This week is a big one for [lastfm]Ben Harper[/lastfm]. Today he releases his new album, Give Till It’s Gone; and then the next day (Wednesday, May 18) he takes the stage at the famed Ed Sullivan Theater for the latest installment of the Live on Letterman online concert series!
Over the past couple of decades Harper has established himself as one of the pre-eminent American singer/songwriters, with a string of critically acclaimed and commercially successful albums. He has also found success across the globe. He is a superstar in Australia, and French Rolling Stone magazine listed him as artist of the year in 2003.
Having grown up in a musical family, [lastfm]Ben Harper[/lastfm] began playing gigs when he was only 12 years old. During his teens he took up the slide guitar and played blues in the style of his hero, [lastfm]Robert Johnson[/lastfm]. His big breakthrough came at 20 years old when he was invited by folk legend [lastfm]Taj Mahal[/lastfm] to join him on tour. Harper and Mahal recorded the album Follow the Drinking Gourd and toured Hawaii together.
Harper recorded his first LP, Pleasure and Pain in 1992. From there he was signed to Virgin Records and released a number of albums, like the classic Fight For Your Mind, that established him as a college radio favorite.
His combination of funk, soul and acoustic rock struck a chord with youths looking for an alternative to the ’90s rock scene. By the end of the millennium, Harper received more and more attention, culminating in his breakthrough hit “Steal My Kisses.”
Since then, Harper has continued to explore different musical territories and recorded albums with two different backing bands: [lastfm]The Innocent Criminals[/lastfm] and the [lastfm]Relentless7[/lastfm]. His brand-new album Give Till It’s Gone is his first solo effort in years.
Watch Ben Harper’s Live on Letterman concert webcast on Wednesday, May 18 at 8pm Eastern (5pm Pacific).
And in the meantime, enjoy this music video for “Give Till It’s Gone”: