AKA Beck David Hansen
Birthplace: Los Angeles, CA
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Loser
A performer that has built his career on musically cross-breeding a wide range of retro and contemporary styles, Beck (born Bek David Campbell) emerged from a family of musicians and visual artists: his father David Campbell being a prominent session performer/arranger, his mother Bibbe Hansen being a former musician who had acted in several of Andy Warhol's films, and his maternal grandfather Al Hansen being one of the founding artists in the Fluxus movement (a creative field that Beck's brother Channing would later choose). After his parents divorced in the late 70s, Beck remained with his mother in Los Angeles. During the ninth grade he dropped out of school and began working as a street busker, as well as traveling to Germany to spend time with grandfather Al. Near the end of his teens, he moved with his girlfriend to New York City and became active in the emerging "anti-folk" movement, performing in small clubs and cafés for year or so before returning, impoverished, to Los Angeles in 1991.
Back in LA, Beck continued to pursue his music while supporting himself with a series of low-paying jobs. It was during this period of constant activity -- performing in any kind of venue that he could insinuate himself into -- that the young singer came to the attention of Bong Load Records co-founders Rob Schnapf and Tom Rothrock. Beck's debut 12" Loser was subsequently released by the label in 1993, instigating a huge stir on the indie/college radio scene and earning its creator a national following. A corporate feeding frenzy ensued, with Geffen Records in possession of the prized morsel at its conclusion. It was around this time, apparently, that Beck stopped using his father's last name Campbell in favor of his mother's maiden name Hansen. The full-length album Mellow Gold, issued in 1994, more than followed through on the promise of Loser, earning both critical acclaim and impressive sales figures. As the terms of Beck's contract with Geffen stipulated that he could still work with independent labels, his next two releases -- Stereopathetic Soul Manure and One Foot in the Grave, both released in 1994 and both collecting material recorded before Mellow Gold -- appeared on the Flipside and K labels, respectively.
Beck's major label follow-up Odelay (recorded in collaboration with the Dust Brothers, a production duo responsible for popular albums by Tone-Loc and the Beastie Boys) surfaced two years later, and found the enthusiasm generated by Mellow Gold undiminished. The record quickly achieved multi-platinum sales and earned the singer his second radio hit (and a heavily-aired video counterpart) with the genre-scrambling Where It's At. After contributing the song Deadweight to the soundtrack of the Danny Boyle film A Life Less Ordinary towards the end of '97, Beck issued the hastily-recorded, band-performed collection Mutations in 1998. Originally intended for release through his original label Bong Load, a bit of a legal wrangle resulted after the pushy thugs at Geffen made the decision to release the album themselves. The dispute was ultimately settled out-of-court, and the album billed as a joint release between the two companies.
The spirit of cooperation was further exemplified that year in the form of a joint exhibition of visual works created by Beck and his grandfather Al Hansen, featuring a selection of collaborative and solo pieces from both artists.
A fourth Geffen release, the funk-infused Midnite Vultures, arrived in 1999. Critical response for the album was considerably more uneven than had been the case for his earlier efforts, but public support was still strong enough to carry it into the top 40. Beck's popularity proved to be anything but diminishing, however, and his next release, 2002's Sea Change, would be his first to find its way into the top ten. In constrast to the musical pastiche utilized on the rest of his Geffen output, the album's contents featured a distinctly more straightforward approach to songwriting, underscored by string arrangements created by his father David Campbell. For the subsequent tour, Beck enlisted the similarly-eccentric sensibilities of The Flaming Lips to act as both his support and backing band. His association with the Dust Brothers was renewed in 2004 to create a sixth major-label offering, Guero (2005), which featured Go It Alone, a track recorded in collaboration with Jack White of The White Stripes.
For the majority of his life, Beck has been in some way involved with the Scientology cult -- a circumstance that, until 2002, the singer and his label had attempted to keep out of public awareness, apparently with the concern that the information would have a negative impact on his popularity. Both of his parents have been members of the organization since the 70s, and his mother supposedly worked for them as a childbirth instructor before her move to New York at the end of the decade. As a child, Beck was enrolled in the Scientology-run Apple School, and after dropping out of high school he is listed in their literature as having completed a dozen-or-so Dianetics and related courses. As an adult he has continued to populate his personal life with other members of Scientology, his wife Marissa Ribisi also having multi-generational ties with the group.
Father: David Campbell (musician)
Mother: Bibbe Hansen (actress/musician)
Father: Sean Carillo (step-father)
Brother: Channing Hansen (Fluxus artist)
Girlfriend: Leigh Limon (ex-, dated 1991-2000)
Girlfriend: Winona Ryder (actress, ex-)
Wife: Marissa Ribisi (actress, m. 4-Apr-2004, one son, one daughter)
Son: Cosimo Henri Hansen (b. 2004)
Daughter: Tuesday Hansen (b. 2007)
Air Vocals 2001
Converted to Scientology from Judaism, at the behest of his father
Grammy Best Alternative Music Performance (for Odelay) (1996)
Grammy Best Male Rock Vocal Performance (for Where It's At) (1996)
Grammy Best Alternative Music Performance (for Mutations) (1999)
Jewish Ancestry Maternal
FILMOGRAPHY AS ACTOR
Mayor of the Sunset Strip (17-Jun-2003) · Himself
Southlander: Diary of a Desperate Musician (12-Mar-2001) · Bek
The Rugrats Movie (20-Nov-1998) [VOICE]
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