Jump to content

Ben Lee

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Ben Lee
Lee at the 2008 Australia Day Live Concert in Canberra
Lee at the 2008 Australia Day Live Concert in Canberra
Background information
Birth nameBenjamin Michael Lee
Also known asDJ Dad Bod
Born (1978-09-11) 11 September 1978 (age 45)
Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
GenresIndie pop
  • Vocals
  • guitar
  • bass
  • piano
Years active1993–present
Member ofRadnor and Lee
Formerly of
Spouse(s)Ione Skye

Benjamin Michael Lee (born 11 September 1978) is an Australian musician and actor. Lee began his career as a musician at the age of 14 with the Sydney band Noise Addict, but he focused on his solo career when the band broke up in 1995. He appeared as the protagonist in the Australian film The Rage in Placid Lake (2003).[1] He has released eleven solo studio albums.


Noise Addict[edit]

Lee's musical career began in 1993 with the band Noise Addict, who were signed to Steve Pavlovic's independent label Fellaheen Records, on the strength of a self-produced and distributed four-track demo recorded in Lee's bedroom. Pavlovic's connections brought the band to the attention of Sonic Youth's Thurston Moore and Beastie Boys' Mike D, both of whom released the band's material in the US.

The group put out several releases on the Beasties' Grand Royal Records. These included the acoustic Young and Jaded EP in 1994, which contained Lee's tribute to Evan Dando, "I Wish I Was Him". In 1995, Grand Royal released the band's only full-length album, the Brad Wood–produced Meet the Real You. Noise Addict made a music video for the song "16", toured with Sebadoh, but then broke up. Lee was also briefly a member of the alternative act Gerling.

In 2009, Lee recorded a new Noise Addict album, It Was Never About the Audience, with a new lineup: Lou Barlow and Lara Meyerratken.

Solo career[edit]

Lee's solo career started at the age of 16, while he was still in Noise Addict. He began recording his first solo album, Grandpaw Would, in both Sydney and Chicago with producer Brad Wood. This was followed by the 1997 album, Something to Remember Me By, also produced by Wood. An alternate version of his song "Burn to Shine", produced by T-Bone Burnett, played over the end credits of the film Best Men. Lee was then featured on the There's Something About Mary soundtrack, with the song "How to Survive a Broken Heart". 1998's Breathing Tornados, released on Pavlovic's new label Modular, marked a new direction for Lee as he introduced synthesisers and increased instrumentation into his sound.

The album was a success in Australia, earning Lee ARIA Award nominations for Best Male Artist and Album of the Year. The album's first single, "Cigarettes Will Kill You", was also nominated for Single of the Year and finished second in that year's Triple J Hottest 100. In 2001, Lee contributed a track ("Sweet Is the Night") to a Jeff Lynne tribute album Lynne Me Your Ears.

Lee's fourth album, hey you. yes you., was released in 2002. The first single from the album, "Something Borrowed, Something Blue", reached number 67 on the ARIA Charts and number 22 on the 2002's Triple J Hottest 100. The second single, "Running with Scissors", peaked at number 82 on the ARIA charts. In 2003, he also contributed several songs to the Evan Dando solo album Baby I'm Bored.

In late 2004, Lee left Steve Pavlovic's Modular Recordings and started his own record label, Ten Fingers. The first release on the label was the single, "Gamble Everything for Love", followed by the album, Awake Is the New Sleep in February 2005, which went double platinum in Australia. A defining release in his career, the album showcased a much brighter, positive side of Lee's personality, in contrast to his previous darker musings. Awake Is the New Sleep received several nominations for the 2005 Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA) awards, and Lee won Best Male Artist, Best Independent Release, and Single of the Year for "Catch My Disease", which Lee wrote with Mcgowan Southworth. "Catch My Disease" also went to No. 2 on the 2005 Triple J Hottest 100.

In addition, the song was featured on the soundtracks to the 2005 films Just Friends and Deuce Bigalow: European Gigolo, as well as the soundtracks to the television series, Grey's Anatomy, Hidden Palms and Scrubs. In 2006 it was used in a television commercial for Dell Computers. On 26 March 2006, Lee performed "We're All in This Together" from Awake Is the New Sleep at the closing ceremony of the 2006 Commonwealth Games. The single for "We're All in This Together" was released on 8 April 2006. The CD includes cover versions of the song by Pony Up, Holidays on Ice and Gelbison. "We're All in This Together" is being used in commercials for Kohl's (2008), Coca-Cola (Remixed Australian Summer Series Ads in 2007), the South Australian Government (2006), the Salvation Army Red Shield Appeal (2007) and Telus Mobility's "My Faves" (2007).

Lee released his sixth album, Ripe, on 18 September 2007 with Benji Madden and Mandy Moore making appearances. Mandy Moore sang a light-hearted, '50s style duet with Lee called "Birds and Bees". "Mandy was very sweet and did her best Olivia Newton-John for me. I'm really psyched about this recording," Lee says. Madden helped out with some backing vocals, along with US band Rooney and Sara Watkins from the band Nickel Creek. "American Television" from the album was used in a VH1 advertisement for Flavor of Love 3 and the song "Ripe" appeared in an episode of One Tree Hill (Season 5, episode 2).

In 2007, Lee performed a cover of Crosby, Stills & Nash's "Our House" for Landmarks on The DL.[2]

In February 2009, Lee released his seventh studio album, The Rebirth of Venus, which received mixed reviews.[3] It featured guest performances from the likes of Missy Higgins and Patience Hodgson, and peaked at No.21 on the ARIA Charts.[4]

Lee's eighth studio album, Deeper into Dream, was released on 11 October 2011. It was Lee's first attempt at a concept album, basing the entire 12 tracks around the dream state. Despite not charting,[4] it was received fairly favourably by critics.

In April 2013, Lee released his ninth and arguably his most experimental studio album entitled Ayahuasca: Welcome to the Work,[5] with collaboration from Jessica Chapnik. The album is based upon his personal experience with the psychoactive South American drug known as Ayahuasca. Lee featured as the mentor for Joel Madden's team on the 2013 season of The Voice Australia.[6]

In June 2015, Lee released his 10th solo album, Love Is the Great Rebellion, his first on a major label, Warner Bros. Records.[7]

According to Radio National's Geoff Wood, Lee invented the term "electro-yoga" to describe a new form of music dedicated to the practice of yoga.[8] Lee has since followed up this release with an acoustically oriented album, entitled Freedom, Love and The Recuperation of the Human Mind, in 2016; as well as a children's album, called Ben Lee Sings Songs About Islam for the Whole Family, in 2017. Together with former How I Met Your Mother star Josh Radnor, Lee formed an indie-folk duo called Radnor and Lee, and released their debut self-titled album in November 2017.

2018 saw the release of B Is for Beer, a soundtrack to the musical based on the novel of the same name written by Tom Robbins. Lee and Robbins had collaborated for ten years to develop the musical. Funding for the album's development came via crowd-sourcing at Kickstarter.

Lee released Quarter Century Classix in 2019, a collection of cover songs he was influenced by during his teenage years. In 2020, Radnor and Lee released their second collaborative album, Golden State.

In 2021, Lee competed in the third season of the Australian version of The Masked Singer as "Professor". He finished tenth after being eliminated in the third episode.[9]

In September 2021, The Music Network confirmed Lee had signed with Warner Music Australia, who will release I'M FUN! in June 2022, preceded by single "Born for This Bullshit". The deal includes rights to his 19-album back catalogue.[10]

Personal life[edit]

Lee was born in Sydney and was raised in a Jewish household, but did not consider himself religious as a child.[11] Lee was educated at Moriah College located in Sydney's eastern suburbs.[12]

Lee dated Claire Danes for several years, but their relationship ended in 2003. He married actress Ione Skye on 28 December 2008, in a Hindu wedding ceremony in India. They have one child.[13][14]

Lee stated that he follows a pescatarian diet.[15]


Studio albums[edit]

Title Details Peak Certification
Grandpaw Would
  • Released: 22 June 1995
  • Label: Fellaheen
Something to Remember Me By
  • Released: 20 May 1997
  • Label: Fellaheen
Breathing Tornados
  • Released: 16 November 1998
  • Label: Modular
hey you. yes you.
  • Released: 15 November 2002
  • Label: Modular
Awake Is the New Sleep
  • Released: 22 February 2005
  • Label: Ten Fingers
  • ARIA: 2× Platinum[17]
  • Released: 18 September 2007
  • Label: Ten Fingers
The Rebirth of Venus 21
Deeper into Dream
  • Released: 11 October 2011
  • Label: Dew Process
Ayahuasca: Welcome to the Work
  • Released: 22 April 2013
  • Label: Ten Fingers
Love Is the Great Rebellion
  • Released: 29 May 2015
  • Label: Warner Bros.
Freedom, Love and the Recuperation of the Human Mind
  • Released: 21 October 2016
  • Label: Ben Lee, ABC Music
Ben Lee Sings Songs About Islam for the Whole Family
  • Released: 3 March 2017
Quarter Century Classix
  • Released: 22 November 2019
  • Label: New West
I'm Fun!
  • Released: 19 August 2022
  • Label: Warner Music Australia
This One's for the Old Headz
  • Scheduled: 20 September 2024[19]
  • Label: Weirder Together
To be released

Collaboration albums[edit]

Title Details
Radnor & Lee (as Radnor & Lee) (with Josh Radnor)
  • Released: November 2017
  • Label: Radnor & Lee
Golden State (as Radnor & Lee) (with Josh Radnor)
  • Released: 19 June 2020
  • Label: Flower Moon (MDT 019)
It Was Never About the Audience (with Noise Addict)
  • Released: 30 November 2023
  • Label: Weirder Together

Soundtrack albums[edit]

Title Details
The Square (Motion Picture Soundtrack) (with Jessica Chapnik Kahn)
  • Released: 31 July 2008
B Is for Beer: The Musical (with Tom Robbins)
  • Released: 12 October 2018


Title Details
A Mixtape from Ben Lee
  • Released: 24 February 2015

Extended plays[edit]

Title Details
Away with the Pixies
  • Released: 1995
  • Label: Fellaheen
All Nite Long
  • Released: 2018
  • Label: Boutard Musique


Title Year Peak chart positions Album
"Pop Queen" 1994 Grandpaw Would
"Cigarettes Will Kill You" 1998 46 92 Breathing Tornados
"Nothing Much Happens" 1999 136 95
"Something Borrowed, Something Blue" 2002 67 hey you. yes you.
"Running with Scissors" 2003 82
"Gamble Everything for Love" 2004 39 Awake Is the New Sleep
"Catch My Disease" 2005 27
"Into the Dark"[A] 97
"We're All in This Together" 2006 59
"Love Me Like the World Is Ending" 2007 18 Ripe
"Numb" 54
"I Love Pop Music" 2009 86 The Rebirth of Venus
"Rise Up"
"Song for the Divine Mother of the Universe" 2010
"Big Love" 2015 Love Is the Great Rebellion
"Born for This Bullshit"[10] 2021 I'm Fun!
"Like This or Like That"[21] 2022
"Parents Get High"
"Tuck Shop"
(with Ninajirachi)[22]
2023 Non-album singles
"Monday Morning"
(Rob & Chad featuring Ben Lee)
"God Honest Truth"
(Shamir featuring Ben Lee)
"Over Asking (Sold)"
"Lovers"[23] This One's for the Old Headz
"Heavy Metal"[19]


  • A ^ The Australian peak for the Into the Dark EP is on the ARIA Albums Chart.

Promotional singles[edit]

Title Year Album
"Career Choice" 1998 Something to Remember Me By
"Dead or Anything"
(as part of Dando Lee Petersson Schwartzman)
2002 Dando Lee Petersson Schwartzman
"In My Life" 2005 This Bird Has Flown – A 40th Anniversary Tribute to the Beatles' Rubber Soul
"American Television" 2008 Ripe
"What's So Bad (About Feeling Good)?" 2009 The Rebirth of Venus
"Forgiveness" 2015 Love Is the Great Rebellion
"The Body of Love"
"Goodbye to Yesterday"

Other appearances[edit]

Awards and nominations[edit]

AIR Awards[edit]

The Australian Independent Record Awards (commonly known informally as AIR Awards) is an annual awards night to recognise, promote and celebrate the success of Australia's Independent Music sector.

Year Nominee / work Award Result Ref.
2006 Awake Is the New Sleep Best Performing Independent Album Nominated [24]
Ben Lee Independent Artist of the Year Nominated

ARIA Music Awards[edit]

The ARIA Music Awards is an annual awards ceremony that recognises excellence, innovation, and achievement across all genres of Australian music. They commenced in 1987. Lee has won four awards.

Year Nominee / work Award Result Ref.
1999 Breathing Tornados Album of the Year Nominated
Best Male Artist Nominated
"Cigarettes Will Kill You" Single of the Year Nominated
2003 hey you. yes you. Best Male Artist Nominated
2005 "Catch My Disease" Single of the Year Won [25]
Awake Is the New Sleep Best Male Artist Won
Best Independent Release Won
Album of the Year Nominated
Best Pop Release Nominated
Awake Is the New Sleep (Ben Lee, Lara Meyerratken, Dan Estabrook) Best Cover Art Won
2006 "We're All in This Together" Best Male Artist Nominated
Best Independent Release Nominated
Into the Dark Best Pop Release Nominated
2008 Ripe Best Independent Release Nominated
The Square (with Jessica Chapnik) Best Original Soundtrack, Cast or Show Album Nominated [26]

APRA Awards[edit]

The APRA Awards are held in Australia and New Zealand by the Australasian Performing Right Association to recognise songwriting skills, sales and airplay performance by its members annually.

Year Nominee / work Award Result Ref.
2006 "Catch My Disease" Song of the Year Won [27]
Most Performed Australian Work Won [28]

Australian Music Prize[edit]

The Australian Music Prize (the AMP) is an annual award of $30,000 given to an Australian band or solo artist in recognition of the merit of an album released during the year of award. They commenced in 2005.

Year Nominee / work Award Result Ref.
2005 Awake Is the New Sleep Australian Music Prize Nominated [29]


  1. ^ Vagg, Stephen (14 July 2019). "Australian Singers Turned Actors". Filmink.
  2. ^ "AOL Radio Stations | Free Internet Radio". Spinner.com. Archived from the original on 12 February 2012. Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  3. ^ "Reviews for The Rebirth of Venus by Ben Lee". Metacritic.com. Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  4. ^ a b c d Peaks in Australia:
  5. ^ "Ben Lee". Pledgemusic.com. Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  6. ^ Annabel Ross (4 April 2013). "The Voice | Ben Lee". Theage.com.au. Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  7. ^ "Album Premiere: Listen to Ben Lee's Love Is the Great Rebellion". Pastemagazine.com. Retrieved 5 April 2016.
  8. ^ Wood, Geoff (19 June 2015). "Yoga music goes mainstream". Radio National. Retrieved 30 May 2021.
  9. ^ Schneider, Kate (20 September 2021). "Judges shocked as Ben Lee revealed on Masked Singer". news.com.au. News Corp Australia. Retrieved 21 September 2021.
  10. ^ a b "Warner Confirms Ben Lee Signing". The Music Network. September 2021. Retrieved 25 September 2021.
  11. ^ "Pop Singer Ben Lee Comes Out of the 'Ayahuasca Closet' [INTERVIEW]". The Huffington Post. 24 June 2013.
  12. ^ Molitorisz, Sacha (9 November 2002). "The ballad of Ben Lee". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 30 November 2013.
  13. ^ "The many layers of Mr. Lee". The Sun-Herald. 2 September 2007.
  14. ^ "A Wedding in India for Actress Ione Skye". People.com. 11 January 2009.
  15. ^ "Vegetarian StarShould Ben Lee Be De-Throned?". Vegetarianstar.com. 22 September 2008. Retrieved 25 July 2017.
  16. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 1999 Albums" (PDF). Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 27 December 2021.
  17. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2005 Albums" (PDF). Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 29 July 2016.
  18. ^ "ARIA Charts – Accreditations – 2007 Albums" (PDF). Australian Recording Industry Association. Retrieved 28 December 2021.
  19. ^ a b "Ben Lee Drops New 'Heavy Metal' Song". The Music. 17 May 2024. Retrieved 19 May 2024.
  20. ^ "BEN LEE | full Official Charts history". Official Charts Company. Retrieved 29 July 2016.
  21. ^ "New Aus Music Playlist ADDITIONS – 08/04/22". Music Feeds. 8 April 2022. Retrieved 9 April 2022.
  22. ^ "Ben Lee On Ninajirachi Collab 'Tuck Shop'". The Music. 2 June 2023. Retrieved 4 June 2023.
  23. ^ "Ben Lee Gets Sincere on the Romantic 'Lovers'". Rolling Stone Australiadate=19 April 2024. 19 April 2024. Retrieved 19 May 2024.
  24. ^ "History Wins". Australian Independent Record Labels Association. Retrieved 18 August 2020.
  25. ^ "ARIA Awards – History: Winners by Year 2005: 19th Annual ARIA Awards". Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). Archived from the original on 17 December 2007. Retrieved 2 December 2021.
  26. ^ ARIA Award previous winners. "History Best Original Soundtrack, Cast or Show Album". Australian Recording Industry Association (ARIA). Retrieved 16 July 2022.
  27. ^ "Previous Winners Song of the Year". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Retrieved 5 May 2010.
  28. ^ "2006 Winners – APRA Music Awards". Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA). Archived from the original on 8 March 2011. Retrieved 5 May 2010.
  29. ^ "Winners & Shortlists". australian music prize. Retrieved 22 August 2020.

External links[edit]