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Ben Harper

Combining funky, groove-laden soul with handcrafted acoustic folk-rock, Ben Harper enjoyed cult status during the course of the '90s before gaining wider attention toward the decade's end. As a young artist, he drew his influences from classic singer/songwriters, blues revivalists, guitar slingers, and jam bands like Blues Traveler and Phish, which meant he was embraced by critics and college kids alike. Despite finding commercial success with the radio single "Steal My Kisses" in 2000, Harper continued to explore different (and often challenging) musical textures during the 21st century, enjoying a solid fan base at home and a considerable amount of fame in Europe, where was named 2003's Artist of the Year by the French branch of Rolling Stone.

A native of California, Harper grew up listening to blues, folk, soul, R&B, and reggae. He started playing guitar as a child and began to perform regularly as a preteen. During his adolescence, he focused heavily on the acoustic slide guitar, which eventually became his signature instrument. Harper scored a deal with Virgin Records in 1992 after maintaining a steady schedule of shows in the L.A. area; two years later, he released his debut album, Welcome to the Cruel World, to positive reviews.

Released in 1995, the politically heavy Fight for Your Mind made for a strong sophomore effort, an obvious growth in musical experimentation and individual declamation. It was also the songwriter's first record to later reach gold status. Harper's third album, 1997's The Will to Live, pushed his blues-oriented alternative folk into the middle mainstream, becoming a mainstay at college radio and making inroads at adult alternative radio. Recorded over two years of touring in support of Fight for Your Mind, The Will to Live also introduced the Innocent Criminals, Harper's longstanding backup band. The Innocent Criminals -- bassist Juan Nelson, drummer Dean Butterworth, and percussionist David Leach -- helped solidify Harper's musical rhythms and emotional diversity over the years to come.

Harper's career gained momentum during 1998 and 1999. One of his most successful albums to date, 1999's Burn to Shine, blended his fondness of '20s jazz compositions with urban beatboxing, resulting in a clever and passionate collection of songs. "Steal My Kisses" and "Suzie Blue" were radio favorites, landing him two headlining world tours and an opening spot on the Dave Matthews Band's annual summer trek in 2000. The following spring, Harper issued Live from Mars, a double-disc of live electric and acoustic material spanning the previous year's tour and including covers of material by Led Zeppelin, the Verve, and Marvin Gaye.

Harper dove into worldbeat on his fifth studio effort, Diamonds on the Inside, which appeared in March 2003. He toured through Europe the following year with the Blind Boys of Alabama, and the two acts entered Capitol Records' basement studios after the tour's commencement to lay down ten tracks together. The resulting collaborative album (issued under the names of both Harper and the Blind Boys of Alabama), There Will Be a Light, was released in September 2004, followed by the concert CD/DVD package Live at the Apollo in 2005.

Eager to release more material, Harper reconvened the Innocent Criminals and issued the double album Both Sides of the Gun in March 2006. The album reached number seven on the Billboard album charts and rose to number one in Australia. While touring in support of the record, Harper and company began playing a new slew of songs during their evening soundchecks, eventually decamping to Paris and recording the new material within one week. This resulted in two records -- Lifeline and Live at Twist and Shout Records -- both of which were issued in 2007. For his 2009 album, White Lies for Dark Times, Harper recorded with the band Relentless7, the members of whom had previously worked with Harper on the track "Serve Your Soul" from Both Sides of the Gun. Harper & the Relentless7 recorded Live from the Montreal International Jazz Festival in July 2009 and released the album early the following year. Afterwards, Harper began working on his first solo album in years, using Jackson Browne's basement as a recording studio and collaborating with Ringo Starr on two tracks. The album's first single, "Rock n' Roll Is Free," was released during the early spring of 2011, followed two months later by the full-length Give Till It's Gone, and in 2012 by the career retrospective By My Side. Harper then moved over to Stax and teamed with blues legend Charlie Musselwhite for 2013's collaboratively released Get Up!

Harper went back to his roots on his next offering. He teamed with his mother, Ellen Harper, a singer, songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist in her own right, and the director of The Folk Music Center and Museum in Claremont, California -- which his grandparents founded -- for the recording Childhood Home. Ellen wrote four tunes on the set while Ben wrote six, and they performed together throughout. The set was issued by Concord in May of 2014. Next, Harper reunited with his band the Innocent Criminals for 2016's Call It What It Is, the group's first studio album since 2007's Lifeline. ~ MacKenzie Wilson
full bio

Selected Discography

x

Track List: By My Side

1. Forever

2. By My Side

3. Gold To Me

4. Diamonds On The Inside

5. In The Colors

6. Beloved One

7. Not Fire Not Ice

8. Morning Yearning

9. Feel Love

10. Happy Everafter In Your Eyes

11. Waiting On An Angel

12. Crazy Amazing

x

Track List: Give Till It's Gone

1. Don't Give Up On Me Now

2. I Will Not Be Broken

3. Rock N' Roll Is Free

4. Feel Love

5. Clearly Severely

6. Spilling Faith

7. Get There From Here

8. Pray That Our Love Sees The Dawn

9. Waiting On A Sign

10. Dirty Little Lover

11. Do It For You, Do It For Us

x

Track List: Lifeline

1. Fight Outta You

2. In The Colors

3. Fool For A Lonesome Train

4. Needed You Tonight

5. Having Wings

6. Say You Will

7. Younger Than Today

8. Put It On Me

9. Heart Of Matters

10. Paris Sunset #7

11. Lifeline

x

Track List: Both Sides Of The Gun

Disc 1

1. Morning Yearning

2. Waiting For You

3. Picture In A Frame

4. Never Leave Lonely Alone

5. Sweet Nothing Serenade

6. Reason To Mourn

7. More Than Sorry

8. Cryin' Won't Help You Now

9. Happy Everafter In Your Eyes

Disc 2

1. Better Way

2. Both Sides Of The Gun

3. Engraved Invitation

4. Black Rain

5. Gather 'round The Stone

6. Please Don't Talk About Murder While I'm Eating

7. Get It Like You Like It

8. The Way You Found Me

9. Serve Your Soul

x

Track List: Diamonds On The Inside

1. With My Own Two Hands

2. When It's Good (Live)

3. Diamonds On The Inside

4. Touch From Your Lust

5. When She Believes

6. Brown Eyed Blues

7. Bring The Funk

8. Everything

9. Amen Omen

10. Temporary Remedy

11. So High So Low

12. Blessed To Be A Witness

13. Picture Of Jesus

14. She's Only Happy In The Sun

x

Track List: The Will To Live

1. Faded

2. Homeless Child

3. Number Three

4. Roses From My Friends

5. Jah Work

6. I Want To Be Ready

7. The Will To Live

8. Ashes

9. Widow Of A Living Man

10. Glory & Consequence

11. Mama's Trippin'

12. I Shall Not Walk Alone

x

Track List: Fight For Your Mind

1. Oppression

2. Ground On Down

3. Another Lonely Day

4. Please Me Like You Want To

5. Gold To Me

6. Burn One Down

7. Excuse Me Mr.

8. People Lead

9. Fight For Your Mind

10. Give A Man A Home

11. By My Side

12. Power of the Gospel

13. God Fearing Man

14. One Road To Freedom

x

Track List: Welcome To The Cruel World

1. The Three Of Us

2. Whipping Boy

3. Breakin' Down

4. Don't Take That Attitude To Your Grave

5. Waiting On An Angel

6. Mama's Got A Girlfriend Now

7. Forever

8. Like A King

9. Pleasure And Pain

10. Walk Away

11. How Many Miles Must We March

12. Welcome To The Cruel World

13. I'll Rise

x

Track List: Jah Work (Single)

1. Jah Work

x

Track List: Keep It Together (So I Can Fall Apart) (Radio Single)

x

Track List: Pink Balloon (Single)

x

Track List: Rock 'N' Roll Is Free (Radio Single)

1. Rock 'N' Roll Is Free

x

Track List: Shimmer And Shine (Radio Single)

Comments

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My wifey walked down the shell covered isle at our beach wedding to your FOREVER. It was perfect cause "not a day less will do" so thanks for perfect vibes .
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skyekerns
No one's commented on you in a long time huh?
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Kiss your hand 10 times say you crushes name post this on 2 other songs then look at your hands
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I don't love the music the only music I do is my own and some of it is on it you know on pandora
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Love!!
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lebacct
Ska,alaalala
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ryanandheath e r 2 8 4 4 2
Burn One Down Yessssss!!!! ! ! ! !
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The new album is a mess. Disappointin g
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If only I could Steal those kisses I'd be happy
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Will I ever see your face again?
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I kind'a agree WRA. Young Cat Stevens? It works.
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tobyjkaye
i have been listening to ben harper for the last 13 years. my man and i have been together for 21 years. we have many of friends who only listen to certain music and when the people who show up and argueing about what to play. i just throw his music on, and the argueing stops and a great story starts, or just good conversation starts. my man just looks over at me when i press play and smiles at me.
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I just started listening to his music and he has a melody in his voice that makes all the bad things in life go away. Very nice!
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Love his voice
SUCH a passionate man!
He KINDA sounds like a Young Cat Stevens!??

0;o))
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Tries to do so many things and goes in so many directions that I forget he's around some time. Beautiful voice though, so it's always nice when he serendipitou s l y comes around.
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I've listened to Ben Harper since I was a little girl, he is a genius with an angelic voice.
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ytown421
And on and on and on "an on"
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To alir--- BLACKMAIL
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Forget it
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Ben Harper is a new discovery for me! His songs have a quality of a very caring & concerned human on this ill planet of ours!!
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Im not to proud.... to beg!!!!
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Happy
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Who ever keeps polluting the comment with that utter crap about posting dribble all over this site...GROW up and get a LIFE!!!!!! Some of us actually interested in other peoples opinions of the music playing. FFS
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Every stage/ audio tech I know of that has ever met Harper say he is a true a**hole.
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bunkenm
Please, don't be silly, I like you , anyway.....
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If he were a meadow, life would be the posies
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I love everything about him and his music. Le Bon Temps Roulé..pleas e come to New Orleans Mardi Gras with me!!
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paulap1968
Only happy in the sun.. The California desert sun
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Amazing song... So honest & pure especially in a world where you realize ppl you once loved just turn out to be total pieces of S**T!!!! Where you truly REGET every second you ever wasted on them!! And being angry thinking you'd never find those intense connection again, then waking up & realizing you found even deeper REAL connections. . . Now I just shake my head and thank God, it is now some other losers problem....
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Just the guitar and Ben... Or whoever is the artist playing just guitar and sings, I'll surely fall��
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Ben is one of the real artist, I have seen him a number of times. He his such a humble man, and it reflect in his music. I always say that I am not a religious man, but if there was someone to turn my faith around, he will be the one. Love your music Ben!
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STEALIN KISSES! great stuff!!!!
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Who hates Ben Harper he's making new stuff to this day best man
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one of my faves.....u look like gold was my wedding song! love him
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maeflower024
Loving this music:)
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Amazing lyricist, voice, and face. I love you Ben
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this is one of the most beautiful pieces of music i have ever heard in my life
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dhohfhfhfhfh f h h r y y r y r y r u r t r f h f g r g r g g r h f h g g r
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bdbdbdhdgdhe h g e g r h r h d h h d h r h r h h h f h r h h f h r h r h
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Nice tune, good lyrics... I really need to pick up more on Ben Harper...
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so good
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Saw Ben with Charlie Musselwhite in Fargo, ND 6/23/14. Over the top, off the hook, best collaboratio n I've ever witnessed. I love ya, Fargo loves ya....please come back soon!
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kemp_candace
Love this!!!
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Shake dem bones!!!!
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let's burn one down! straight to the roach.... then B.T. that too...
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I love you LAINA
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Cool soul rocker, introspectiv e , Doc-Roc
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falch6
Ben is a deep deep deep man. Good stuff!
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Try it first, you'll see its a blessing and not a curse. Need to see in concert, hope everyone starts to think this way. If I'm causing no harm, it shouldn't bother you. America's prescription drugs, alcohol, and real drugs are the problem (coke, crack, meth, speed, dope/heroin) . Cigarette's kill too, but are minuscule compared to the above.
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