Get Into the Groove of Ben Smith
Ben Smith, is a prolific and accomplished drummer who has played live and in studio with Ann and Nancy Wilson in the Legendary Band Heart from 1995-2017.
In 2016 Ben formed a new band ROADCASE ROYALE with Nancy Wilson of HEART and former PRINCE Vocalist Liv Warfield. ROADCASE ROYALE includes Chris Joyner on keys, Dan Rothchild on bass, and Ryan Waters on guitar.
In addition to HEART, led by Ann and Nancy Wilson, Ben has worked live and in studio with countless other gifted artists including Taj Mahal, Cyndi Lauper, Lovemongers, Pete Droge, Don Gilmore, Tracy Nelson, BoyMeetsGirl, Deniece Williams, Peter Frampton, P.F. Sloan, Cornelius Bumpus, Danny O’Keefe, Sugar Pie de Santos, and with Jazz, Blues, and New Age legends such as Nancy Wilson, Ernestine Anderson, Glenn Alexander, Phoebe Snow, The Songcatchers, Kenny G, and banjo prodigy Danny Barnes.
Roadcase Royale! 2017 Release “Get Loud”
Heart’s 2016 Release “Beautiful Broken”
Ben Plays with Heart at the 2013 Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony
Ben was captivated by a great beat at the early age of five, when he went to see his dad’s friend “Uncle Frank” perform for the first time with their community Scottish Pipe and Drum band in San Francisco. At that moment, he knew he wanted to be a drummer. Fast-forward to today, Ben is one of the most respected and talented musicians worldwide.
Drawn in by the rhythm and the music, Ben was inspired during his years at Garfield High School in Seattle. Playing in the school’s stage band, he was introduced pop, funk, and soul which was trending at that time. This didn’t deter Ben’s teacher Clarence Acox from introducing the band to jazz artists like Miles Davis and Freddie Hubbard, which had a profound impact on Ben’s music career. At 15, he began playing with artists at local cocktail lounges and nightclubs. Inevitably, his work at Seattle hot spots introduced him to renowned musicians who became his mentors, band-mates and friends.
Driven by a fierce desire to grow as an artist, Ben worked with his mentors to expand his musical horizons, leading to the rediscovery of a variety of genres which continue to inspire and influence his music today.
From the Stage to the Studio
As a young performer, Ben moved to New York where his friend Paul Anderson suggested that he play with vocalist/songwriter Gene McDaniels, who took him under his wing. Gene introduced him to Ted Brancato, Carrie Coltrane, Libby Torrance, and other significant artists in the scene. They wrote and recorded songs for various projects over several years including film work for Michel Legrand, recordings for jazz artist Nancy Wilson, and many others.
It was also in this era that singer/songwriter Phoebe Snow acknowledged Ben’s talent as an accompanist for vocalists, leading to 3 years of collaboration while he was doing side projects in the jazz scene. His time in New York was cut short when Ben chose to move back to the West Coast to take care of family. Opportunely, Seattle was the right place to be for rock music, and Ben loves to rock!
I Heart Rock
It was fate that Ben began performing rock legends Ann and Nancy Wilson in 1994 with their band LOVEMONGERS, including founding members Frank Cox and Sue Ennis. Their first CD together, “Home Alive” was a compilation in support of organizations fighting violence against women and led to some very busy LOVEMONGERS years.
Ben made the most of this opportunity on tour playing drums for LOVEMONGERS as well as their opening act Elaine Summers. Ben has had the honor of rocking with HEART ever since.
Television & Film
An appearance with HEART on The RuPaul Show, kicked off a long career of television and live concert broadcasts, including Jimmy Fallon’s The Tonight Show, Conan O’Brian, The Ellen DeGeneres Show, The Today Show, The Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Jimmy Kimmel Live! and many others.
During this time, Ben worked with HEART in studio and on concert tours, sharing the stage with DEF LEPPARD, JOURNEY, CHEAP TRICK, SHAWN COLVIN, TODD RUNDGREN, JOAN JETT AND THE BLACKHEARTS and other legendary acts, including HEART’s newest album on Concord Music Group titled, “Beautiful Broken”. The album was released in the Summer of 2016, and produced by Dan Rothchild and Nancy Wilson.
It was the long term collaboration with the Wilson sisters that led to a new chapter in Ben’s musical journey. Nancy Wilson was composing, performing and producing music for movies and she knew Ben could bring just the right rhythm. He showcased that rhythm in the legendary Cameron Crowe film, “Almost Famous”.
The film also features songs and music recorded by Peter Frampton and Mike McCready of PEARL JAM and included songs by the band STILLWATER, with drum parts recorded by Ben. The compilation soundtrack for this film received a Grammy award, and Cameron Crowe received a 2001 Oscar for Best Screenplay for this film.
Ben continued working with Nancy Wilson on Cameron Crowe’s psychological thriller, “Vanilla Sky” starring Tom Cruise, Cameron Diaz, and Penelope Cruz. The movie included the song, “I Fall Apart” sung by Cameron Diaz. Next up was the soundtrack for Crowe’s Drama/Comedy, “Elizabethtown” starring Orlando Bloom, Kirsten Dunst, and Susan Sarandon.
Other projects include feature films such as, “The Great Buck Howard” featuring composer Blake Neely, “Smoke Signals”, “Around the Fire”, “Skins”, and “Mod Squad” with composer BC Smith as well as “High Water” with composer Phil Marshall.
Entertainment on Tap
Ben’s entertainment collaborations went on to include live CDs and DVDs performing with HEART and working with various labels and producers. Ben participated in drumming projects for producer Don Gilmore; various recordings for producer/writers Pete Droge and Elaine Summers; TV music and concert dates with Peter Himmelman; recording with new artist Saint Claire; performing and recording with Glenn Alexander, Tracy Nelson, Boy Meets Girl, producer Thom Bell, songwriter and producer George Merrill, songwriter and guitarist Paul Allen, Danny O’Keefe, and Danny Barnes.
He worked on various projects for producer Mark Wolfson; performed