Benjamin Chase "Ben" Harper (born October 28, 1969) is an American Musician.
Harper was born in Claremont, California, in California's Pomona Valley. He began playing Guitar as a child in Claremont. His maternal grandparents' music store The Folk Music Center and Museum laid a foundation of folk and blues for the artist, complimented by regular patrons of Leonard Cohen, Taj Mahal and David Lindley and quotes of William Shakespeare and Robert Frost made often by his grandfather. . As a teen in the 80's, Harper began to play the slide guitar, mimicing the style of Robert Johnson, to contrast that of the then popular Heavy metal music. The artist changed over to the Weissenborn to provide futher distinction in his style from Johnson and other blues musicians. Harper broke out of the "Inland Empire" after being offered an invitation by Taj Mahal to tour with the artist. The 20 year-old Harper and the blues legend then recorded Follow the Drinkin' Gourd and toured the fiftieth state. .
As a young man, Harper recorded the LP Pleasure and Pain with fellow folk guitarist Tom Freund. After this limited edition record, Harper got a record deal with Virgin Records, who released his debut album, Welcome to the Cruel World (1994).
This was followed by Fight For Your Mind (1995) which became a College radio favorite and generated an abundance of songs which still fill his set list to this day.
In 1999 at the Santa Barbara Bowl, Harper met Jack Johnson (musician), who was unknown at the time and had not recorded. Harper obtained a demo tape of 12 of Johnson's songs that he forwarded to his producer, J.P. Plunier, with whom Johnson recorded his first album.
From early on in Harper's career, his music received more attention in Europe than it did in his home country. While he was a well-known and respected figure in the American, he was a star in countries like 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, and his tour that year for Diamonds on the Inside played to packed arenas across the continent.
In October 2004, Harper participated in the Vote for Change concert tour organised to benefit Moveon.org and encourage people in the Swing states to vote during the 2004 U.S. presidential election. Also in October, 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.
Over the summer of 2005, when the Zooma tour scheduled with Trey Anastasio and various side stage performers was canceled, Harper engaged in a tour of more private clubs/venues such as the Avalon Ballroom in Boston, the Tabernacle in Atlanta, and a full-band acoustic performance at the historic Ryman Auditorium in Nashville. This series of concerts saw the debut of a number of new songs, such as "Get It Like You Like It" and "Dressed In Black."
In 2006, Harper released the double album Both Sides of the Gun which debuted at #7 on the Billboard charts.
Harper has just finished his worldwide tour, with support from Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley on the North American leg.
Though uncredited, he appears briefly in the 2006 David Lynch film Inland Empire (film), alongside his wife Laura Dern.
Harper recorded a new album, Lifeline (Ben Harper album), in Paris. It was released in 2007 and he has also covered John Lennon's "Beautiful Boy" on the benefit CD Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur.
He has become a big success in Brazil and Portugal, because of his collaboration "Boa Sorte/Good Luck" with Brazil singer Vanessa da Mata, which peaked at #1 in the Brazilian top 100.
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".
Ben Harper's father, Leonard, was African-American and his mother was of Jewish descent. His parents Divorced when he was a child.
Harper has two brothers, Joel and Peter Harper.
On December 23, 2005 Harper married his girlfriend of five years, actress Laura Dern. They have two children together, son Ellery Walker and daughter Jaya. The Rev. Paul B. Raushenbush baptized his children. Harper also has two children from a previous marriage, son Charles and daughter Harris.
Awards and nominationsRectify
|2003||Rolling Stone (magazine) (France)||Artist of the Year|
|2005||Grammy Award||Grammy Award|
|2005||Grammy Award||Grammy Award|
|1995||Fight For Your Mind||Certification|
|1999||Burn to Shine (album)||Certification|
|2001||Live From Mars||Certification|
|Welcome to the Cruel World
|Fight For Your Mind
|The Will to Live
|Burn to Shine (album)
|Live From Mars
|Diamonds on the Inside
|There Will Be a Light
|Live at the Apollo (Ben Harper and The Blind Boys of Alabama)
|Both Sides of the Gun
|Lifeline (Ben Harper album)
|Live At Twist & Shout
- ITunes Originals - Ben Harper
- "Ground on Down" (1995)
- "Faded" (1997)
- "Jah Work" (1997)
- "Glory & Consequence" (1997)
- "Burn to Shine" (1999)
- "Please Bleed" (1999)
- "Steal My Kisses" (2000)
- "With My Own Two Hands" (2003)
- "Diamonds on the Inside" (2004)
- "Better Way" (2006)
- "Morning Yearning" (2006)
- "Fight Outta You" (2007)
- "Boa Sorte/Good Luck" (2007) (with Vanessa da Mata) (#1 Brazil, #1 Portugal)
- "In the Colors" (2007)
- "Fight Outta You" (2007) (Europe)
Recent concerts Rectify
Voodoo Music Experience (October 26–28, 2007)
Lollapalooza Music Festival (August 3–5, 2007) - Harper and The Innocent Criminals performed as a co-headliner on August 3, at the Bud Light stage. Eddie Vedder joined them on-stage for a cover of Bob Dylan's "Masters of War". Other songs in the set included "Burn One Down" and "With My Own Two Hands". Harper also performed an unannounced acoustic set at the Kidapalooza stage and would later join Pearl Jam for a performance of an original protest song, "No More", penned by Vedder, and Neil Young's "Rockin' in the Free World".
Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival (June 14–17, 2007) - Harper and The Innocent Criminals played on the main stage at the biggest music festival in the United States. Harper played on the same stage as Ziggy Marley, whose set ended an hour before he came on. A guest appearance was made by John Paul Jones (musician) (from Led Zeppelin) to perform "Dazed and Confused (song)" alongside Harper. Ziggy Marley also made an appearance to join Harper in singing Bob Marley's "Get Up, Stand Up". Other songs from the set included "Burn One Down," "Steal My Kisses," "Diamonds On The Inside," "Ground On Down," and "With My Own Two Hands" and "Gold To Me." Selections from this performance are featured on the program Live from the Artists Den. The episode will air March 6, 2008 at 8 PM ET/PT on Ovation TV.
Byron Bay Blues and Roots Festival Easter 2007 - Harper and the Innocent Criminals played a two hour spot to close the Annual Bluesfest. The huge crowd in and around the massive tent were treated to an awesome set featuring songs from old and new albums as well as some covers. Bonnie Raitt, John Butler, Piers Faccini and Jack Johnson made guest appearances throughout the set to perform songs with Harper and the band.
Brisbane River Stage (May 20, 2006) - Harper recently completed his final leg of the ARIA Weekly Top 100n tour for Both Sides Of The Gun. The concert sold out and received rave reviews. The crowd of 20,000 were treated by an appearance from Jack Johnson to perform, with Harper, a cover of Bob Marley's "High Tide or Low Tide".
In July 2006 Harper supported the Red Hot Chili Peppers on their Stadium Arcadium tour, playing dates at venues including the Madejski Stadium in Reading and Pride Park stadium, home of Derby County Football Club, Derby. He then commenced upon a Stateside tour, along with supporting artist Damian Marley. He subsequently toured Europe, including France, the nation that was one of the first to embrace his earliest musical offerings.
Greek Theatre, Berkeley, California - On August 18, 2006, Harper played for a sold-out crowd. During the height of the show, Harper brought out Carlos Santana and did a guitar solo of "Serve Your Soul". Santana stayed on stage for two more songs.
Austin City Limits Music Festival (September 15–17, 2006) - On September 17, 2006, Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals played in front of an estimated 70,000 in Austin, Texas at the music festival in a late afternoon show following Damian Marley's performance on the same stage an hour earlier. Harper opened his show with a rendition of Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)", a nod to Stevie Ray Vaughan's adopted hometown and a favorite local song, and Neil Young's "Heart of Gold" in a set list that also included "Burn One Down", "Steal My Kisses", "Diamonds On The Inside", and "Better Way". G. Love made a special guest appearance playing the Harmonica, and the set concluded with Damian Marley and Harper playing Bob Marley's "Get Up, Stand Up".
Live at the Garden (July 8, 2003). He sang two songs ("Daughter" and "Indifference") with Pearl Jam.
Harper played a Slide guitar version of the Star-Spangled Banner prior to Game 3 of the 2007 on June 12 in Cleveland.
- Pleasure and Pain (2002)
- Live at the Hollywood Bowl (2003)
- Live at the Apollo (2005)
- Download sample of a live performance of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song"
- Official website
- Official Myspace
- Official French website
- Ben Harper Producer Profile on The 1 Second Film website
- Video: "11th Commandment" and "Well Well Well"
- Video: "Paris Sunrise #7" and "Lifeline"
- swer.net (a comprehensive fan site)
- benharperfrance.com - Forum (French fan forum)
- benharper.fr - news, videos, photos... (French fan site)
- Ben Harper Live Blog rss news
- Ben Harper preview his next album Lifeline (live and acoustic)
- Ben Harper French Forum
- Exclusive Interview
- Ben Harper Interview on Stereo Warning