Benjamin Chase “Ben” Harper (born 28 October 1969 in Claremont, California) is a guitarist , songwriter and singer, American, accompanied by various bands back ( The Innocent Criminals , The Blind Boys of Alabama , Relentless Seven ) with whom he practice a music mixing influences folk , blues , gospel , rock , funk and reggae . Since 2008 , Ben Harper has embarked on a new musical project to a more rock in the group Relentless7 .
Ben Harper began playing guitar during his childhood in California and especially the acoustic guitar (Weissenborn called, named after the German instrument maker who manufactured the first in the early 20th century). In 1992 , accompanied by a guitarist friend, Tom Freund , he recorded his first LP ( Pleasure and Pain ). This disc draws the attention of producers, which led him to sign a contract with Virgin Records to release his first album Welcome to the Cruel World , which received very favorably.
He goes into 1995 with the album Fight for Your Mind more mature and politically engaged. The general public really finds out in 1997 after the release of his third album The Will to Live . It is also the revelation of the group that accompanies it: The Innocent Criminals , consisting of Juan Nelson on bass, Leon Mobley on percussion and Oliver Charles on drums while Ben Harper provides singing and guitar.
During the following years, Ben Harper and The Innocent Criminals commit a world tour and numerous collaborations including with REM , Pearl Jam , Radiohead and John Lee Hooker . Parallel to this, members of the group change with the arrival of Dean Butterworth on drums and David Leach on percussion. 1999 saw the release of Burn to Shine , whose titles Steal My Kisses and Suzie Blue are very successful. Shortly after, the live album Live from Mars recorded during the tour with the band Dave Matthews Band receives a very good review.
In 1999 at the Santa Barbara Bowl, Harper met Jack Johnson, Ben. The latter is still unknown to the general public, but Ben Harper gets him a demo of 12 songs and send it to his producer, JP Plunier, with whom Jack Johnson finally recorded his first album.
Diamonds on the Inside , released in 2003 , brings a musical diversity since Ben Harper came to the reggae and funk , with the collaboration on two tracks of Al Anderson and Ladysmith Black Mambazo . This disc also marks the return of the training recorded Fight for your Mind since Charles Oliver and Leon Mobley reintroduce the group and neither Dean Butterworth or David Leach are present on this album. This is the first album produced by Ben Harper as the first four have been the friend of Ben, JP Plunier . Strangely, while the Innocent Criminals recorded an album with Ben Harper for the fourth time, they do not appear in the name of the album where only the name of Ben Harper face, then they were for the previous album Burn to Shine . The release of this album is followed by a world tour, during which the Innocent Criminals are enriched for the first time an keyboardist Jason Yates , and a second guitarist, Marc Ford (former member of the Black Crowes ) which succeeds Nicki P., who had appeared briefly on stage with the band during concerts that preceded the tour.
More recently, Ben Harper has worked with The Blind Boys of Alabama out There Will Be a Light album very much oriented towards the gospel . This album was released while the Blind Boys have already appeared several times in the past on stage with Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals to revisit some of their songs in a more gospel. Originally, the project was a collaboration of Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals on some songs from the upcoming album Blind Boys of Alabama. But with the mood that emerges from this collaboration, they decided to record a full album under the name of Ben Harper. Once again this album is recorded with the Innocent Criminals, but enriched for the occasion by the Blind Boys of Alabama, who sing harmonies.
The beginning of the tour following the release of There Will Be a Light is provided by Marc Ford as second guitarist, while Michael Ward (who recorded on some tracks with the band on There Will Be a Light) ensures the second part this tour, including the 2005 Summer tour.
Ben Harper has produced three DVDs: The first is a documentary called Pleasure and Pain of the same name as his first album with Tom Freund . This documentary shows what a tour with Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals and the roots and part of the philosophy of Ben Harper. The second is a live DVD, Live at the Hollywood Bowl, the first live DVD of the group, made during the tour Diamonds on the Inside . The third DVD and also live album, Live at the Apollo , is registered with the stage presence of the Blind Boys of Alabama (in addition to the Innocent Criminals). at the Apollo Theater in Harlem in October 2005.
The family of Ben Harper is also a music store in the town of Ben Harper, Claremont, California. The Folk Music Center is also a museum of very famous musical instrument, and contains instruments and global origins of string instruments. This store was created by the maternal grandparents of Ben Harper, Charles and Dorothy Chase, and is currently led by his mother Ellen Chase-Verdries. A scene from the DVD Pleasure and Pain takes place inside this store.
Ben Harper were married 23 December 2005 with actress Laura Dern . He had two children with his wife, Ellery Walker, born August 21, 2001 and Jaya, born November 28, 2004.
Immediately after the nine-month tour devoted to Both Sides of the Gun , Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals were sent to a Paris studio, Studio Gang, to save Lifeline , in seven days on a magneto sixteen tracks analog .
In late 2008, he announced his separation with his band the Innocent Criminals, to form a new group, Relentless7 , style over rock . The first album, White Lies for Dark Times , appeared on 27 April 2009 , France.
On April 4, 2009, he participated in benefit concert called “Change Begins Within” (The change starts from within). It is organized to benefit the David Lynch Foundation to promote the teaching of Transcendental Meditation to a million children in need . He plays alongside Sheryl Crow in concert which was also attended by Paul McCartney , Ringo Starr , Moby , Eddie Vedder , Donovan and Mike Love .
In February 2010, he formed a band with Dhani Harrison , son of George Harrison , and Joseph Arthur , called “Fistful Of Mercy”. Jessy Greene participated in the recording of the album on fiddle and Jim Keltner on drums. The album was released October 5, 2010.
The style of Ben Harper is very much linked to his guitar playing. The latter is based on the sounds of guitars branded Weissenborn and other Lap-steel and slide technique. Guitar lying flat on the lap of the guitarist, cord upward, and it is no longer the fingers are pressing on the strings, but a metal bar called the slide bar . Played this way, the guitar becomes a characteristic sound, the rating changes effected by slip or slide, the changes are more subtle than in the case of a standard technique. A similar sound can be achieved with the game bottleneck that Ben Harper also practical. This slide technique, inherited from bluesmen of the Delta Mississippi (and echoed by other white musicians like Ry Cooder ) combined with a very special voice lays the foundations of “style Ben Harper.”
The first album by Ben Harper are therefore based largely on acoustic recordings but Weissborn are sometimes electrified as on Ground On Down.
- 1992 : Pleasure and Pain
- 1994 : Welcome to the Cruel World
- 1995 : Fight for your Mind
- 1997 : The Will to Live
- 1999 : Burn to Shine
- 2001 : Live From Mars (live)
- 2003 : Diamonds on the Inside
- 2004 : There Will Be a Light (with Blind Boys of Alabama )
- 2005 : Live at the Apollo (with the Blind Boys of Alabama )
- 2006 : Both Sides of the Gun
- 2007 : Lifeline (with the Innocent Criminals )
- 2009 : White Lies for Dark Times (with Relentless7 )
- 2010 : Live from the Montreal International Jazz Festival (with Relentless 7 )