Benjamin Burnley

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Benjamin Burnley
Benjamin Burnley.jpg
Burnley performing in February 2009
Background information
Birth name Benjamin Jackson Burnley IV
Also known as Ben Burnley (Spouse -Rhiannon Napier)
Born (1978-03-10) March 10, 1978 (age 36)
Origin Wilkes- Barre, Pennsylvania, United States
Genres Alternative metal, post-grunge
Occupations Musician, singer-songwriter, composer, guitarist
Instruments Vocals, guitar
Years active 1998–present
Labels Hollywood
Associated acts Breaking Benjamin, Adam Gontier, Three Days Grace
Notable instruments
PRS McCarty II, PRS Custom Baritone, PRS Customs

Benjamin Jackson Burnley IV (born March 10, 1978) is an American musician, best known as the lead vocalist, rhythm guitarist, primary songwriter, and sole constant member of the band Breaking Benjamin.[1] He has written some of the group's most successful singles such as "The Diary of Jane," "Sooner or Later", "Breath," "So Cold" and many others.


Early days as a musician[edit]

Benjamin Burnley was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey and grew up there and in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania. At 18, he dropped out of high school and moved to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, where he became a roommate of former Breaking Benjamin bass player Jonathan Price. He taught himself to guitar by listening to Nirvana's Nevermind (he cites Nirvana as his biggest influence). Before Breaking Benjamin was formed, Burnley earned money playing cover songs in various coffee houses as a solo artist. It was during this era that his band got its name. After performing a Nirvana cover, Ben knocked over a microphone (in imitation of his lifelong idol Kurt Cobain) and cracked it. The mic's owner walked onstage and said, "I'd like to thank Benjamin for breaking my f**king microphone."

Starting Breaking Benjamin[edit]

In 1998, Burnley and former lead guitarist Aaron Fink, got together (along with Nick Hoover and Chris Lightcap) and started the band “Breaking Benjamin.” Eventually, Ben wanted to try something different and went out to California to try some new material. The other three members went on to form the band “Strangers With Candy.” They recruited old friend Mark Klepaski to play bass and he joined in, and shortly after, Nick Hoover was asked to leave the band.

In 1999, Ben Burnley moved back to Pennsylvania, and started a band called “Plan 9” with drummer Jeremy Hummel. Originally, the band was a three-piece. The lineup consisted of Ben on vocals and guitar, Jeremy on drums, and Jason Davoli on bass. Plan 9 would occasionally open for Lifer at home shows. During one show, Ben said “Thank you, we’re Breaking Benjamin,” thus reclaiming the name from 1998. Later on, Mark left Lifer and found himself playing bass for Breaking Benjamin. Lifer continued going through struggles, and months later, Aaron sat in for a set with Benjamin. Finally, Aaron left Lifer, and was offered a spot in Ben Burnley's band, and they became a four-piece.[2]


Burnley has lent his vocal and songwriting talents to other acts as well. He has performed numerous live duets with fellow alternative rock bands such as Three Days Grace and Evans Blue. He made a guest spot on a special remix of The Drama Club's single "Brand New Day." He also co-wrote the Red hit song "Shadows." Currently, Burnley has been collaborating with former Three Days Grace singer, Adam Gontier, who is planning to release his solo album later in 2013. Together, Burnley and Gontier have written a song titled "The End of the Day".[3]

Personal life[edit]

Burnley suffers from several phobias, a fact that inspired the title of their 2006 album Phobia. Phobia's cover, which depicts a winged man hovering above the ground, represents Burnley's fear of flying, which has prevented Breaking Benjamin from touring outside the United States and Canada.[4] Burnley also suffers from hypochondria and a fear of the dark. He says that he doesn't believe in a person’s time to die and he wants to put off dying for as long as he possibly can, which is why he doesn’t fly or even ride in a car unless it’s necessary. He incorporates his phobias into his music on the album We Are Not Alone in the song “Break My Fall,” in which a pilot is heard over the music saying, “Mayday, mayday. Request permission to land. I cannot control the plane. We are in danger of crashing.”

Burnley is an avid video gamer, and conceived of the idea for Breaking Benjamin to write and record the song "Blow Me Away" for the soundtrack to Halo 2. The song "Polyamorous" is also featured on the games Run Like Hell, WWE SmackDown! vs. Raw and WWE Day of Reckoning (along with their song "Firefly"). "Diary of Jane" appears on NASCAR 07.[5]

Burnley is a recovering alcoholic, admitting in an interview with that he wanted to "drink himself to death."[6] He says that he regrets ever drinking a drop of alcohol and is victim to Wernicke–Korsakoff syndrome due to his past excessive drinking. Dear Agony was reported to be the first ever Breaking Benjamin record to be written by Burnley without the aid of alcohol.[7]

He is the fourth Benjamin Jackson Burnley in his bloodline. Before him are his uncle, his grandfather, and his great-grandfather. Burnley's family has owned B.J. Burnley Company since 1967 in Middleburg, Pennsylvania. His uncle, Benjamin Jackson Burnley III, died on June 29, 2010, at the age of 54. [8] The company closed after Burnley III's death.[9] Ben is married to Rhiannon Napier.