Benjamin Scott "Ben" Folds is the namesake for the alternative rock band Ben Folds Five who now performs as a solo artist and collaborates with many other musicians. You could say he's now The Ben Folds One and Others.
Ben was drawn to piano at age nine. His father, a carpenter, brought one home through a barter trade with a customer who was unable to pay. He liked to listen to the radio and was able to learn and repeat the songs he heard.
During his years at R.J. Reynolds High School in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, Folds played in several bands as the pianist, bassist, or drummer. In the late 1980s, Folds (as a bassist) and longtime friend Millard Powers formed the band Majosha. The group released several locally produced records. They played their first gig at Duke University's Battle of the Bands in 1988, and won. They played at bars and fraternity parties, and eventually put out a self-produced EP, which was sold at a few local stores called Party Night: Five Songs About Jesus. The record featured only four songs, with none of them about Jesus.
They recorded Shut Up and Listen to Majosha in 1989. It contains, among other tracks, the four songs from Party Night and what Folds would later record with his own band. At about the same time, they did a dance mix of "Get That Bug" that was released in Japan.
Majosha broke up in early 1990, and Folds formed Pots and Pans with Evan Olson on bass and Britt "Snuzz" Uzzell on guitar, and Folds on drums. The newly formed band lasted for only a month, after which Olson and Uzzell went on to form Bus Stop with Folds' brother, Chuck Folds.
(Continued below video and Amazon portal ...)
HIGHLY Recommended (Press album covers for direct links to Amazon):
Folds eventually got a music publishing deal with Nashville music executive Scott Siman, and moved to Nashville, Tennessee in 1990. He played drums for a short stint in Jody's Power Bill, which was later renamed The Semantics. Folds did not take a creative role in the band. He, again, attracted interest from major labels.
Folds attended the University of Miami's Frost School of Music on a percussion scholarship, but dropped out with one credit to go before graduating. He devoted a lot of time to working on piano technique.
Folds tells audiences about a jury recital when he was a student at the University of Miami’s music school. A jury recital consists of playing a prepared repertoire before faculty members who apply a grade for the entire semester. Folds showed up with a broken hand from a fight the night before, but was required to play anyway. He ended up losing his scholarship and in desperation threw his drumkit into a lake on campus.
After leaving Miami, Folds moved to Montclair, New Jersey and began to act in theater troupes in New York City. He also played weekly gigs at Sin-é.
Soon after, Folds moved back to North Carolina. The trio of Folds, bassist Robert Sledge, and drummer Darren Jessee formed Ben Folds Five in 1994 in Chapel Hill.
In 1995, Ben Folds Five released their self-titled debut album. The debut was followed by Whatever and Ever Amen in 1997, and the compilation Naked Baby Photos was released in early 1998. Whatever and Ever Amen spawned many singles such as "Brick," "Song for the Dumped," and "Battle of Who Could Care Less." In 1999, the band released their final album, The Unauthorized Biography of Reinhold Messner, which included the hit, "Army."
Folds' personal life has inspired some of his songs; the hit single "Brick," co-written with Darren Jesse, was based on the experience of Folds and his girlfriend having an abortion while they were in high school.
Folds has described his former band as "punk rock for sissies", and his oddball lyrics often contain nuances of depression, melancholy, self conflict, and humorous sarcasm, often punctuated by profanity.
Despite its presence on multiple Billboard genre charts, no Ben Folds Five singles reached the US Hot 100, although they did show well on both adult contemporary and modern rock charts. However they gained a strong following in the United Kingdom and Australia early in their career.
In 2001 Folds's first solo release after the breakup of the band was Rockin' the Suburbs. He played nearly all the instruments, notably guitar (an instrument seldom used during the Ben Folds Five days).
A year later, he released Ben Folds Live, a collection of live solo recordings. In late 2003, two solo EPs, Speed Graphic and Sunny 16, were released. The last EP, Super D, was released in mid-2004. Songs for Silverman was released in the U.S. in April 2005.
In the summer of 2004, Folds co-headlined an American tour with fellow singer-songwriters Rufus Wainwright and Guster. Folds again performed with Wainwright and Lee in the summer of 2005 as part of the "Odd Men Out" tour.
In addition, Folds has performed with many other notable musical names, including Weezer and Tori Amos. After seeing The Fray perform with Weezer, Folds asked the band to join him for twelve performances in 2005.
On October 24, 2006, Folds released Supersunnyspeedgraphic.
He is a judge on the TV show, The Sing Off along with Sara Bareilles and Shawn Stockman of Boys II Men.
-----For more about Ben, visit his website at -