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Ben Harper

Ben Harper

Fact Sheet

Birthday28 October 1968 (48)
Birthplace  USA
Ben Harper is an American musician of the 1990s. As a child, he began playing guitar in his homeland of California, eventually specializing in the acoustic slide guitar. As a young man, he recorded an LP (Pleasure and Pain) with fellow folk guitarist Tom Fruend, which spurred record label attention. After this limited edition record pressed, Harper received a record deal from Virgin Records, releasing his debut album, Welcome to the Cruel World (1992) to generally positive reviews.

His 1995 follow-up, Fight for Your Mind was a more mature and more political effort, while his third effort, The Will to Live (1997) expanded his fan base at college radio and adult alternative audiences. It also introduced the Innocent Criminals, Juan Nelson (bass), David Leach (percussion) and Dean Butterworth (drums), Harper's back-up band. Over the course of the next two years, Ben Harper & the Innocent Criminals toured incessantly and played on records and live with R.E.M., Pearl Jam, Radiohead, A Tribe Called Quest, Gov't Mule, Beth Orton, The Fugees and John Lee Hooker. In 1999, Burn to Shine was released, which included "Steal My Kisses" and "Suzie Blue", two college radio favorites. 2001 saw the release of Live from Mars, a critically acclaimed double-LP of a recent tour with Dave Matthews Band.

Diamonds on the Inside is Ben Harper's latest full offering. It offers a further diversification of style to include reggae, funk and a guest appearance by Ladysmith Black Mambazo. Interestingly, it sees a return to the line up featured on the Fight for Your Mind LP as neither Dean Butterworth or David Leach feature. For the following tour, Marc Ford, formerly of The Black Crowes joined the Innocent Criminals.

Most recently, Harper has released two DVDs, a documentary called Pleasure and Pain after his initial LP release with Tom Freund which covers what a tour is like with Ben Harper and the Innocent Criminals, along with much of Harpers personal philosophy. The second DVD, Live at the Hollywood Bowl was the first full concert DVD for Harper, who also released a 4 song EP Live at the Hollywood Bowl along with the DVD.

Ben Harper's family also owns a music store in Claremont, California. The Folk Music Center is also a musical instrument museum and features instruments from many countries, as well as vintage stringed instruments. The store was established by Ben's maternal grandparents, Charles and Dorothy Chase and is shown in Pleasure and Pain.