BEN HARPER Biography - Musicians


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Name: Ben Harper                                                                     
Birth name: Benjamin Chase Harper                                                     
Born: 28 October 1969 Claremont, California,                                         
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 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 Drinking Ghourd 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, 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.                                                             
Ben Harper, Massey Hall, Toronto, ON                                                 
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 United States, 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'AnnĂ©e) 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 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       
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,     
alongside his wife Laura Dern.                                                       
Harper recorded a new album in Paris, Lifeline. 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, because of his collaboration "Boa Sorte/Good   
Luck" with Brazilian 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".