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    Beck Biography

    BECK seemed to spring from nowhere — from a handful of hometowns, odd jobs, and late-night donut shops — to bring a completely fresh sound to pop music. As influenced by Leadbelly and Blind Willie Johnson as he is by rap and punk artists, he has woven the past with the present, making records that combine folk, blues, and hip-hop in a new sonic collage. The result can't really be labeled as one style or another, but whatever it is, Beck is its leader, though in interviews, he's reluctant to lay claim to much of anything.

    Beck David Campbell spent his childhood in two very different worlds — shuttling between Kansas City, where he lived with his paternal grandfather, a Presbyterian minister, and his mother's home in Los Angeles. Beck's mom, Bibbe Hansen, spent time in Andy Warhol's New York Factory scene in the sixties, appearing in the unreleased film Prison with Edie Sedgwick. In the early eighties, Hansen opened her home to L.A.'s hard-core punk community, whose members only slightly influenced her young son. While Beck's music may contain elements of punk's do-it-yourself ethic, it was the blues of Leadbelly and Mississippi John Hurt that had a more profound effect. His mother's unplayed copy of a Hurt album became a source of particular fascination, and before long, Beck had picked up the guitar.

    Dropping out of school following junior high, Beck began playing music on the streets of Los Angeles. By 1989, he had moved to New York. In the city's East Village clubs like Chameleon and ABC No Rio, an underground "anti-folk" scene — a radical deconstruction of the traditional folk that had dominated the Village in the sixties and seventies — was thriving, and there Beck honed his craft. He gravitated back to the West Coast in 1991, working in a video store and scaring up gigs in punk clubs whenever he could.

    At home, Beck began experimenting with crude "multi-track" demos, often recording himself live while playing back the sounds from another effort to create layers of sounds. Tom Rothrock, owner of a small label called Bongload Records, heard Beck and introduced him to producer Karl Stephenson. Soon, Beck was recording at Stephenson's house. One of the early songs recorded there featured Beck laying down slide guitar and improvisational lyrics in a rap style. When he found himself at a loss for words, he came up with a chorus meant to self-deprecate: "I'm a loser baby, so why don't you kill me?"

    With that line, Beck's most famous song, "Loser," was born, but it remained unreleased for over a year until Bongload Records put it out as a twelve-inch single in March of 1993. Despite an initial pressing of only five hundred copies, the song quickly found its way onto alternative radio. But "Loser" — with its hip-hop beat, stream-of-consciousness lyrics, and a chorus seemingly tailor-made as a twenty-something anthem — lost its context. Though Beck argued that the song wasn't about the slackers at all, who could blame the press and public for anointing the scruffy thrift-store street boy guitarist as the voice of his generation.

    "Loser" wasn't the only song Beck and Stephenson recorded. With a full album in the can, Beck declined numerous offers from major labels, but eventually inked a deal with DGC that guaranteed his artistic freedom. He also secured the ability to follow his muse with other record labels. Stereopathetic Soul Manure was released in February of 1994, on the Flipside label, only a month before Mellow Gold appeared on DGC. In addition, Beck recorded an album, One Foot in the Grave, for Olympia, Washington-based K Records.

    Odelay, Beck's second album for DGC, featured more traditional instrumentation and arrangements than Mellow Gold, but it was no less innovative. Eleven of the record's thirteen tracks were recorded with the Dust Brothers, who produced the Beastie Boys' seminal second album, Paul's Boutique a landmark work for its use of samples. Beck wrote the songs, but improvisation and experimentation played a central role in shaping Odelay. The Dust Brothers essentially acted as deejays, adding sounds, samples, and rhythm tracks when appropriate. Odelay peaked at No. 16 on the Billboard album chart, and was certified gold (500,000 units sold) within six months of its release in June of 1996. In February of 1997, Odelay earned Beck a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Performance.

    Beck Bio from Discogs

    American musician, singer-songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. born July 8, 1970 in Los Angeles, California, USA. Son of David Campbell and Bibbe Hansen, grandson of Al Hansen. He is married to Marissa Ribisi.

    When his parents split, he and his younger brother stayed with their mother. Beck dropped out of school at the age of 14 and drifted around for about a decade, ending up back in Los Angeles. While playing some open mic events, he got noticed by the little local label, Bong Load Custom Records. In 1993, "Loser" was released to the world in a limited pressing of 500 copies and sent out to radio DJs across the U.S. The song became quite popular, and Geffen signed Beck in November of 1993, giving him the freedom to work with independent labels and to make "uncommercial" music.

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