Beck Biography

Songwriter, Singer(1970–)
Beck is an American musician who topped the charts in 1993 with the hit single "Loser." Known for fusing folk, rap and hip-hop, his albums include Mellow Gold, Odelay and Morning Phase.

Synopsis

Born into an artistic, Scientologist family in Los Angeles, California, in 1970, Beck began playing music in local coffeehouses around 1990, and has been astounding and delighting critics with his unique output ever since. Beck released his first hit single, "Loser," from his debut album, Golden Feelings, in 1993. The following year, he released his third studio album, Mellow Gold, which was a hit. Later albums include Odelay (1996), Guero (2005) and Morning Phase (2014). Beck's music has been deemed a witty fusion of rock, folk, rap and hip-hop.

Early Life and Career

Beck was born Beck David Campbell on July 8, 1970, in Los Angeles, California, into an artistic, Scientologist family. His father was a conductor and string arranger, and his mother was an ex-Warholian actress. His grandfather, Alfred Earl "Al" Hansen, was a key Fluxus artist.

After dropping out of school when he was in the 10th grade, Beck began playing acoustic blues and folk music in local coffeehouses and as a street busker in the early 1990s. He also dabbled in poetry slams during this time.

After trying to make it in New York, Beck was discovered in 1991 by the independent lable Bong Load Custom Records, and while working with representatives from the label, he was persuaded to work hip-hop beats into his rock music. Recording with Karl Stephenson and Calvin Johnson, he released the single "MTV Makes Me Want To Smoke Crack" in 1992.

Musical Fame

Beck followed this with "Loser," a 12-inch single, from his debut album, Golden Feelings (1993). The song instantly became a local radio hit. It was so popular, in fact, that Bong Load had trouble printing enough copies to meet the demand.

Signing to Geffen Records on a non-exclusive basis, Beck continued to release independently, with both his first EP, A Western Harvest Field By Moonlight, and second studio album, Stereopathetic Soulmanure, dropping in 1994. That same year, "Loser" was released nationally, becoming a generational anthem, and Beck released his Geffen debut and third studio album, Mellow Gold, which went platinum. Before the year's end, he released One Foot in the Grave (1994), his fourth studio project, on the independent label K Records. Stereopathetic Soul Manure and One Foot in the Grave saw Beck switch between lo-fi noise and acoustic folk. In 1995, the artist embarked upon his first major tour.

Beck went on to release Odelay, made with Grammy Award-winning producers the Dust Brothers, in 1996 to massive acclaim. The album, which included such hits as "Where It's At," "Devil's Haircut," "Jack-Ass" and "The New Pollution," garnered two Grammy Awards for the performer in 1997—for best male rock vocal performance ("Where It's At") and best alternative music album (Odelay was also nominated for album of the year).

Beck's mellow follow-up, Mutations (1998), disappointed some and his next, Midnite Vultures (1999), divided opinion with its Prince-style party funk. Nonetheless, Beck went on to perform a duet with popular country singer-songwriter Emmylou Harris in 1999, win another Grammy (for best international solo artist, Mutations) in 2000 and appear on Air's 10,000 Hz Legend in 2001.

The following year, Beck released his eighth studio album, Sea Change (2002), promoting it with an acoustic tour. Around this same time, the artist announced that he'd adopted the Flaming Lips, fronted by singer Wayne Coyne, as his backing band.

Following his Sea Change tour, Beck returned to the studio in 2004 to record his ninth studio project, Guero. Featuring a duet with Jack White from the White Stripes, the album was released in March 2005 to great critical acclaim (including a high rating of 4/5 stars by Rolling Stone magazine). Popular Guero singles include "Girl," "Hell Yes" and "E-Pro," which features a drum track by the Beastie Boys. Accompanied by his band—and joined by puppets dressed as himself and his band—Beck toured to promote the album in 2006.

Later Releases

Beck's 10th studio album, The Information, described as quasi hip-hop, was released in October 2006. His next album, Modern Guilt, followed in July 2008.

Later, Beck wrote songs for the fictional band Sex Bob-omb for the Scott Pilgrim vs. the World soundtrack in 2010. Not long after, the artist began working with country singer Dwight Yoakam, co-producing two songs—"A Heart Like Mine" and "Missing Heart"—on Yoakam's 2012 album, 3 Pears. Also in 2012, Beck released the single "I Just Started Hating Some People Today," featuring Jack White.

In February 2014, Beck released his 12th studio project, Morning Phase, a downtempo and at times melancholy work garnering both critical and commercial acclaim. In 2015, Phase earned Beck Grammys for Best Rock Album and, in what some considered a major upset amid more popular entertainers, Album of the Year.

With his music having been deemed a witty fusion of rock, folk, rap and hip-hop, Beck continues to astound and delight critics and audiences alike with his unique output.

Personal Life

Beck married actress Marissa Ribisi, the twin sister of actor Giovanni Ribisi, in April 2004, shortly before the birth of their son, Cosimo Henri. The couple welcomed a daughter, Tuesday, into their family in 2007.

Fact Check

We strive for accuracy and fairness. If you see something that doesn't look right, contact us!