Beck Hansen was born Bek David Campbell on July 8, 1970 in Los Angeles, California. His father David Campbell was a popular composer and scientologist and his mother Bibbe Hansen was an artist. His parents separated while Beck was young and he chose to live with his mother and brother in LA.
During his childhood, Beck began exploring music and learning different instruments. He dropped out of high school in the middle of the 1980s and took to traveling worldwide. He made a stop in Germany, where he met his grandfather, Al Hansen, who was an artist. In the late 1980s, he moved to New York City, where he joined the anti-folk music movement.
In 1990, he returned to Los Angeles and was forced to work a variety of dead-end jobs to get by. At one point he was so destitute that he lived in someone's woodshed. In his free time, he continued to explore music and snuck onto stages at different venues in the city.
In 1993, he was discovered by Bong Load Custom Records, who released his single "Loser" on 12" vinyl. Although the initial press was only 500 copies, it managed to gain radio attention and ended up becoming a massive hit single on the billboard charts. Soon Beck was being fought over by different record labels, with Geffen eventually winning the right to publish his first album. As part of his contract, Beck ensured that he would be allowed to release independent records simultaneously.
In 1994, Beck released his first album, "Mellow Gold". The album sold amazingly and established him as the representative of the slacker movement in alternative rock. The music on this first album was very bizarre and ranged from bizarre synth sounds to mellow acoustic guitar tracks. Critics began calling him a "one hit wonder" and doubted whether he would have continued success in music.
That same year, he released an independent album, entitled "Stereopathetic Soulmanure". The album was published by Flipside Records and proved to be an underground novelty. He also released a third album, "One Foot in the Grave", which was mostly acoustic, but went unnoticed by mainstream fans.
In 1996, Beck released his epic album "Odelay". While recording, he worked closely with the Dust Brothers, who had previously produced the Beastie Boys. The album received perfect reviews by Rolling Stone and Spin magazines and became known as one of the best albums of all time. It also spawned numerous hit singles, including "Where It's At", "Devil's Haircut", and "The New Pollution". At that year's Grammy awards, Beck also received two awards for the album.
In 1998, Beck released "Mutations", which was a radical departure from the previous albums. The songs were much more mellow and had more of a blues sound to them. The album sold well and established him as a versatile music artist, unlike many others who stuck with a generic sound throughout their careers.
In 1999, Beck released an album entitled "Midnite Vultures". The album was a truly bizarre mix of highly energetic songs centering around sex and fashion, featuring the songs "Sexx Laws" and "Debra". While on tour for the album, Beck collided on stage with his bass player and was slightly injured, but recovered after a short stay in the hospital.
In 2002, Beck released "Sea Change", which was very similar to his prior work on "Mutations". The album was one of the top 10 selling albums in the United States on its release and received a great deal of critical acclaim. The album featured string arrangements composed by his father, David Campbell.
In 2004, Beck married his girlfriend Marissa Ribisi, who is an actress and screenwriter. She is also a scientologist and the twin sister of actor Giovanni Ribisi. They have had one child, a son named Cosimo Henri Hansen.
In 2005, Beck released his follow-up to "Odelay", "Guero". The album reunited him with the Dust Brothers and has some of the same musical style found on the prior album. It was met with a lot of critical praise and became the fastest selling album of his career. It has currently spawned three singles, including "E-Pro", "Girl", and "Hell Yes".