The Info List - Ben Harper

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Benjamin Chase Harper (born October 28, 1969) is an American singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist.[1] Harper plays an eclectic mix of blues, folk, soul, reggae and rock music[2] and is known for his guitar-playing skills, vocals, live performances, and activism.[3] He has released twelve regular studio albums, mostly through Virgin Records
Virgin Records
and has toured internationally.[4][5] Harper is a three-time Grammy Award
Grammy Award
winner, with awards for Best Pop Instrumental Performance and Best Traditional Soul Gospel Album in 2005 and Best Blues
Album in 2014.


1 Early life 2 Career 3 Personal life 4 Philanthropy 5 Awards and nominations 6 Discography 7 Filmography 8 References 9 External links

Early life[edit] Harper was born in Pomona, California.[1] His late 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.[6][7][8] His parents divorced when he was five years old, and he grew up with his mother's family. Harper has two brothers, Joel and Peter. 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
William Shakespeare
and Robert Frost
Robert Frost
made often by his grandfather.[11]:5 In 1978, at the age of 9, Harper attended Bob Marley's performance in Burbank, California
Burbank, California
where Marley was joined by former bandmate Peter Tosh for the encore. It was, according to Harper, an important influence.[12] Career[edit] At the age of 12, Harper played his first gig.[13] During the 1980s, 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.[11]:11 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.[11]

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,[14] which released his debut album, Welcome to the Cruel World
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
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.[15] 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 first album, Brushfire Fairytales, in December 2000.[16] Jack Johnson became the opening act in late February 2001 for the last twenty-three cities of Ben Harper’s “Innocent Criminals” tour of the United States.[17] Early in Harper's career, his music received more attention in Europe and was widely played in Australia (first on Triple J
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 also 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 became wide enough that he was French Rolling Stone magazine's Artist of the Year (Artiste De L'Année) in 2003,[18] and his Australian tour that year for Diamonds on the Inside
Diamonds on the Inside
was highly successful with record sales. In 2002, Harper was one of the featured singers covering Motown hits by Marvin Gaye
Marvin Gaye
in the documentary, Standing in the Shadows of Motown (a history of The Funk Brothers). Harper was featured on the album True Love by Toots and the Maytals, which won the Grammy Award
Grammy Award
in 2004 for Best Reggae
Album, and showcased many notable musicians including Willie Nelson, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Trey Anastasio, Gwen Stefani
Gwen Stefani
/ No Doubt, Bonnie Raitt, Manu Chao, The Roots, Ryan Adams, Keith Richards, Toots Hibbert, Paul Douglas, Jackie Jackson, Ken Boothe, and The Skatalites.[19] On April 3, 2004, Harper and Jack Johnson performed with Toots and the Maytals on Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live
(season 29, episode 16), a show hosted by Donald Trump.[20][21] In October 2004, Harper participated in the Vote for Change
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
Nobel Peace Prize
winner and Burmese pro-democracy advocate Aung San Suu Kyi.

Harper playing a Weissenborn
in Massey Hall, Toronto, Ontario, 2008

In 2006, Harper released the double album Both Sides of the Gun
Both Sides of the Gun
which debuted at #7 on the Billboard charts. Though uncredited, he appears briefly in the 2006 David Lynch
David Lynch
film Inland Empire, alongside his wife Laura Dern. Harper is part of the No Nukes group
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
Buffalo Springfield
song "For What It's Worth".[22][23] Harper's collaboration "Boa Sorte/Good Luck" with Brazilian singer Vanessa da Mata
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 August 27, 2010, it was reported that Harper had formed a band called Fistful of Mercy
Fistful of Mercy
with Dhani Harrison
Dhani Harrison
and Joseph Arthur.[24] Fistful of Mercy
Fistful of Mercy
released their debut record, As I Call You Down, on October 5, 2010.[25] On May 17, 2011, 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.[26] On October 1, 2012, a new album from Harper with Charlie Musselwhite was announced entitled Get Up! on Stax Records / Concord Music Group. The official release date for the album was January 29, 2013. Get Up! was recorded in Los Angeles and produced by Harper. It is Harper's 12th studio album and first new recording since 2011's Give Till It's Gone (Virgin).[27] In December 2012, it was announced that Harper had co-produced lead vocalist Natalie Maines
Natalie Maines
of the Dixie Chicks
Dixie Chicks
first solo rock album Mother.[28] It was released on May 7, 2013.[29] In early 2015, it was announced that Harper and The Innocent Criminals would perform at the Boston Calling Music Festival in May 2015.[30] It's been confirmed that Ben Harper
Ben Harper
and The Innocent Criminals will perform at Rock Werchter Festival 2015 on June 28, 2015 .[31] On 12 February 2016, Harper released (as a YouTube video) his new single "Call It What It Is", first track taken from his upcoming new studio album Call It What It Is
Call It What It Is
due to be released on 8 April 2016. Personal life[edit]

Harper with his second wife Laura Dern
Laura Dern
in December 2009

In 1996, Harper married his first wife, Joanna.[32] They have two children together, son Charles (born circa 1997) and daughter Harris (born circa 2000).[32] Harper and Joanna separated in 2000, and were divorced in 2001.[32] Harper began dating actress Laura Dern
Laura Dern
after they met at one of his concerts in fall 2000.[32] Harper and Dern married on December 23, 2005 at their home in Los Angeles.[33] They have two children,[1] son Ellery Walker (born August 2001)[32] and daughter Jaya (born November 2004).[34] In October 2010, Harper filed for divorce from Dern, citing irreconcilable differences.[35] They briefly reconciled and attended the 2012 Golden Globe Awards
2012 Golden Globe Awards
together,[35] but Dern reactivated the divorce by filing a legal response in July 2012.[35] The divorce was finalized in September 2013.[36] Harper married his third wife, social advocate Jaclyn Matfus, on January 1, 2015.[5] Their son Besso was born in June 2017.[37] Harper is a skateboarder who has trained with Rodney Mullen
Rodney Mullen
and he also owns a warehouse for his personal skateboarding. Harper co-owns the skateboarding brand Roller Horror with professional skateboarder Mike York.[38] In September 2016, Harper appeared on The Nine Club skateboard podcast, hosted by Chris Roberts, where he discussed his relationship and history with skateboarding.[39] On The Nine Club, he also reveals that he went to school and began skateboarding with Chris Miller in Pomona, California. Harper's cousin is Washington State Supreme Court Justice Steven Gonzalez. 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. On Dec 11, 2016 he played an acoustic benefit concert at Bimbos in San Francisco supporting New Light India's "Boys Home Project". Founded in 2000 by Urmi Basu, New Light India provides shelter, educational opportunities, recreational facilities, healthcare and legal aid for the girls and women in Kalighat, notorious for its red light district. Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Show Award/Nomination

2003 Rolling Stone (France) Artist of the Year

2005 Grammy Award Grammy Award
Grammy Award
for Best Pop Instrumental Performance

2005 Grammy Award Grammy Award
Grammy Award
for Best Traditional Soul Gospel Album

2014 Grammy Award Grammy Award
Grammy Award
for Best Blues

Discography[edit] Main article: Ben Harper
Ben Harper

Studio albums

Welcome to the Cruel World
Welcome to the Cruel World
(1994) Fight for Your Mind
Fight for Your Mind
(1995) The Will to Live
The Will to Live
(1997) Burn to Shine (with The Innocent Criminals) (1999) Diamonds on the Inside
Diamonds on the Inside
(2003) There Will Be a Light
There Will Be a Light
(with The Blind Boys of Alabama) (2004) Both Sides of the Gun
Both Sides of the Gun
(2006) Lifeline (with The Innocent Criminals) (2007) White Lies for Dark Times
White Lies for Dark Times
(with Relentless7) (2009) Give Till It's Gone
Give Till It's Gone
(2011) Get Up! (with Charlie Musselwhite) (2013) Childhood Home
Childhood Home
(Ben & Ellen Harper) (2014) Call It What It Is
Call It What It Is
(with The Innocent Criminals) (2016) No Mercy in This Land (with Charlie Musselwhite) (2018)


Year Title Notes

1998–2001 Daria Episode: "See Jane Run" (Song: "Faded") Episode: "Camp Fear" (Song: "Burn to Shine")

2001 I Am Sam Song: "Strawberry Fields Forever"

2002 Standing in the Shadows of Motown Songs: "Ain't Too Proud To Beg"/"I Heard It Through the Grapevine"

Searching for Debra Winger Song: "The Three of Us"

2003 rage Episode: "Grinspoon Guest Program Rage" Song: "Ground on Down"

One Tree Hill Episode: "Crash Into You" Song: "Empty Apartment"

Joan of Arcadia Episode: "Death Be Not Whatever" Song: "Blessed to Be a Witness"

2004 Saturday Night Live Episode: "Donald Trump/Toots and the Maytals" Song: "Love Gonna Walk Out on Me"

Sleepover Song: "Walk Away"

2005 Trust the Man Song: "Everything"

2006 Akeelah and the Bee Song: "Everything"

The O.C. Episode: "The Dawn Patrol" Song: "Waiting For You"

CSI: NY Episode: "And Here's to You, Mrs. Azrael" Song: "Walk Away"

Ultimate Sessions Song: "Whipping Boy"

2007 Arctic Tale Song: "Happy Ever After in Your Eyes"

2008 Henry Poole Is Here Song: "Morning Yearning"

Wetlands Preserved: The Story of an Activist Nightclub Song: "People Lead"

Daylight Robbery Song: "Diamonds On The Inside"

2009 State of Play Song: "Please Don't Talk
About Murder While I'm Eating"

House Episode: "Brave Heart" Song: "Faithfully Remain"

2010 Late Night with Jimmy Fallon Episode: 2.152 (Song: "Father's Song") Episode: 2.7 (Songs: "With a Little Help from My Friends", "Walk With You")

Les Petits Mouchoirs Song: "Amen Omen"

Vampire Diaries Episode: Katerina Song: "Amen Omen"

The Fighter Song: "Glory & Consequence"

Close to the Dream Song: "Better Way"

2010–2011 Conan Episode: October 11, 2010 (Song: "Father's Son") Episode: May 25, 2011 (Song: "Rock n' Roll is Free")

2011 Wretches & Jabberers Song: "More Like You"

2012 The Girl Song: "Waiting on an Angel"

Redfern Now Episode: Raymond Song: "Not Fire Not Ice"

Bones Brigade: An Autobiography

2010–2013 Late Show with David Letterman Episode February 2, 2012 (Song: "Lay There & Hate Me") Episode May 18, 2011 (Song: "Rock n' Roll is Free") Episode April 29, 2013 (Song: "We Can't End This Way")

2011–2013 The Tonight Show with Jay Leno Episode May 24, 2011 (Song: "Rock n' Roll is Free") Episode November 18, 2011 (Song: "Save the Hammer for the Man") January 22, 2013 (Song: "I Don't Believe a Word You Say")

2014 The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson Episode: June 13, 2014 Song: "Learn It All Again Tomorrow"


^ a b c " Ben Harper
Ben Harper
Biography". Rolling Stone. Retrieved 2015-11-06.  ^ Dye, David (May 8, 2009). " Ben Harper
Ben Harper
Explores Rock With Relentless7 : World Cafe". npr.org. World Cafe (WXPN). Retrieved 2015-09-07.  ^ Pulvirenti, Angela (2007-08-19). " Ben Harper
Ben Harper
interview". Nine MSN (music). ninemsn Pty Ltd. Archived from the original on August 19, 2007. Retrieved 2015-11-06.  ^ "Ben Harper". Discogs. Retrieved 2015-11-06.  ^ a b Stutz, Colin (February 23, 2015). " Ben Harper
Ben Harper
is Married, Reunites The Innocent Criminals". Billboard. Retrieved 2015-11-06.  ^ Plunier, JP (February 3, 2008) [1994]. " Ben Harper
Ben Harper
Roots Part one". Les Inrockuptibles (no. 58). Archived from the original on February 3, 2008. English translation from an article originally in French.  ^ " Ben Harper
Ben Harper
- Every Facet Of The Diamond". Onewaymagazine.com. Retrieved 2015-09-07.  ^ Hodgkinson, Will (February 14, 2003). "Blood in the tracks". The Guardian. London. Retrieved April 26, 2010.  ^ [1] Archived December 19, 2007, at the Wayback Machine. ^ "Celebrity Jews j. the Jewish news weekly of Northern California". Jewishsf.com. February 11, 2005. Retrieved December 31, 2011.  ^ a b c Appleford, Steve. "I'll Rise: The Music and Message of Ben Harper" Page 5. Essay published in the Ben Harper
Ben Harper
CD Box Collection. Released April 4, 2000. ^ "BobMarley.com Ben Harper
Ben Harper
Discusses Bob Marley". YouTube. 2012-05-17. Retrieved 2015-09-07.  ^ " Ben Harper
Ben Harper
Celebrity Profile, News, Gossip & Photos". AskMen. Retrieved 2015-09-07.  ^ Randy Bachman, VinylTap, CBC Radio, July 7, 2012 ^ " Ben Harper
Ben Harper
- Biography". Billboard. Retrieved 2015-09-07.  ^ "Harper takes both sides The Honolulu Advertiser Hawaii's Newspaper". The Honolulu Advertiser. 2006-04-21. Retrieved 2015-09-07.  ^ "Jack Johnson Interviews". Archived from the original on October 26, 2009. Retrieved June 15, 2017.  ^ " Ben Harper
Ben Harper
Biography". Starpulse.com. 1969-10-28. Retrieved 2015-09-07.  ^ “True Love - Linear CD Notes." Toots and the Maytals. tootsandthemaytals.net. Web. <http://www.tootsandthemaytals.net/linear-cd-notes/>[permanent dead link]. Retrieved 9 November 2016. ^ “Donald Trump/ Toots and the Maytals
Toots and the Maytals
(2004)”. IMDb. imdb.com. Saturday Night Live
Saturday Night Live
(TV Series). Web. Retrieved 15 Dec. 2016. <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0694854/plotsummary?ref_=tt_ov_pl> ^ “Saturday Night Live”. TV Guide. tvguide.com. First Aired: April 3, 2004. Web. Retrieved 15 Dec. 2016. <http://www.tvguide.com/tvshows/saturday-night-live/episode-16-season-29/donald-trump-toots-and-the-maytals/100385/> ^ ""For What It's Worth," No Nukes Reunite After Thirty Years". NukeFree.org. Retrieved 2015-09-07.  ^ "Nuclear Information and Resource Service". NIRS. Archived from the original on June 9, 2015. Retrieved September 7, 2015.  ^ "George Harrison's son, Ben Harper
Ben Harper
form a band". CNN. August 27, 2010.  ^ "Consequence of Sound". Consequence of Sound. Retrieved December 31, 2011.  ^ " Give Till It's Gone
Give Till It's Gone
The Official Ben Harper
Ben Harper
Website". Benharper.com. May 17, 2011. Retrieved December 31, 2011.  ^ "Get Up! The Official Ben Harper
Ben Harper
Website". Benharper.com. October 1, 2012. Retrieved October 1, 2012.  ^ "The Official Natalie Maines
Natalie Maines
Music Site". Archived from the original on July 16, 2013. Retrieved July 12, 2013.  ^ "Tweet by @1NatalieMaines". Twitter. December 19, 2012. Retrieved December 21, 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.  ^ Ollman, Jonah. "Boston Calling Announces May 2015 Lineup". Sound of Boston. Retrieved January 15, 2015.  ^ " Ben Harper
Ben Harper
& the Innocent Criminals - Artist - Rock Werchter 2015". Rockwerchter.be. Archived from the original on August 22, 2015. Retrieved September 7, 2015.  ^ a b c d e Miller, Samantha (February 4, 2002). "Dern Happy". People. Retrieved September 21, 2013.  ^ "Actress Laura Dern
Laura Dern
Marries Ben Harper". People. December 23, 2005. Retrieved September 21, 2013.  ^ " Laura Dern
Laura Dern
gives birth to a daughter". Today. November 2004. Retrieved September 21, 2013.  ^ a b c Johnson, Zach (July 9, 2012). " Laura Dern
Laura Dern
Reactivates Dormant Divorce From Ben Harper". Us Weekly. Retrieved September 21, 2013.  ^ "Laura Dern, Ben Harper
Ben Harper
Divorce Is Finalized". Huffington Post. September 11, 2013. Retrieved September 11, 2013.  ^ " Ben Harper
Ben Harper
and Wife Jaclyn Matfus Welcomed a Baby Boy in June: Details". US Magazine. March 9, 2017. Retrieved March 10, 2017.  ^ Chris Roberts & Roger Bagley. "16 - Ben Harper". The Nine Club With Chris Roberts. Google Inc. Retrieved 28 September 2016.  ^ "#16 - Ben Harper". THE NINE CLUB WITH CHRIS ROBERTS. Retrieved 2017-06-26. 

External links[edit]

Find more aboutBen Harperat's sister projects

Media from Wikimedia Commons Quotations from Wikiquote Data from Wikidata

Official website Official Ben Harper
Ben Harper
Shop Ben Harper
Ben Harper
International Forum Ben Harper
Ben Harper
Live for Earth Day on National Geographic Ben Harper
Ben Harper
at RollingStone.com Ben Harper
Ben Harper
at AllMusic Ben Harper
Ben Harper
on IMDb

v t e

Ben Harper

Studio albums

Welcome to the Cruel World Fight for Your Mind The Will to Live Burn to Shine Diamonds On the Inside There Will Be a Light Both Sides of the Gun Lifeline White Lies for Dark Times Give Till It's Gone Get Up! Childhood Home Call It What It Is

Live albums

Live from Mars Live at the Apollo


Live at the Hollywood Bowl Live at the Apollo


"Steal My Kisses" "With My Own Two Hands" "Diamonds On the Inside" "Better Way" "Fly One Time" "Don't Give Up on Me Now" "Rock 'n Roll Is Free"

Other songs

"Burn One Down"

Related articles

Laura Dern The Blind Boys of Alabama Relentless7 Fistful of Mercy: As I Call You Down

Authority control

WorldCat Identities VIAF: 70077669 LCCN: no98122467 ISNI: 0000 0001 1447 4221 GND: 13196898X SUDOC: 055759661 BNF: cb139709916 (data) BIBSYS: 4028551 MusicBrainz: 1582a5b8-538e-45e7-9ae4-4099439a0