Ben Mink

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Benjamin Mink (born January 22, 1951) is a Canadian songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and producer, best known as a long-time collaborator with Canadian singer k.d. lang. [1] He plays several string instruments, notably the guitar, violin and the mandolin, and is a music producer.


Early life and career

Born to Polish parents who were Holocaust survivors, [2] Mink was raised in Toronto, Ontario. He got his start performing with the rock/country group Mary-Lou Horner, which became the house band at "The Rockpile" bar and nightclub. [3] They opened for Led Zeppelin and Muddy Waters, along with being a backup band for Chuck Berry. [4]

Mink was a member of the bands Stringband, Murray McLauchlan's Silver Tractors, FM [5] and The Blazing Zulus. [6]

Mink is best known as a long-time collaborator with Canadian singer k.d. lang, whom he met at Expo '85 while doing a gig with CANO. [7] [8] Mink has performed on, along with co-writing and producing several of her albums, which often combine voice with string arrangements. [9] Mink subsequently performed as violinist, guitarist, and mandolinist with lang's band, the Reclines. A performance for the Grammy nominated album Ingenue, was recorded as part of the MTV Unplugged series at the Ed Sullivan Theater, New York City, December 16, 1992 (aired in 1993). [10]

Mink was interviewed about his songwriting collaboration with Lang as for the British television South Bank Show in 1996. [11]

Mink was invited to play electric violin on the Rush song "Losing It" from the band's 1982 album Signals and contributed strings to the song "Faithless" from the 2007 album Snakes & Arrows . He also co-wrote, produced and played guitar on My Favourite Headache (2000), a solo project of Rush's lead singer Geddy Lee. [12] [13] [14]

Mink has also produced and/or performed on recordings by the Barenaked Ladies, Anne Murray, Dan Hill, Mendelson Joe, Prairie Oyster, Raffi, Jane Siberry, Ian and Sylvia Tyson, Valdy, Bruce Cockburn, Murray McLauchlan, [15] Willie P. Bennett, Susan Aglukark, Methodman, Alison Krauss, Feist, Daniel Lanois, Sarah McLachlan, Roy Orbison, Elton John and Heart.

Mink was also responsible for the movie soundtrack to Fifty Dead Men Walking . [16] which has since received numerous awards and nominations including a 2010 Genie Award nomination for Best Achievement in Music – Original Score, and a 2009 Leo Award for Best Musical Score for a Feature Length Drama. The television soundtracks for Terminal City. and Alice ., [17] both garnered Leo Awards. Confessions of an Innocent Man, a shocking, heart-wrenching story about British-Canadian engineer William Sampson, won a 2007 Gemini Award for Best Biography Documentary Program. In 2011, the TV series Glee used Ben's composition "Constant Craving", from the 1992 album Ingenue, [18] in the seventh episode of the third season for its closing number, (performed by Chris Colfer, Idina Menzel and Naya Rivera).

He co-produced Red Velvet Car for Heart's Ann and Nancy Wilson, released in the fall of 2010 [19] and appeared onstage in the band's concert video Night At Sky Church. [20] Mink was back at the helm as producer of Heart's 2012-2013 album Fanatic which included the single "Walkin Good" featuring Sarah McLachlan. and again appeared onstage in the band's concert video Fanatic Live From Caesars Colosseum. Mink co-produced and performed on Feist's Grammy nominated hit single "1-2-3-4", playing strings and guitars. [15]

Mink has lectured on such topics as "The Music Business vs. the Creative Process," at the University of British Columbia, Western Washington University and Simon Fraser University. He has also worked with students as an associate of UBC's Department of Mechanical Engineering (robotics) and is an associate member of the Institute for Computing, Information & Cognitive Systems. In 2006 Mink delivered the introductory speech for k.d. lang's Governor General's Performing Arts Award induction at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa. He has also contributed to the Library and Archives Canada [21]

Mink is a member of the Black Sea Station, a North American klezmer supergroup. Their debut recording, Transylvania Avenue, is produced by Mink, and was released on Rounder Records in the Fall of 2010 as a digital download. [22] He's also produced other klezmer musical acts in the past such as Finjan, The Klezmatics [23] and Chava Alberstein. [24] [25]

Mink is one of few people to ever share a songwriting credit with Mick Jagger and Keith Richards. In 1997 Mink and k.d. lang were co-credited as songwriters on the Rolling Stones single "Anybody Seen My Baby?". Mink and Lang were given credit before the song was released because Jagger/Richards felt the chorus was very similar to "Constant Craving", written by lang and Mink in 1992.

In 2014 The Knowledge Network's "Take Me Home" series presented a short biographical film on Ben Mink. Mink has one solo recording - the hard to find 1980 release, "Foreign Exchange", on Passport Records. [1] Originally recorded by Daniel Lanois and produced by Allan Soberman, It has been re-mastered for January 2015 digital release.

On June 19, 2015, Mink performed "Losing It" with Rush at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, as part of the band's R40 Live Tour. The song had never been played live in any previous tour.


In 1990, Mink was first co-nominated with lang for a Best Country Song Grammy for Torch and Twang's "Luck in My Eyes". Subsequently, as a producer and writer, he has been nominated in total for nine Grammies, winning twice for his work with lang.

He has received seven Juno nominations, winning three times between 1993–94, as well as two Genies Awards (Best Original Score for "50 Dead Men Walking") and three Leos (Best Musical Score 2006-10).

He also holds the SOCAN William Harold Moon Award for International Recognition.

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  3. Quill, Greg - "Led Zeppelin's Toronto memories" - Toronto Star
  4. "Chuck Berry - The Rock Pile -May 15, 1969" -
  5. David Weigel. The Show That Never Ends: The Rise and Fall of Prog Rock . W. W. Norton; 13 June 2017. ISBN   978-0-393-24226-3. p. 161–.
  6. "Ben Mink - FM Fiddle Flash" - Frets Magazine - Jan 1982
  7. "Lunching with Bonzai - k.d. and Ben Mink - Food For Thought" Archived 2011-06-21 at the Wayback Machine - Mix Magazine - Jan 1996
  8. "Life Is a Highway: Canadian Pop Music in the '90s" - CBC Doc Zone
  9. The New Rolling Stone Album Guide . Simon and Schuster; 2004. ISBN   978-0-7432-0169-8. p. 474–.
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  11. "Tube and Twang" The Advocate . Here Publishing; 6 February 1996. ISSN   0001-8996. p. 56–.
  12. "Roland Interviews Ben Mink" - Reverb Roland Canada
  13. Sharken, Lisa - "Rush RX for my Favorite Headache" -
  14. Martin Popoff. Rush - Updated Edition: The Unofficial Illustrated History . Voyageur Press; June 2016. ISBN   978-0-7603-4995-3. p. 81–.
  15. 1 2 Bernie Finkelstein. True North: A Life Inside the Music Business . McClelland & Stewart; 2012. ISBN   978-0-7710-4793-0. p. 186–.
  16. Schaefer, Glen - "Ben Mink is movie music king" Archived November 18, 2011, at the Wayback Machine - Victoria Times Colonist
  17. Brodsky, Katherine - "The go-to music people" -
  18. Babette Babich. The Hallelujah Effect: Philosophical Reflections on Music, Performance Practice, and Technology . Routledge; 16 March 2016. ISBN   978-1-317-02955-7. p. 180–.
  19. Ragogna, Mike - "Red Velvet Car: A Conversation With Heart's Ann & Nancy Wilson, Plus Introducing Theo Shier" - Huffington Post
  20. "Legacy Recordings Releasing Heart's 'Night At Sky Church,' an Electrifying Full-Length Live Concert Film, Available Everywhere Tuesday, March 8, 2011" -
  21. "Ben Mink fonds" - Library and Archives Canada
  22. "The Black Sea Station" Archived 2017-09-29 at the Wayback Machine - The Black Sea Station Website
  23. The Mix . Vol. 22, Issues 7-12. Mix Publications; 1998. p. 214.
  24. Boehm, Mike - "A New Tap on Yiddish Tradition" - Los Angeles Times
  25. "The Klezmatics & Chava Alberstein Biography" -