Ben Harper was born in Claremont California, 1969. His father was of Cherokee and African American descent and his mother was Jewish with Lithuanian and Russian roots. After his parents divorced, Ben Harper grew up with his mother’s family and his two brothers Joel and Peter. His grandparents owned a music store and Ben Harper started playing the guitar at a young age. He progressed to playing the lap steel guitar and played his first gig aged 12.
When Ben Harper was 20 years old, he was invited to go on tour with Blues legend Taj Mahal. This brought him to the attention of an audience outside of California. He recorded a limited edition album in 1992 with folk artist Tom Freund. This led to a contract with Virgin Records and Ben Harper’s debut album “Welcome to the Cruel World” was released in 1994, followed by “Fight For Your Mind” in 1995.
Ben Harper recruited a backing band in 1997 called the “Innocent Criminals”, recording a couple of albums with them in 1999 and 2001. He reverted to solo work for “Diamonds on the Inside” in 2003 and recorded his next two albums with the Blind Boys of Alabama.
Ben Harper got his first major success outside of the US and has said that his career was truly indebted to Australia, where his albums were played on national radio.
In 2007, Ben Harper reformed The Innocent Criminals to play on the album “Lifeline” and a live album released in the same year.
Ben Harper won two Grammy awards in 2005, one for “Best Pop Instrumental Performance”, the other “Best Traditional Soul Gospel album”
He has played slide guitar with many other notable stars such as Willie Nelson, Toots and the Maytalls, Ringo Starr, and Jack Johnson. He has released over 28 singles and 13 albums- most of which have reached gold or platinum status.
Ben Harper has performed and recorded with new band Relentless 7 since 2009 and his most recent album to date is “Live from the Montreal Jazz Festival” released in March 2010.