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
Musical career
  • Vocals
  • guitar
Labels Hollywood
Associated acts Breaking 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]

Rock music is a broad genre of popular music that originated as "rock and roll" in the United States in the early 1950s, and developed into a range of different styles in the 1960s and later, particularly in the United States and the United Kingdom. It has its roots in 1940s and 1950s rock and roll, a style which drew heavily from the genres of blues, rhythm and blues, and from country music. Rock music also drew strongly from a number of other genres such as electric blues and folk, and incorporated influences from jazz, classical and other musical styles. Musically, rock has centered on the electric guitar, usually as part of a rock group with electric bass, drums, and one or more singers. Usually, rock is song-based music usually with a 4/4 time signature using a verse–chorus form, but the genre has become extremely diverse. Like pop music, lyrics often stress romantic love but also address a wide variety of other themes that are frequently social or political.

Breaking Benjamin American alternative rock band

Breaking Benjamin is an American rock band from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, formed in 1999 by lead singer and guitarist Benjamin Burnley and drummer Jeremy Hummel. The first lineup of the band also included guitarist Aaron Fink and bassist Mark Klepaski. This lineup released two albums, Saturate (2002) and We Are Not Alone (2004), before Hummel was replaced by Chad Szeliga in 2005. The band released two more studio albums, Phobia (2006) and Dear Agony (2009), before entering an extended hiatus in early 2010 due to Burnley's recurring illnesses.

Hollywood Records, Inc. is an American record label of the Disney Music Group. The label focuses in pop, rock, alternative, hip hop, and country genres, as well as specializing in mature recordings not suitable for the flagship Walt Disney Records label. Founded in 1989, its current roster includes artists such as Jordan Fisher, Zella Day, Queen, Zendaya, Ocean Park Standoff, Dreamers, Bea Miller, Martina Stoessel, Breaking Benjamin, Jorge Blanco, Sabrina Carpenter, R5, Olivia Holt, Sofia Carson, Forever in Your Mind, New Hope Club, Joywave, Maddie Poppe, ScaryPoolParty and In Real Life. The label also releases Marvel Studios's soundtrack and compilation albums in conjunction with Marvel Music.


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]

A tenor is a type of classical male singing voice whose vocal range lies between the countertenor and baritone voice types. It is one of the highest of the male voice types. The tenor's vocal range extends up to C5. The low extreme for tenors is roughly A2 (two As below middle C). At the highest extreme, some tenors can sing up to the second F above middle C (F5). The tenor voice type is generally divided into the leggero tenor, lyric tenor, spinto tenor, dramatic tenor, heldentenor, and tenor buffo or spieltenor.

Death growl voice type

A death growl is a vocal style usually employed by death metal singers but also used in other heavy metal styles, such as metalcore. Death growls are sometimes criticized for their "ugliness". However, the harshness of death growls is in keeping with death metal's abrasive music style and often dark and obscene subject matter. The progressively more forceful enunciation of metal vocals has been noted from heavy metal to thrash metal to death metal.

<i>IGN</i> American entertainment website

IGN is an American video game and entertainment media website operated by IGN Entertainment Inc., a subsidiary of Ziff Davis, itself wholly owned by j2 Global. The company is located in San Francisco's SOMA district and is headed by its former editor-in-chief, Peer Schneider. The IGN website was the brainchild of media entrepreneur Chris Anderson and launched on September 29, 1996. It focuses on games, films, television, comics, technology, and other media. Originally a network of desktop websites, IGN is now also distributed on mobile platforms, console programs on the Xbox and PlayStation, FireTV, Roku, and via YouTube, Twitch, Hulu, and Snapchat.

Life and career

Early life and career beginnings

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.

Atlantic City, New Jersey City in Atlantic County, New Jersey, U.S.

Atlantic City is a resort city in Atlantic County, New Jersey, United States, known for its casinos, boardwalk, and beaches. In 2010, the city had a population of 39,558. It was incorporated on May 1, 1854, from portions of Egg Harbor Township and Galloway Township. It borders Absecon, Brigantine, Pleasantville, Ventnor City, Egg Harbor Township, and the Atlantic Ocean.

Ocean City, New Jersey City in Cape May County, New Jersey, U.S.

Ocean City is a city in Cape May County, New Jersey, United States. As of the 2010 United States Census, the city's population was 11,701, reflecting a decline of 3,677 (-23.9%) from the 15,378 counted in the 2000 Census, which had in turn declined by 134 (-0.9%) from the 15,512 counted in the 1990 Census. In summer months, with an influx of tourists and second homeowners, there are estimated to be 115,000 to 130,000 within the city's borders.

Snyder County, Pennsylvania County in the United States

Snyder County is a county in the U.S. state of Pennsylvania. As of the 2010 census, the population was 39,702. The county seat is Middleburg. Snyder County was formed in 1855 from parts of Union County.

Breaking Benjamin

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.

Lifer is an American rock band from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania. They were active from 1999 to 2002, releasing their sole full-length album through the major label Universal Music and Republic Records.

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]

Three Days Grace Canadian rock band

Three Days Grace is a Canadian rock band formed in Norwood, Ontario in 1997. Based in Toronto, the band's original line-up consisted of guitarist and lead vocalist Adam Gontier, drummer and backing vocalist Neil Sanderson, and bassist Brad Walst. In 2003, Barry Stock was recruited as the band's lead guitarist, making them a four-member band. In 2013, Gontier left the band and was replaced by My Darkest Days' vocalist Matt Walst, who is also the younger brother of bassist Brad Walst.

Evans Blue Canadian band

Evans Blue is a Canadian rock band from Toronto, Ontario, Canada founded in 2005. Altogether, they have sold over one million albums worldwide, including five studio albums and one live album.

Disturbed (band) American heavy metal band

Disturbed is an American heavy metal band from Chicago, formed in 1994. The band includes vocalist David Draiman, guitarist/keyboardist Dan Donegan, bassist John Moyer and drummer Mike Wengren. They have had very few lineup changes, with Donegan and Wengren being the 2 remaining original members. Former band members are vocalist Erich Awalt, and bassist Steve Kmak. The band has released seven studio albums, five of which have consecutively debuted at number one on the Billboard 200. Disturbed went into hiatus in October 2011, during which the band's members focused on various side projects, and returned in June 2015, releasing their first album in four years, Immortalized, on August 21, 2015. They also recorded and released one live album, Disturbed: Live at Red Rocks on November 18, 2016, which was recorded on August 18, 2016, at Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colorado, located about 10 miles west of Denver, Colorado. Their seventh studio album, Evolution, was released on October 19, 2018.

Personal life

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 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]

Related Research Articles

Adam Gontier former lead singer and songwriter of Three Days Grace

Adam Wade Gontier is a Canadian singer, songwriter and musician. He is the lead singer, rhythm guitarist, and main songwriter for Saint Asonia, but is best known as the former lead singer and rhythm guitarist of the Canadian rock band Three Days Grace. Gontier left Three Days Grace on January 9, 2013. In addition to his work with Three Days Grace, he has been involved in collaborations with other bands including Art of Dying and Apocalyptica.

Blow Me Away single by Breaking Benjamin

"Blow Me Away" is a song by American rock band Breaking Benjamin. The song is a non-album single, because it was written in 2004 specifically for the Halo 2 Original Soundtrack. It was later released in 2010 as a digital single. In 2011, a remixed version of the song was released on Shallow Bay: The Best of Breaking Benjamin, featuring vocals of Sydnee Duran from Valora. Written by vocalist and guitarist Benjamin Burnley and then-drummer Jeremy Hummel, the song is described as featuring "hard rock roots, ... a vocal-centric aesthetic, heavy electric rhythm guitars", and "an aggressive male vocalist".

Give Me a Sign 2010 single by Breaking Benjamin

"Give Me a Sign", or as listed on charts and the single "Give Me a Sign ", is the second single by American rock band Breaking Benjamin's 2009 album Dear Agony.

<i>Phobia</i> (Breaking Benjamin album) 2006 studio album by Breaking Benjamin

Phobia is the third studio album by American rock band Breaking Benjamin. It was recorded at The Barbershop Studios in Hopatcong, New Jersey, and released on August 8, 2006, through Hollywood Records and in Europe on November 21, 2007.

Chad Szeliga American musician

Chad Szeliga is an American drummer and percussionist from Elyria, Ohio. Formerly the drummer for the band Breaking Benjamin, he joined Black Label Society in 2013, replacing Mike Froedge. In 2017, he replaced Jimmy DeGrasso in Black Star Riders.

The Diary of Jane 2006 single by Breaking Benjamin

"The Diary of Jane" is a song by American rock band Breaking Benjamin. It was released in June 2006 as the lead single from their third album, Phobia. The song, one of their most notable and successful, is the fastest added single ever in the history of Hollywood Records. It gained a massive amount of radio play throughout the United States and reached number one under three rock charts. The single was certified 2× Platinum in the United States on November 24, 2015, and is their most successful single in terms of sales based on this in their home country.

<i>Breaking Benjamin</i> (EP) 2001 EP by Breaking Benjamin

Breaking Benjamin is the self-titled debut extended play (EP) by American rock band Breaking Benjamin. The EP was released in 2001 around the band's hometown of Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, where all 2,000 copies sold out in the weeks following its release. All five tracks were re-recorded for the band's major label debut album, Saturate (2002).

Breath (Breaking Benjamin song) Song by Breaking Benjamin

"Breath" is a song by American rock band Breaking Benjamin. It was released in January 2007 as the second single from their third album, Phobia. It was the band's fourth charted song on the US Hot 100 overall, and the second from Phobia. Although "Breath" failed to capture the pop success of "The Diary of Jane" at No. 50 where "Breath" hit No. 84 on the Billboard Hot 100, it was more successful on the rock charts where it hit No. 1 on the US Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, making it Breaking Benjamin's first number-one hit, staying there for seven weeks where "The Diary of Jane" hit No. 2 and it also hit No. 3 on the US Modern Rock Tracks chart, tying with "So Cold" as their highest-charting single on the chart where "The Diary of Jane" hit No. 4. The single was certified platinum by the RIAA in 2015.

Until the End (Breaking Benjamin song) 2007 single by Breaking Benjamin

"Until the End" is a song by American rock band Breaking Benjamin. It was released in October 2007 as the third single from their third album, Phobia. On February 11, 2014, "Until the End" was certified gold by the RIAA, which made the single the then-most commercially successful song by the band. Since then, the band have been awarded with more platinum and gold singles, and two double platinum singles.

<i>Dear Agony</i> 2009 studio album by Breaking Benjamin

Dear Agony is the fourth studio album by American rock band Breaking Benjamin. It was released on September 29, 2009. A Best Buy edition, Japanese import version, and Zune exclusive version were also released, all of which feature bonus content. This is the last album to contain work from all featured band members except Benjamin Burnley due to the legal issues between Burnley and the two members Aaron Fink and Mark Klepaski during 2011, and drummer Chad Szeliga departing in 2013 over creative differences.

I Will Not Bow 2009 single by Breaking Benjamin

"I Will Not Bow" is the first single by American rock band Breaking Benjamin's 2009 album Dear Agony. It was featured in the ending credits of the Bruce Willis film Surrogates. The song was not written specifically for the film, but according to drummer Chad Szeliga, "Ben sent a few songs to our record label, Hollywood Records," which is owned by Disney, who then decided they "wanted a Breaking Benjamin song for this movie." The song was also being used heavily on MLB Network as lead-in and lead-out music during the 2010 MLB postseason.

Breaking Benjamin discography

The American rock band Breaking Benjamin has released six studio albums, one compilation album, three extended plays, 20 singles and 15 music videos. The group has sold over seven million units in the United States alone, with three platinum records, two gold records, two multi-platinum singles, two platinum singles, and five gold singles as designated by the RIAA. The band signed with Hollywood Records in 2002 following the success of their independently-released eponymous EP, and began recording their first full-length major-label debut Saturate shortly thereafter. The record peaked at number two on the US Top Heatseekers chart and number 136 on the US Billboard 200. It was certified gold more than 13 years later. The band's sophomore effort, We Are Not Alone, released in 2004, peaked at number 20 on the US Billboard 200, and was later certified platinum in the United States and gold in New Zealand. Breaking Benjamin's third studio album Phobia was released in 2006 and reached number two on the US Billboard 200, number one on the US Digital Albums chart, number one on the US Top Rock Albums chart, and was certified platinum nearly three years after its release. Breaking Benjamin released their fourth record in late 2009 titled Dear Agony, reaching number one on the US Top Hard Rock Albums and US Top Alternative Albums charts, number two on the US Top Rock Albums and US Digital Albums charts, and number four on the US Billboard 200. The record was certified gold three months after its release and was eventually certified platinum seven years later.

<i>Shallow Bay: The Best of Breaking Benjamin</i> 2011 greatest hits album by Breaking Benjamin

Shallow Bay: The Best of Breaking Benjamin is the first greatest hits album by American rock band Breaking Benjamin, released on August 16, 2011 by Hollywood Records. The album features every single released by the band from 2002's Saturate to 2009's Dear Agony, with the exception of the 2010 digital single version of "Blow Me Away"; instead featuring the remix of that track featuring vocals of Sydnee Duran of Valora. A two-disc deluxe version was released alongside it, featuring remastered versions of B-sides, covers, acoustic performances, live recordings, and other rarities. Shallow Bay debuted at number 22 on the US Billboard 200, and sold an initial 13,700 copies. It topped the US Top Hard Rock Albums chart for three consecutive years, from 2011 to 2013, and also reached number four on the US Top Alternative Albums and US Top Rock Albums charts for 2011.

<i>Dark Before Dawn</i> 2015 studio album by Breaking Benjamin

Dark Before Dawn is the fifth studio album by American rock band Breaking Benjamin, released on June 23, 2015, by Hollywood Records. It is the group's first studio album following the band's hiatus lasting from early 2010 to late 2014, and the first album to feature an entirely different lineup alongside founder and frontman Benjamin Burnley. Produced and composed by Burnley, the album took shape towards the end of the hiatus and was mostly written before the new lineup "even played a single note together." The recording process took place afterwards at both a personal studio of Burnley's and at the same studio Phobia (2006) was recorded, with all of the band members performing their respective instruments, including background vocals performed by guitarist Keith Wallen and bassist Aaron Bruch, making the record their first to feature vocals other than Burnley's.

Defeated (Breaking Benjamin song) 2015 song performed by Breaking Benjamin

"Defeated" is a song by American rock band Breaking Benjamin. It was released as an airplay-only single on May 12, 2015 from the band's fifth studio album Dark Before Dawn.

"Never Again" is a song by American rock band Breaking Benjamin, released on January 20, 2017 as the fifth single on the band's fifth studio album Dark Before Dawn. The song topped the Billboard Mainstream Rock Songs chart in 2017, the third song from the album to do so, behind "Failure" and "Angels Fall".

<i>Ember</i> (album) 2018 studio album by Breaking Benjamin

Ember is the sixth studio album by American rock band Breaking Benjamin, produced by lead singer and guitarist Benjamin Burnley. It was released by Hollywood Records on April 13, 2018. The first single, "Red Cold River", was released on January 5, 2018. Four additional songs were released prior to the album's release, including "Feed the Wolf", "Blood", "Psycho", and "Save Yourself". A music video for "Torn in Two" was released on the same day as the album, and was released as the second single on May 29, 2018. On December 13, 2018, a music video for "Tourniquet" was released, and was released as the third single on December 18, 2018.

"Torn in Two" is a song by American rock band Breaking Benjamin. It was their second single off of their album Ember. It topped the Billboard Mainstream Rock Songs chart in September 2018, outperforming the album's first single, "Red Cold River", which peaked at number two on the chart.


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