Steal My Kisses
“You're definitely a different person at different stages in your life.” Ben Harper
Grammy Award winning American singer, songwriter and musician Ben Harper first came to the attention of the public in 1994 when he released the album “Welcome to the Cruel World.” He continued to enjoy commercial success with “Fight for Your Mind” (1995), “Burn to Shine” (1999) and the live album “Live from Mars” (2001). However, it was his collaboration with the gospel group the Blind Boys of Alabama on the No.1 Gospel album hit “There WiIl Be a Light” (2004) that brought the multi faceted instrumentalist his first Grammy Award (Best Traditional Soul Gospel Album). He got his second trophy for the single “11th Commandment” (from “There WiIl Be a Light”) for Best Pop Instrumental Performance. Since debuting on the Billboard 200 at No. 89 with “The Will to Live” (1997), Harper enjoyed a Top 10 hit album with the 2006 “Both Sides of the Gun” with his band the Innocent Criminals. He has since released two more Billboard 200 Top 10 hits with the albums “Lifeline” (2007) and “White Lies for Dark Times” (2009), Harper's debut album with his new group Relentless7. Harper has also released a number of singles, most notably “Steal My Kisses” (2000, #15 on the Adult Top 40), “With My Own Two Hands” (2003) and “Diamonds On The Inside” (2003, #31 on the Adult Top 40). His popularity has spread to France, Germany, Switzerland, The Netherlands, Australia and New Zealand.
Harper has appeared on various TV talk shows, including “The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn,” “The Henry Rollins Show,” “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno,” “Late Night with Conan O'Brien,” “Rove Live,” “Last Call with Carson Daly,” “Late Show with David Letterman,” “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” “Jimmy Kimmel Live,” “The Tonight Show with Conan O'Brien” and “The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson.” He also appeared in documentary films like “Last Party 2000” (2001) and the Award winner “Jesse's Story” (2009).
In 2004, Harper took part in the “Vote for Change” concert tour during the 2004 presidential election. The same month, he also participated in “For The Lady,” a benefit album for Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi, by providing a live recording of the song “Oppression.” In 2008 Harper contributed to the album “Songs for Tibet.” The album was released on the Internet on August 5, 2008, and hit music stores on August 19, 2008.
Harper has been married twice and is the father of four. He and first wife Joanna (together from 1996 to 2001) share two children. He and present wife, actress Laura Dern, whom he married in 2005 after having been together for five years, also have two children together.
A close friends of deceased actor Heath Ledger (born in 1979; died in 2008), Harper, at the request of Ledger, wrote the lullaby “Happily Ever After In Your Eyes” for Ledger's daughter Matilda Rose.
Childhood and Family:
Benjamin Chase Harper was born on October 28, 1969, in Claremont, California, to an African American father named Leonard and a Caucasian Jewish mother named Ellen Chase-Verdries. His parents separated when he was five years old, leaving young Ben under the care of his mother's family. He has two brothers, Peter and Joel Harper.
A grandson of a music store owner, Ben grew up listening to music. He started playing guitar as a child and was performing the time he was a preteen. Ben graduated from Pitzer College in Claremont, California, where he befriended future collaborator Tom Freund.
In 1996, at age 27, Ben married Joanna but the couple divorced in June 2001 after having their son Charles James and daughter Harris. In August 2004, Ben announced his engagement to longtime girlfriend and actress Laura Dern (born on February 10, 1967). They eventually exchanged wedding vows on December 23, 2005. The pair has two kids, son Ellery Walker (born on August 21, 2001) and daughter Jaya (born on November 28, 2004).
There WiIl Be a Light
After touring with the blues artist Taj Mahal, 23 year old Ben Harper recorded an LP in 1992 called “Pleasure and Pain” with Folk singer-songwriter and multi instrumentalist Tom Freund. The record received a limited release but Harper signed a record contract with Virgin Records. “Welcome to the Cruel World,” his debut album with the label, was released on February 8, 1994, and received good reviews. The album launched Harper as a popular folk musician in the California area. Harper supported the album by touring with bands like the Dave Matthews Band.
Back to the studio, Harper recorded his second solo effort, “Fight for Your Mind,” an alternative rock album that hit the music stores on August 1, 1995. Produced by Harper, Bob “Stiv” Coke, and J.P. Plunier, the album earned primarily positive reviews and was eventually certified gold by RIAA. It went platinum in Canada and rose to No. 34 in Australia.
On June 17, 1997, Harper released the album “The Will to Live.” The album was a success on college radio and adult alternative radio. It entered the Billboard 200 at No. 89 in 1997 and peaked at No. 17 in Australia. “The Will to Live” also served as an introduction to Harper's band, the Innocent Criminals, which consisted of bassist Juan Nelson, drummer Dean Butterworth and percussionist David Leach.
Harper's career gained a major boost with the release of “Burn to Shine” on September 21, 1999. The album proved to be a financial success and rose to No. 67 on the Billboard Hot 200. It spawned the radio singles “Steal My Kisses” and “Suzie Blue.” Released in 2000, the song “Steal My Kisses” went to No. 11 on the Billboard Bubbling Under Hot 100 Single chart and No. 15 on the Billboard Hot Adult Top 40 Tracks. “Burn to Shine” went gold in the U.S. and became a runner up on the Australian Albums chart. Thanks in part to the popularity of “Steal My Kisses,” Harper served as a headliner in two world tours and was hired as an opening act at the 2000 summer tour of the Dave Matthews Band.
On March 27, 2001, Harper and the Innocent Criminals launched “Life From Mars,” a two disc set of live acoustic and electric material taken from their 2000 tour and featuring several covers that Harper frequently performs in concert, including Led Zeppelin's “Whole Lotta Love” and Marvin Gaye's “Sexual Healing.” The album received gold certification from RIAA and rose to No. 2 in Australia.
Harper produced and released “Diamonds on the Inside” on March 11, 2003. The album peaked at No. 19 on the Billboard 200 and made it to the Top 10 on the Top Canadian Albums (#8) and the ARIA Albums Charts (#2). It also peaked at No. 19 on the Top Internet Albums chart. The self written reggae single “With My Own Two Hand” (2002) received steady rotation on European radio stations and its popularity in Europe led to Harper being awarded the French Rolling Stone Magazine's “Artist of the Year” in 2003. The follow up single, “Diamonds On The Inside,” (2003) rose to No. 31 on the Billboard Adult Top 40 and earned significant popularity in France and New Zealand.
Back to the U.S. after touring with the Blind Boys of Alabama in Europe, Harper joined forces with the noted gospel group to record a collaboration album called “There WiIl Be a Light.” Released on September 21, 2004, the album scorched through the Top Gospel Albums charts and landed at No. 1. It also peaked at No. 81 on the Billboard 200 and No. 6 in Australia. The album won a Grammy for Best Traditional Soul Gospel Album, while the song “11th Commandment” picked up another Grammy for Best Pop Instrumental Performance. They went on to released the concert CD/DVD package “Live at the Apollo” on March 14, 2005, which went gold in the U.S.
Harper was reunited with the Innocent Criminals for the double album “Both Sides of the Gun.” Released on March 21, 2006, the alternative rock record stayed at the No. 1 spot in Australia from March 27 to April 9, 2006. It also went to No. 7 on the Billboard 200.
Recorded in Paris in the fall of 2006 following the extended European tour to support “Both Sides of the Gun,” “Lifeline” was launched on August 28, 2007. The album debuted at No. 9 on the Billboard 200 and sold over 41,000 pieces in the first week of its release. The album rose to No. 6 on the European Top Album charts and No. 7 in Australia. The live album “Live at Twist & Shout” followed later that same year on December 4.
In 2008, Harper formed the band Relentless7 with Harper on guitar and lead vocals, Jason Mozersky on lead guitar, Jesse Ingalls on bass and keyboards, and Jordan Richardson on drums. The group made their debut performance at a benefit show on October 29, 2008, in Ohio, opposite the Beastie Boys, Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young, and Tenacious D. Harper and his new group released a debut album on May 5, 2009, titled “White Lies for Dark Times.” The album was well received by critics and debuted at No. 9 on the Billboard 200.
“My head works in music so there's always music there.” Ben Harper
Grammy: Best Pop Instrumental Performance, “11th Commandment,” 2005
Grammy: Best Traditional Soul Gospel Album, “There Will Be a Light,” 2005