Benjamin Burnley

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Benjamin Burnley
2016 RiP Breaking Benjamin - Benjamin Burnley - by 2eight - 8SC8634.jpg
Burnley performing in June 2016
Benjamin Jackson Burnley IV

(1978-03-10) March 10, 1978 (age 41)
  • Musician
  • singer
  • songwriter
  • record producer
Years active1998–present
Known forFrontman of Breaking Benjamin
Spouse(s)Rhiannon Burnley (née Napier)
Musical career
  • Vocals
  • guitar
Associated actsBreaking Benjamin

Benjamin Jackson Burnley IV (born March 10, 1978) is an American musician, singer, songwriter, and record producer, best known as the founder and frontman of the American rock band Breaking Benjamin. As the sole constant of the group, Burnley has served as its principal songwriter, lead vocalist, and guitarist since its inception in 1999. Since signing with Hollywood Records in 2002, Burnley has composed six studio albums under the name Breaking Benjamin, three of which have reached platinum and two of which have reached gold in the United States.[1] Outside of Breaking Benjamin, Burnley has also collaborated with acts such as Adam Gontier[2] and Red.[3]

Burnley's lyrical content frequently and most recently consists of cryptic, angst-ridden themes that "waffle between being plaintive and aggressive." Burnley has the range of a tenor and occasionally utilizes death growls in his singing. IGN described him as having a "somewhat innocuous voice that is crystal clear... fluctuating between contemplative subjectivity and growling anger."[4] Burnley uses baritone guitars and drop tunings to match the range of his voice.[5]

Life and career[edit]

Early life and career beginnings[edit]

Burnley was born in Atlantic City, New Jersey and grew up in Ocean City, New Jersey before moving with his family at the age of 12 to the Snyder County town of Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania.[6] At 16, he became home schooled and quickly passed the GED requirement. At 21 he moved to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, where he became a roommate of former Breaking Benjamin bass player Jonathan Price. During his early teen years he taught himself to play guitar by listening to Nirvana's Nevermind (he cites Nirvana as his biggest influence). Before Breaking Benjamin was formed, Ben Burnley earned money playing cover songs, mixed in with his own in various coffee houses and other all age venues mostly with local neighboring musicians.

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 (later known as Lifer). 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 lineups consisted of Benjamin on vocals and electric 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 Fink 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.[7]


Burnley has lent his vocal and songwriting talents to other acts as well. He has performed numerous live duets with fellow alternative metal bands such as Three Days Grace, Evans Blue and Disturbed. 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" and Madam Adam song "Forgotten". Burnley has collaborated with former Three Days Grace singer Adam Gontier on a song titled "The End of the Day" (yet to be released).[8]

Personal life[edit]

Burnley has 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 in the past.[9] However in May 2016, he and his band members travelled through ferry ship to Europe, and made their first musical tour outside of the US and Canada. Breaking Benjamin again toured Europe in 2017 successfully. 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"). "The Diary of Jane" appears on NASCAR 07.[10]

Burnley is a recovering alcoholic, admitting in an interview with that he wanted to "drink himself to death."[11] 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 use of alcohol.[12]

In honor of his grandfather and uncle, his name was chosen by the then only Burnley woman, his mother, who took back her maiden name of Burnley: Benjamin Jackson Burnley. There is a long line of Benjamin Jackson Burnley males preceding his grandfather and uncle. Like many a family name can attest to a place, they hailed from Burnley, England. Burnley's family owned B.J. Burnley Company since 1967. It began in Nicetown, Philadelphia. With the family relocation in 1969 to Ocean City, New Jersey, the company was active and expanded to Middleburg, Pennsylvania in 1986 where it thrived until the passing of Benjamin J. Burnley Jr., in 2008. Benjamin Jackson Burnley III died on June 29, 2010, at the age of 54.[13] It was firmly decided that the company be closed after Burnley III's death, because with the passing of the last of the two founders, it could never have the benefit of the combined wisdom that father and son had amassed for more than 40 years.[14] Burnley is married to Rhiannon Burnley (née Napier). On November 1, 2014, Burnley gave birth to their first child, Benjamin Jackson Burnley V. Ben and his family currently reside in Ocean City, New Jersey.

Burnley is left-handed but plays guitar right-handed.[15]

Star Wars: Battlefront (2015) controversy[edit]

Besides video games, Burnley is also an avid fan of Star Wars. In 2015, Burnley claimed that he was offered a paid promotional deal for talking positively about Electronic Arts' reboot of Star Wars: Battlefront for Xbox One. Instead, Burnley destroyed the game's disc and openly stated via Instagram:

They wanted to pay me to post that I like this piece of shit game. They can shove it up their ass. This game sucks, I'd rather watch the god awful prequels than play this piece of shit one more second. That's for ruining Star Wars, EA :)

His reasons as to why he thought the game was no fun include poor spawn placement, overpowered weapons, a lack of a rewards system, bad hit-detection, and Hero/Villain gameplay that is no fun. He also criticized online games in certain ways due to their reliance on the Internet.[16][17][18]


  1. ^ "RIAA - Gold & Platinum Searchable Database". RIAA. Archived from the original on September 4, 2015. Retrieved March 29, 2015.
  2. ^ Brutus, Lou (January 17, 2013). "Get The Dirt". KQRX 95.1. Brazos Communications West, LLC. Archived from the original on April 11, 2015.
  3. ^ "Red - Shadows". iHeart Radio. Retrieved April 10, 2015.
  4. ^ Spence D. (September 11, 2006). "Breaking Benjamin - Phobia". IGN. j2 Global. Archived from the original on February 19, 2014.
  5. ^ "Ben Burnley Talks About His Baritone Guitar And Low Tunings". YouTube. FRET12. Retrieved April 10, 2015. (verified channel, primary source).
  6. ^ Roncace, Kelly. 'Breaking Benjamin is back and going home with show at Trump Taj Mahal", NJ Advance Media for, August 8, 2015. Accessed August 9, 2018. "'I was born in Atlantic City, at the hospital there, and raised in Ocean City until I was 12 years old.' Burnley explained his family moved to Pennsylvania when he was 12 due to an increase in taxes at the shore town."
  7. ^ "Breaking Benjamin Underground". The Shallow Bay. Retrieved 2011-11-02.
  8. ^ "DdirtRockforrecovery". Harddrive. Retrieved 2013-04-21.
  9. ^ "Ben Burnley, Breaking Benjamin Interview on" Check |url= value (help). November 22, 2004. Retrieved 2010-03-02.[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ 12 maart 2008. "Tour Gaming with Breaking Benjamin". YouTube. Retrieved 2010-03-02.
  11. ^ "Breaking Benjamin . • . interviews . • . . • . • . . • . • . this is where rock stars SPEAK . • . •". Archived from the original on September 15, 2010. Retrieved November 2, 2011.
  12. ^ Kory Grow (May 10, 2010). "Breaking Benjamin's Benjamin Burnley on Wet Brain and Motorcycle Accidents – Revolver Magazine". Retrieved 2011-11-02.
  13. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on April 23, 2013. Retrieved June 18, 2012.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  14. ^
  15. ^ Alternative Press (June 17, 2015). "10 Things You Didn't Know About Breaking Benjamin" – via YouTube.
  16. ^ Boozeman, Phil. "Breaking Benjamin Vocalist Really Hates the Star Wars: Battlefront Video Game". MetalSucks. Retrieved 2018-02-09.
  17. ^ Parlock, Joe. "Breaking Benjamin's Benjamin Burnley Breaks Battlefront". Destructoid. Retrieved 2018-02-09.
  18. ^ Makuch, Eddie. "Singer Who Destroyed Star Wars Battlefront Disc and Called Game "Piece of Sh*t" Still Hates It". Retrieved 2018-02-09.