Ben Harper Biography
Ben Harper is an American musician of the 1990s and 2000s.
Harper began playing guitar as a child in his hometown of Claremont (in California's Inland Empire). He eventually specialized in the acoustic slide guitar (Weissenborn guitars). As a young man, he recorded an LP (Pleasure and Pain) with fellow folk guitarist Tom Freund. After this limited edition record, Harper got a record deal with Virgin Records, who released his debut album, Welcome to the Cruel World (1994).
This was followed by the incendiary Fight For Your Mind (1995) which became a college radio favorite and generated an abundance of songs which still fill his set list to this day.
In 1999 at the Santa Barbara Bowl, Harper met Jack Johnson, who was unknown at the time and had not recorded. Harper obtained a demo tape of 12 of Johnson's songs that he forwarded to his producer, J.P. Plunier, with whom Johnson recorded his first album. (ref)
From early on in his career, his music received more attention in Europe than it did in his home country. While he was a well-known and respected figure in the states, in countries like France, Germany, Switzerland, and The Netherlands he was a huge star, receiving a great deal of airplay and critical acclaim. His popularity in Europe is such that he was French Rolling Stone Magazine's "Artist of the Year" (Artiste De L'Année) in 2003, and his tour that year for Diamonds on the Inside played to packed arenas across the continent.
In October 2004, Harper participated in the 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.
Over the summer of 2005, when the Zooma tour scheduled with Trey Anastasio and various side stage performers was canceled, 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" and "Dressed In Black."
In 2006, Harper released the album Both Sides of the Gun which debuted at #7 on the Billboard charts.
Harper has just finished his worldwide tour, with support from Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley on the North American leg.
Brisbane River Stage, May 20, 2006 Harper recently completed his final leg of the Australian tour for Both Sides Of The Gun. The concert sold out and received rave reviews. The crowd of 20,000 were treated by an appearance from Jack Johnson to perform, with Harper, a cover of Bob Marley's 'High Tide or Low Tide'.
In July 2006 Harper supported the Red Hot Chili Peppers on their Stadium Arcadium tour, playing dates at venues including the Madejski Stadium in Reading and Pride Park stadium, home of Derby County Football Club, Derby.
Harper next commences upon a Stateside tour, along with supporting artist Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley, where he will visit, among others, one of his favorite venues in which to perform: Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colorado (August 23, 2006; sold out). Subsequent to this, he will tour Europe, including France, the nation that was one of the first to embrace his earliest musical offerings.
North American Tour 2006 Berkeley--- Greek Theatre On August 18, 2006, Ben Harper played for a sold-out crowd in Berkeley, CA at the Greek Theatre. During the height of the show, Ben Harper brought out Carlos Santana and did a guitar solo of Serve Your Soul. The act drew a surplus of applause as Carlos Santana stayed on stage for two more songs.
Austin City Limits Music Festival - Sept. 15-17, 2006 On Sunday, 17 September 2006, Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals played in front of an est. 70K+ in Austin, TX at the ACL Music Festival in a late afternoon show following Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley's performance on the same stage an hour earlier. Ben opened his show with an incredible rendition of Jimi Hendrix's "Voodoo Child", a nod to Stevie Ray Vaughn's adopted hometown and a favorite local song, in a set list that included "Burn One Down", "Steal My Kisses", "Diamonds On The Inside", and "Better Way". Hip-hop artist G. Love made a special guest appearance playing the harmonica, and the set concluded with Damian Marley and Ben playing Bob Marley's "Get Up, Stand Up". Austin resident and film star Matthew Mcconaughey was on-hand to enjoy Ben's performance.