Benjamin Chase "Ben" Harper (born October 28, 1969) is an American musician.
Harper was born in Claremont, in California's Pomona Valley. He began playing guitar as a child. His maternal grandparents' music store The Folk Music Center and Museum laid a foundation of folk and blues for the artist, complemented by regular patrons of Leonard Cohen, Taj Mahal and David Lindley and quotes of William Shakespeare and Robert Frost made often by his grandfather. During the 80s, in his teen years, Harper began to play the slide guitar, mimicking the style of Robert Johnson, to contrast that of then-popular heavy metal music. Next, Harper took up the Weissenborn to provide further distinction between his style and that of other blues musicians, including Johnson's. Harper broke out of the Inland Empire after being offered an invitation by Taj Mahal to tour with the artist. The 20 year-old Harper and the blues legend then recorded Follow the Drinking Ghour(d) and toured the Fiftieth State.
As a young man, Harper recorded the LP Pleasure and Pain with Folk multi-instrumentalist Tom Freund. After this limited edition record, Harper secured a record deal with Virgin Records, which released his debut album, Welcome to the Cruel World (1994).