBen Harper and The Blind Boys of Alabama
Relentless7
Vanessa da Mata
Fistful of Mercy
Natalie Maines
Charlie Musselwhite
WebsiteOfficial web site
Notable instruments
Weissenborn lap steel guitar
 
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Ben Harper
Ben Harper 003.jpg
Background information
Birth nameBenjamin Chase Harper
Born(1969-10-28) 28 October 1969 (age 44)
Pomona, California
United States
GenresFolk rock, blues rock, alternative rock, soul, funk rock, gospel, reggae, jam rock, neofolk
OccupationsMusician, humanitarian
InstrumentsVocals, guitar, lap steel guitar, slide guitar, keyboard instruments, piano, bass, drums, percussion, vibes
Years active1992–present
LabelsVirgin, EMI Records
Associated actsBen Harper and The Blind Boys of Alabama
Relentless7
Vanessa da Mata
Fistful of Mercy
Natalie Maines
Charlie Musselwhite
WebsiteOfficial web site
Notable instruments
Weissenborn lap steel guitar

Benjamin Chase "Ben" Harper (born 28 October 1969) is an American singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. Harper plays an eclectic mix of blues, folk, soul, reggae and rock music[1] and is known for his guitar-playing skills, vocals, live performances and activism.[2] Harper's fan base spans several continents.[3] His albums have been commercially successful in North America, Europe and Oceania. Harper is a three-time Grammy Award winner as well, winning awards for Best Pop Instrumental Performance and Best Traditional Soul Gospel Album, in 2005. He also won a Grammy for Best Blues Album in 2014.

Early life[edit]

Harper was born in Pomona, California.[4] His father, Leonard, was of African-American and Cherokee ancestry, and his mother, Ellen Chase-Verdries, is Jewish. His maternal great-grandmother was a Russian-Lithuanian Jew.[5][6][7] His parents divorced when he was age five, and he grew up with his mother's family. Harper has two brothers, Joel and Peter.[8]

Harper began playing guitar as a child.[9][10] His maternal grandparents' music store The Folk Music Center and Museum laid a foundation of folk and blues for the artist, complemented by regular patrons Leonard Cohen, Taj Mahal, John Darnielle, and David Lindley and quotes of William Shakespeare and Robert Frost made often by his grandfather.[11]

In 1978, at the age of 9, Harper attended reggae superstar Bob Marley's performance in Burbank, California (joined by former bandmate Peter Tosh in the encore, thus making it a sort of historical performance), which was according to Harper an important influence.[12] At the age of 12, Harper played his first gig.[13] During the '80s, in his teen years, Harper began to play the slide guitar, mimicking the style of Robert Johnson. Harper refined his style, taking up the Weissenborn slide guitar.[14] Harper broke out of the Inland Empire after being offered an invitation by Taj Mahal to tour with the artist. They recorded Taj Mahal's album Follow the Drinking Gourd, released in November 1990, and toured Hawaii.[15]

Career[edit]

Harper on stage in 2003

In 1992, Harper recorded the LP Pleasure and Pain with Folk multi-instrumentalist Tom Freund. After this limited edition record, Harper secured a lifetime record deal with Virgin Records,[16] which released his debut album, Welcome to the Cruel World in 1994. This allowed him to be invited at the Rencontres Trans Musicales of Rennes in France in December 1993 where he went up for the first time on a large stage. The first album was followed by Fight For Your Mind in 1995, with Juan Nelson on bass, which became a college radio favorite and included several songs that Harper still plays live regularly.[17]

In 1999, at the Santa Barbara Bowl, Harper met Jack Johnson and sent a demo tape of Johnson's songs to his producer, J.P. Plunier, who then produced Johnson's his first album.[18]

Harper playing the weissenborn in Massey Hall, Toronto, Ontario.

Early in Harper's career, his music received more attention in Europe and was widely played in Australia (first on Triple J radio). Harper has made comments on a number of occasions that his career was kicked off in Australia. While he was a well-known and respected figure in the United States, he was a star in countries like Australia, New Zealand, France, Portugal, Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands, receiving a great deal of airplay and critical acclaim. His popularity in Europe is such that he was French Rolling Stone magazine's Artist of the Year (Artiste De L'Année) in 2003,[19] and his Australian tour that year for Diamonds on the Inside was highly successful.

In 2002, Harper was one of the featured singers covering Motown hits by Marvin Gaye in the documentary, Standing in the Shadows of Motown (a history of The Funk Brothers). In October 2004, Harper participated in the Vote for Change concert tour organized to benefit Moveon.org and encourage people in the swing states to vote during the 2004 U.S. presidential election. In the same month, Harper contributed a live recording of the song "Oppression" to For The Lady, a benefit album for jailed Nobel Peace Prize winner and Burmese pro-democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi. In 2006, Harper released the double album Both Sides of the Gun which debuted at #7 on the Billboard charts. Though uncredited, he appears briefly in the 2006 David Lynch film Inland Empire, alongside his wife Laura Dern.

Harper is part of the No Nukes group which is against the expansion of nuclear power. In 2007 the group recorded a music video of a new version of the Buffalo Springfield song "For What It's Worth".[20][21] Harper's collaboration "Boa Sorte/Good Luck" with Brazilian singer Vanessa da Mata peaked at #1 in Brazil and Portugal. In Brazil it also won a highly coveted Prêmio Multishow for "Best Song" in 2008. Also in 2008, Harper participated in the benefit album Songs for Tibet.

On 27 August 2010, it was reported that Ben Harper had formed a band called Fistful of Mercy with Dhani Harrison and Joseph Arthur.[22] Fistful of Mercy released their debut record, As I Call You Down, on 5 October 2010.[23]

On 17 May 2011, Ben Harper's official site posted that his next album was released, entitled Give Till It's Gone. The album is a continuation of recording with Relentless7.[24]

On 1 October 2012, a new album from Ben Harper with Charlie Musselwhite was announced entitled Get Up! on Stax Records / Concord Music Group. The official release date for the album is January 29, 2013. Get Up! was recorded in Los Angeles and produced by Ben Harper. It is Ben's 12th studio album and first new recording since 2011's Give Till It's Gone (Virgin).[25]

In December 2012, it was announced that Ben Harper had co-produced lead vocalist Natalie Maines of the Dixie Chicks first solo rock album Mother.[26] It was released on May 7, 2013.[27]

Personal life[edit]

Harper with his second wife Laura Dern in December 2009

In 1996, Harper married his first wife, Joanna.[28] They have two children together, son Charles (born circa 1997) and daughter Harris (born circa 2000).[28] Harper and Joanna separated in 2000, and were divorced in 2001.[28]

Harper began dating actress Laura Dern after they met at one of his concerts in fall 2000.[28] Harper and Dern married on December 23, 2005 at their home in Los Angeles.[29] They have two children,[4] son Ellery Walker (born August 2001)[28] and daughter Jaya (born November 2004).[30] In October 2010, Harper filed for divorce from Dern, citing irreconcilable differences.[31] They briefly reconciled and attended the 2012 Golden Globe Awards together,[31] but Dern reactivated the divorce by filing a legal response in July 2012.[31] The divorce was finalized in September 2013.[32]

Philanthropy[edit]

Harper supports Little Kids Rock, a national nonprofit organization that works to restore and revitalize music education in disadvantaged U.S. public schools. In 2013, he donated items to their San Francisco Bay Area benefit concert.

Awards and nominations[edit]

YearAward ShowAward/Nomination
2003Rolling Stone (France)Artist of the Year
2005Grammy AwardGrammy Award for Best Pop Instrumental Performance
2005Grammy AwardGrammy Award for Best Traditional Soul Gospel Album
2014Grammy AwardGrammy Award for Best Blues Album

Discography[edit]

Studio albums[edit]

TitleAlbum detailsPeak chart positionsCertifications
US
[33]
AUS
[34]
SWI
[35]
FRA
[36]
NZ
[37]
ITA
[38]
POR
[39]
Welcome to the Cruel World9411
Fight for Your Mind
  • Album by Ben Harper
  • Released: 1995
  • Label: Virgin Records
34397
The Will to Live
  • Album by Ben Harper
  • Released: 17 June 1997
  • Label: Virgin Records
891741
Burn to Shine
  • Album by Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals
  • Released: 21 September 1999
  • Label: Virgin Records
6723425
Diamonds on the Inside
  • Album by Ben Harper
  • Released: 11 March 2003
  • Label: Virgin Records
192322110
There Will Be a Light81631717
Both Sides of the Gun
  • Album by Ben Harper
  • 21 March 2006
  • Label: Virgin Records
7142113
Lifeline
  • Album by Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals
  • Released: 28 August 2007
  • Label: Virgin Records
9711615
White Lies for Dark Times
  • Album by Ben Harper and Relentless7
  • Released: 5 May 2009
  • Label: Virgin Records
9177611723
Give Till It's Gone
  • Album by Ben Harper
  • Released: 17 May 2011
  • Label: Virgin Records
15963132[66]25
Get Up!
  • Album by Ben Harper with Charlie Musselwhite
  • Released: 29 January 2013
  • Label: Stax Records / Concord Music Group
2713
Childhood Home
  • Album by Ben & Ellen Harper
  • Released: 6 May 2014
  • Label: Prestige Folklore

Live albums[edit]

TitleAlbum detailsPeak chart positionsCertifications
US
[33]
AUS
[34]
SWI
[35]
FRA
[36]
NZ
[37]
ITA
[38]
POR
[39]
Live from Mars
  • Album by Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals
  • Released: 2001
  • Label: Virgin Records
702293312
Live at the Apollo
  • Album by Ben Harper and The Blind Boys of Alabama
  • Released: 14 March 2005
  • Label: Virgin Records
9639
Live at Twist & Shout
  • Album by Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals
  • Released: 4 December 2007
  • Label: Virgin Records
Live from the Montreal International Jazz Festival
  • Album by Ben Harper and Relentless7
  • Released: 9 March 2010
  • Label: Virgin Records
1515719
Live from the Granada Theater: Dallas, Texas September 10, 2013
  • Album by Ben Harper with Charlie Musselwhite
  • Released: 31 December 2013
  • Label: www.benharper.com

Other albums[edit]

TitleAlbum detailsPeak chart positions
US
[70]
FRA
[71]
Pleasure and Pain
  • Album by Ben Harper and Tom Freund
  • Released: 15 March 1992
  • Label: Cardas Records
As I Call You Down50154
By My Side

Virtual albums[edit]

Singles[edit]

Special appearances[edit]

Ben Harper appeared on John Mayer's The Village Sessions EP for the song Waiting on the World to Change. The album was released on December 12, 2006.[74]

Harper played a slide guitar version of the "Star-Spangled Banner" prior to Game 3 of the 2007 NBA Finals on 12 June in Cleveland. Harper performed alongside Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson and John Paul Jones at the Bonnaroo Music Festival in 2007. He also appears on the 2003 Pearl Jam DVD Live at the Garden where Harper plays alongside friends Pearl Jam for the songs "Daughter" & "Indifference".

Harper performed at several "Vote Obama" rallies and on the Willie Nelson show Outlaws & Angels. Harper teamed with the Skatalites to perform Fats Domino's "Be My Guest" on Goin' Home: A Tribute to Fats Domino. Harper was featured, alongside Jack Johnson, playing slide guitar with Toots and the Maytals, performing their 1970s reggae hit "Pressure Drop" on Saturday Night Live.

In January 2010, Harper and his band Relentless7 performed at the Grammy Museum with Ringo Starr in support of The Beatles drummer's self-produced album, Y Not.[75] In early 2010, Harper also performed "Ohio" at the MusiCares tribute to Neil Young.[76]

In July 2011, Harper performed as the headline musician at the Saturday in the Park music festival in Sioux City, IA.[77]

In April 2013, Harper and Charlie Musselwhite were invited to perform in front of President Barack Obama and the First Lady as part of the "In Performance at the White House" series which honoured "Memphis Soul." They performed the track "I'm In, I'm Out and I'm Gone" from the album "Get Up!"

Filmography[edit]

DVDs[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ben Harper Explores Rock With Relentless7
  2. ^ Interview regarding touring and activisim.
  3. ^ Celebrity Gossip Bio
  4. ^ a b "Ben Harper". Rolling Stone magazine article. Jann Wenner. 2012. Retrieved 2 November 2012. 
  5. ^ Ben Harper | Roots | Part one
  6. ^ Ben Harper - Every Facet Of The Diamond
  7. ^ Hodgkinson, Will (14 February 2003). "Blood in the tracks". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 26 April 2010. 
  8. ^ "Ben Harper Biography". Lyrics Freak. Retrieved 12 July 2013. 
  9. ^ "Ben Harper | Roots | Part one". Swer.net. Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  10. ^ "Celebrity Jews | j. the Jewish news weekly of Northern California". Jewishsf.com. 11 February 2005. Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  11. ^ Appleford, Steve. "I'll Rise: The Music and Message of Ben Harper" Page 5. Essay published in the Ben Harper CD Box Collection. Released 4 April 2000.
  12. ^ BobMarley.com | Ben Harper Discusses Bob Marley
  13. ^ Ben Harper Ask Men Interview
  14. ^ ibid, page 11
  15. ^ ibid, page 13
  16. ^ Randy Bachman, VinylTap, CBC Radio, 7 July 2012
  17. ^ Ben Harper Billboard Biography
  18. ^ Harper takes both sides - The Honolulu Advertiser - Hawaii's Newspaper
  19. ^ Ben Harper Biography
  20. ^ "For What It's Worth," No Nukes Reunite After Thirty Years
  21. ^ Musicians Act to Stop New Atomic Reactors
  22. ^ "George Harrison's son, Ben Harper form a band". CNN. 27 August 2010. 
  23. ^ "Consequence of Sound". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  24. ^ "Give Till It's Gone | The Official Ben Harper Website". Benharper.com. 17 May 2011. Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  25. ^ "Get Up! | The Official Ben Harper Website". Benharper.com. 1 October 2012. Retrieved 1 October 2012. 
  26. ^ "The Official Natalie Maines Music Site". Retrieved 12 July 2013. 
  27. ^ "Tweet by @1NatalieMaines". Twitter. 19 December 2012. Retrieved 21 December 2012. "Good news! I made some calls and had them push the end of the world to sometime after the release of my album, #Mother 5/7/13. You're welcome." 
  28. ^ a b c d e Miller, Samantha (February 4, 2002). "Dern Happy". People. Retrieved September 21, 2013. 
  29. ^ "Actress Laura Dern Marries Ben Harper". People. December 23, 2005. Retrieved September 21, 2013. 
  30. ^ "Laura Dern gives birth to a daughter". Today. November 2004. Retrieved September 21, 2013. 
  31. ^ a b c Johnson, Zach (July 9, 2012). "Laura Dern Reactivates Dormant Divorce From Ben Harper". Us Weekly. Retrieved September 21, 2013. 
  32. ^ "Laura Dern, Ben Harper Divorce Is Finalized". Huffington Post. September 11, 2013. Retrieved September 11, 2013. 
  33. ^ a b "Ben Harper - Chart History". Billboard. Archived from the original on 12 May 2011. Retrieved 13 May 2011. 
  34. ^ a b "Ben Harper Discography". australian-charts.com. Retrieved 13 May 2011. 
  35. ^ a b "Suche nach: Ben Harper" (in German). HitParade.ch. Retrieved 13 May 2011. 
  36. ^ a b "Discographie Ben Harper" (in French). lescharts.com. Retrieved 13 May 2011. 
  37. ^ a b "Ben Harper Discography". charts.org.nz. Retrieved 13 May 2011. 
  38. ^ a b "Search for: ben harper". italiancharts.com. Retrieved 13 May 2011. 
  39. ^ a b "Ben Harper Discography". portuguesecharts.com. Retrieved 14 May 2011. 
  40. ^ a b "ARIA Charts - Accreditations - 1999 Albums". ARIA Charts. Archived from the original on 11 June 2011. Retrieved 14 May 2011. 
  41. ^ "Gold & Platinum Certification – June 2001". Canadian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 14 May 2011. 
  42. ^ "Certifications Albums Platine - année 2000" (in French). SNEP. Retrieved 14 May 2011. 
  43. ^ "Gold & Platinum Certification – April 2007". Canadian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 14 May 2011. 
  44. ^ "Certifications Albums Or - année 1996" (in French). SNEP. Retrieved 14 May 2011. 
  45. ^ "Certifications Albums Platine - année 1999" (in French). SNEP. Retrieved 14 May 2011. 
  46. ^ "ARIA Charts - Accreditations - 2000 Albums". ARIA Charts. Archived from the original on 11 June 2011. Retrieved 14 May 2011. 
  47. ^ "Certifications Albums Platine - année 2002" (in French). SNEP. Retrieved 14 May 2011. 
  48. ^ "Top 50 albums - Chart #1226 - Sunday 10 September 2000". RIANZ. Retrieved 14 May 2011. 
  49. ^ a b "ARIA Charts - Accreditations - 2003 Albums". ARIA Charts. Archived from the original on 15 May 2011. Retrieved 14 May 2011. 
  50. ^ "Gold & Platinum Certification – June 2003". Canadian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 14 May 2011. 
  51. ^ "Certifications Albums Platine - année 2004" (in French). SNEP. Retrieved 6 May 2011. 
  52. ^ Giuseppe Palazzolo (3 June 2003). "Parco Nord, fermata grande rock" (in Italian). la Repubblica (Bologna). Retrieved 6 May 2011. 
  53. ^ "Top 30 Artistas - Semana 15 de 2003" (in Portuguese). Associação Fonográfica Portuguesa. Retrieved 6 August 2011. 
  54. ^ a b "Edelmetall 2003" (in German). HitParade.ch. Retrieved 13 May 2011. 
  55. ^ "Top 50 albums - Sunday 1 February 2004". RIANZ. Retrieved 14 May 2011. 
  56. ^ "ARIA Charts - Accreditations - 2004 Albums". ARIA Charts. Archived from the original on 13 May 2011. Retrieved 13 May 2011. 
  57. ^ "Certifications Albums Double Or - année 2005" (in French). SNEP. Retrieved 14 May 2011. 
  58. ^ "ARIA Charts - Accreditations - 2006 Albums". ARIA Charts. Archived from the original on 15 May 2011. Retrieved 13 May 2011. 
  59. ^ "Gold & Platinum Certification – September 2006". Canadian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 14 May 2011. 
  60. ^ "Certifications Albums Platine - année 2006" (in French). SNEP. Retrieved 14 May 2011. 
  61. ^ "Edelmetall 2006" (in German). HitParade.ch. Retrieved 13 May 2011. 
  62. ^ "Top 50 albums - Chart #1523 - Sunday 31 July 2006". RIANZ. Retrieved 14 May 2011. 
  63. ^ "ARIA Charts - Accreditations - 2007 Albums". ARIA Charts. Archived from the original on 15 May 2011. Retrieved 13 May 2011. 
  64. ^ "Certifications Albums Platine - année 2008" (in French). SNEP. Retrieved 14 May 2011. 
  65. ^ "Certifications Albums Or - année 2009" (in French). SNEP. Retrieved 14 May 2011. 
  66. ^ "Classifica settimanale dal 09/05/2011 al 15/05/2011" (in Italian). FIMI. Retrieved 20 May 2011. 
  67. ^ "Ben Harper. "Give Till It's Gone" certifié disque d'or" (in French). www.rtl2.fr. 21 July 2011. Retrieved 27 July 2011. 
  68. ^ "Certifications Albums Or - année 2001" (in French). SNEP. Retrieved 14 May 2011. 
  69. ^ "Top 50 albums - Chart #1269 - Sunday 22 July 2000". RIANZ. Retrieved 14 May 2011. 
  70. ^ "Fistful of Mercy - Chart History". Billboard. Archived from the original on 12 May 2011. Retrieved 13 May 2011. 
  71. ^ "FISTFUL OF MERCY - AS I CALL YOU DOWN (ALBUM)" (in French). lescharts.com. Retrieved 13 May 2011. 
  72. ^ Roberts, David (2006). British Hit Singles & Albums (19th ed.). London: Guinness World Records Limited. p. 244. ISBN 1-904994-10-5. 
  73. ^ Ben Harper. "Morning Yearning". EMI Music. Youtube. Retrieved 29 March 2011. 
  74. ^ "John Mayer - The Village Sessions". Discogs. 
  75. ^ "Welcome Spin Earth Fans! | Spin Magazine Online". Spinearth.tv. Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  76. ^ "MusiCares Tribute to Neil Young: Dave Matthews, James Taylor, Elton John, Lady Antebellum, Keith Urban, John Fogerty, Booker T. Jones, Norah Jones, Dierks Bentley, Josh Groban, Leon Knoles: Movies & TV". Amazon.com. Retrieved 31 December 2011. 
  77. ^ Johnson, Laura (2011-03-31). "Ben Harper, Cee Lo Green top SITP lineup". Siouxcityjournal.com. Retrieved 2012-10-16. 

External links[edit]