Ben Smith is truly a drummer’s drummer. His talent and versatility keep him in constant demand for studio sessions and live engagements across the nation and around the world. One look at Ben’s credits and it’s clear that he shines laying down the groove for any kind of music.
Ben has performed and recorded with an impressive and diverse roster of artists, including: Heart, Buddahead, Ann and Nancy Wilson, Taj Mahal, Cyndi Lauper, Lovemongers, Tracy Nelson, Deniece Williams, Peter Frampton, P.F. Sloan (legendary producer and writer of “Eve of Destruction” and “Secret Agent Man”), Cornelius Bumpus, Danny O’Keefe, Sugar Pie de Santos, jazz artists Nancy Wilson, Ernestine Anderson and Glenn Alexander, Phoebe Snow, Tingstad and Rumbel, The Songcatchers featuring Charles Neville, Kenny G and Tony Gable and 206; as well as the many other talented artists both live and in the studio.
Originally from California, Ben made a name for himself performing in Seattle with Kenny G, and other top local artists before moving to New York. Ben’s career took off in the big city, when he teamed up with songwriter Gene McDaniels, who penned such hits as Roberta Flack’s “Feel Like Makin’ Love” and Eric Clapton’s “Before You Accuse Me.” Their work included recording film score music with Michel Legrande and recording dates with jazz performers Nancy Wilson, Phyllis Hyman, Marcus Miller and numerous other artists.
Ben’s sound caught the ear of pop and R&B icon Phoebe Snow, and he toured with her for two and a half years. Not wanting to let his jazz chops cool during this time, Ben also played on two releases by guitarist Glenn Alexander: featuring artists the likes of Randy Brecker and Mino Cinelu, Manolo Badrena, Mark Egan, Scott Healy and T Lavitz, among others. Extensive touring followed these releases, including festivals and club dates at the Blue Note in New York and Blues Alley in Washington, D.C.
Ben began performing with Heart in the fall of 1995, including performances on “The Tonight Show with Jay Leno” in the fall of ‘96, the “Ann Wilson of Heart” tour ‘96, the “VH-1 Fairway to Heaven” concert ‘96, and the “Ann Wilson of Heart” concert tour ‘98, as well as the ‘02 “Summer of Love” US tour with Heart, which included Ann and Nancy Wilson, Mike Inez of Alice in Chains, Scott Olson and Tom Kellock. A film of that tour was presented on pay-per-view, with the retail DVD and cd releases, both titled “Heart: Alive in America”, available as of May 12th. A new studio album, “Jupiter’s Darling” was released in 2004 featuring blistering performances by Mike McCready , Jerry Cantrell, Mike Inez, Darian Sahanaja, Craig Bartock and a few others, accompanied by European and U.S. concert tours, appearances on Jay Leno, Conan O’Brien, an XM Live Radio Concert at the Hard Rock in NY, The Today Show, Ellen and the Showtime drama “The L Word”.
Other work with Ann and Nancy Wilson included two releases by Lovemongers (with founding members Frank Cox and Sue Ennis), “Whirligig” on Will Records, and the 1998 holiday album “Here is Christmas” on Beyond Records, re-released with some new material in 2004 as “Heart Presents A Lovemongers Christmas”, as well as the Lovemongers tour in November and December ‘97; and other concert dates since then.
Ben played drums for the Cameron Crowe film (and soundtrack) “Almost Famous”, with Nancy Wilson composing, featuring Peter Frampton and Mike McCready of Pearl Jam, which included the songs by the band “Stillwater”. The soundtrack for this film won the Grammy award for Best Soundtrack at the Grammys 2001, and the film took the Oscar for Best Screenplay. Ben also performed with Nancy Wilson and Mike McCready for the Cameron Crowe film “Vanilla Sky” starring Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz and Penelope Cruz, including the song “I Fall Apart”, sung by Cameron Diaz. Ben’s other film work includes the films written by Sherman Alexie: “Smoke Signals” and “Skins”; on “Mod Squad”, and “Around the Fire” featuring guitar work by Bill Frisell; He also appeared on the film “Mercy”, on a USA Network film “The Chippendale Murders”, and on an independent film “Finder’s Fee”, all with composer B. C. Smith. Ben also played on sessions for “Moonglow”, Steven Ray Allen composer.
Additional work has included recording and/or performing with hit record producer Don Gilmore (of Linkin Park, Sugar Ray, John Doe, Lit and Eve 6 fame) on “Buddahead” for Interscope Records; with BoyMeetsGirl on their new release; with Tony Gable and 206 on their new EP; with B.B. King for the Microsoft Network’s “Riff” series; on Danny O’Keefe’s new record; and with many talented independent artists, including Danny Barnes, SweetLou, Superlush, Left Hand Smoke and Elaine Summers.