Beck (born Bek David Campbell) was born in Los Angeles, California on July 8th, 1970. His father David Campbell is a Canadian-American arranger, composer and conductor who has worked on over 450 gold and platinum albums. His mother, Bibbie Hansen, was a former Andy Warhol "star".
Beck decided to drop out of high school at the age of 17, focusing on his punk-poet fanzine called "Youthless". In the early 1990's Beck moved to New York City where he performed in the underground punk-poet and anti-folk scene. Beck lived in a shed during these days, supporting himself with a variety of dead-end jobs (which would become the inspiration for a large amount of his early songs, especially on such albums as Mellow Gold and Stereopathetic Soulmanure). Beck released his first studio album in 1993, Golden Feelings. It has been estimated that only 500-750 copies of the album exist, all of them being manufactured on cassette tape.
"Loser" and Rise to Fame
In 1993 Beck was signed to Bong Load Custom Records, a small indie record label. His first single that he released on the label was "Loser", a song Beck was not particularly proud of. Regardless, the song began to get an unexpected amount of radio play. Soon, there was a large bidding war from various music executives, each one wanting Beck on their label. Beck chose to sign with Geffen Records. Interestingly enough, Geffen offered Beck the least amount of money out of any of the labels offering to sign him. Geffen did however offer Beck more creative freedom than any of the other labels, allowing him to release independent albums while under contract (which Beck would do, with the releases of Stereopathetic Soulmanure and One Foot in the Grave).
In 1994 Beck released his album with Geffen, Mellow Gold. The album was a critical and commercial success, having sold 1.2 million copies in the United States alone.
Odelay and Continual Fame
After releasing the independent album One Foot in the Grave in 1995, Beck released his most commercially successful major label album with the release of Odelay in 1996. Beck collaborated on the album with Grammy award winning producers The Dust Brothers, best known for their work with the Beastie Boys and the Fight Club Soundtrack. The album was a huge commercial success, selling 2.3 million copies in the United States alone. The album had numerous hit singles including "Devil's Haircut, "The New Pollution" and "Where It's At", which went on to win the Grammy Award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance.
In 1998 Beck released Mutations, which was not as commercially successful as his previous releases. However, the album was critically acclaimed, with various music critiques praises Beck for being eclectic and innovative. The album won a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Album.
1999 saw the release of Beck's Midnite Vultures, a wildly different sounding album than Beck's previous releases. The album was praised by most critics, achieving an 83 on Metacritic (Universal Acclaim). The album has sold 743,000 copies in the U.S. alone.
Sea Change and 2000's
In 2002, Beck released Sea Change. The album was produced by Nigel Godrich, best known for his extensive work producing Radiohead albums (he is sometimes referred to the 6th member of the band, and is even a member in Thom Yorke's supergroup Atoms for Peace). Sea Change spawned several singles, including "Lost Cause" (which has been prominently featured in many movie soundtracks). The album may be Beck's most critically acclaimed, with many considering it to be his magnum opus. The album was much more sincere than Beck's previous work, eschewing sampling for mostly acoustic songs with straight-forward, personal lyrics. The album is said to be heavily based on Beck's then recent split with a longtime girlfriend. The album was certified as gold in March 2005.
2005 saw the release of Guero, which marked the return of The Dust Brothers as producers of the album. The album was well received and spawned the #1 single E-Pro, Beck's highest charting single in 11 years. E-Pro was a playable song in Rock Band 2. The album was commercially more successful than Sea Change, selling 868,000 copies in the U.S. alone.
In 2007, Beck released the album The Information, which was produced by Nigel Godrich. The album was well received and spawned the single "Nausea", which reached #13 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. However, the album was less commercially successful than previous Beck releases, selling 434,000 copies in the United States.
Beck's 11th studio album was released in 2009, entitled Modern Guilt. The album was produced by Danger Mouse, who may be best known as half of the duo Gnarls Barkley which he formed with Cee Lo Green in 2004. The album spawned the single "Gamma Ray" which reached #19 on the Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart. The album was well received and was nominated for Best Alternative Album at the 51st Grammy Awards, but lost to Radiohead's In Rainbows.
In 2012 Beck contributed numerous songs to the video game Sound Shapes, a musical platformer. The songs include "Cities", "Spiral Staircase", and "Touch the People". "Cities" was nominated for Best Song in a Game for the Video Game Awards.