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Beck is stage name of American singer-songwriter, producer and multi-instrumentalist Beck Hansen, known for his genre blurring, experimental style, hailing from Los Angeles, California, U.S.
With the creative juices of his arranger/conductor father David Campbell and mother Bibbe Hansen, who was a regular at Andy Warhol’s Factory and pertinent to the rise of the Fluxus art movement, Beck dropped out of school in 10th grade to busk on the streets and attend poetry slams. After adopting a folk and blues style on the home recording “The Banjo Story”, Beck worked alongside Karl Stephenson to create a collection of songs with folk sensibilities combined with hip-hop beats. The musician’s debut release came with the single “MTV Makes Me Want to Smoke Crack” followed by the 17-track cassette “Golden Feelings” in 1993.
Beck’s move into the musical consciousness however didn’t arrive until the label Bong Load released the 12” single of the timeless hit “Loser”. The singer-songwriter subsequently signed with Geffen Records that meant he could released through independent labels, through which he released the 10” “A Western Harvest Field” in 1994. Beck’s debut full-length “Mellow Gold” arrived in March 1994, and shot to success on the back of the single “Loser”. Combining the infectious groove of blues guitar with the hip hop rhythm reminiscent of the Beastie Boys, the single and album became a smash.
In fear of becoming a novelty act, Beck quickly released a pair of LPs “Stereopathetic Soul Manure” and “One Foot In the Grave” in 1994. The minimalist nature of the latter showcased the singer-songwriter’s musical depth, and proved Beck wasn’t another one trick pony. After an extensive period of touring in 1994 and into 1995 including shows on the Lollapalooza tour, Beck enlisted the help of the Beastie Boys’ production team the Dust Brothers to work on his sophomore. “Odelay” appeared in mid-1996 to overwhelming commercial and critical success, earning a Grammy nomination in 1997. The album spawned the singles “Where It’s At”, “Devils Haircut”, and “The New Pollution”, and generated a huge amount of exposure and publicity.
Leaving the cut and paste process of the Dust Brothers’ production style behind, 1998’s “Mutations” was noted for its live, no-doctoring approach. The album once again earned positive reviews and resulted in Beck winning the Grammy for Best Alternative Music Performance in 1999. Taking influence from the hip hop and R&B act R. Kelly, the singer-songwriter worked alongside bassist Justin Meldal-Johnsen and keyboardist Roger Joseph Manning, to produce his seventh studio album “Midnight Vultures”. The album, released in 1999, aimed to be an upbeat and energetic record that would be enjoyable and fun to play on tour.
The acoustic album “Sea Change” arrived in 2002 as a result of the break-up of Beck's nine-year relationship, followed by the full-length “Guero” in 2005. “Guero” spawned the hits “E-Pro” and “Hell Yes” and led to the remix of the entire album entitled “Guerolito”. Produced by Danger Mouse, Beck released “Modern Guilt” in 2008, which debuted at No. eight on the Billboard 200 and earned favourable reviews. Beck subsequently focused on production and worked alongside Charlotte Gainsbourg, Thurston Moore, and Stephen Malkmus & the Jicks. New material arrived in 2012 with the collection of sheet music “Song Reader” followed in 2014 by the album “Morning Phase”, which peaked at No. 2 on the Billboard 200 and earned Beck three Grammys in 2015 for Best Engineered Album, Non-Classical, Best Rock Album, and Album of the Year.