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Famous Like Me > Composer > H > Ben Harper

Profile of Ben Harper on Famous Like Me

Name: Ben Harper  
Also Know As:
Date of Birth: 28th October 1969
Place of Birth: Claremont, California, USA
Profession: Composer
From Wikipedia, the free Encyclopedia

Ben Harper (born October 28, 1968) is an American musician of the 1990s and 2000s.


As a child, he began playing guitar in his hometown of Claremont (in California's Inland Empire) - eventually specializing in the acoustic slide guitar (weissenborn guitars). As a young man, he recorded an LP (Pleasure and Pain) with fellow folk guitarist Tom Freund, which spurred record label attention. After this limited edition record, 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 album, Fight for Your Mind was a more mature and more political effort, while his third, The Will to Live (1997), expanded his fan base at college and adult alternative radio 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, another of Ben Harper's offerings 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. Strangely, the CD returned the Innocent Criminals to un-credited status in the title, with Diamonds on the Inside being credited to solely Ben Harper, although they played as backup band on the record just as on all previous.

In October of 2004, Ben participated in the Vote for Change concert tour organized to benefit and encourage people in the swing states to vote during the 2004 U.S. presidential election.

Recently, Harper released a Grammy award winning collaboration album with The Blind Boys of Alabama, called There Will Be a Light, a heavily gospel-influenced album. The entire album features the Innocent Criminals (as featured in Diamonds on the Inside) as back-up band to Harper and the Blind Boys, who sing harmonies over the music. The special edition included live versions of a number of the new songs.

Over the summer of 2005, when the Zooma tour that had been scheduled with Trey Anastasio and various side stage performers was cancelled, Harper took on a tour of more private clubs/venues such as the Avalon Ballroom in Boston, and the Tabernacle in Atlanta. This series of concerts saw the debut of a number of new Harper songs, such as "Get It Like You Like It", "Dressed In Black", and "Gather 'Round the Stone" all of which seem possed to make it onto Ben's next record which is being recorded over the fall and winter of 2005.

Harper has released three 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; Live at the Hollywood Bowl, which was the first full concert DVD for Harper, who also released a 4 song EP Live at the Hollywood Bowl along with the DVD; and Live at the Apollo, a concert DVD featuring most of Ben's 10-12-2004 concert at the Apollo Theater with The Blind Boys of Alabama, along with an overseas only EP version of the concert.

Ben Harper's family also owns a music store in his hometown of 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, is currently managed by his mother, Ellen Chase-Verdries, and is shown in Pleasure and Pain.


  • Pleasure and Pain (1992)
  • Welcome to the Curel World (1994)
  • Fight For Your Mind (1995)
  • The Will To Live (1997)
  • Burn To Shine (1999)
  • Live From Mars (2001)
  • Diamonds on the Inside (2003)
  • There Will Be A Light (2004)
  • Live At The Apollo (2005)


  • Pleasure and Pain
  • Live at the Hollywood Bowl
  • Live at the Apollo

Sound samples

  • Download sample of a live performance of Bob Marley's "Redemption Song"

This content from Wikipedia is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article Ben Harper