Benjamin Burnley
Benjamin Burnley Dear Agony shoot
Background info
Birth name Benjamin Jackson Burnley IV
Aliases Ben
Born March 10, 1978 (age 35)
Birth place Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, USA
Genre Alternative metal, Post-grunge
Other occupations Musician, singer-songwriter, lyricist, composer, vocalist, guitarist
Associated acts Lifer, Evans Blue, Plan 9, RED, Three Days Grace
Instruments Vocals, guitar
Years active 1998-present
Labels Hollywood Records
Notable instruments
Guitars PRS McCarty II

PRS Custom Baritone

Benjamin "Benny Boy Bob" Jackson Burnley IV (born March 10, 1978)[1] is an American musician, best known for being the frontman, lead vocalist, rhythm guitarist and primary songwriter of the band Breaking Benjamin.


Early careerEdit

Benjamin Burnley was born in Newtown, New Jersey and grew up there, and eventually lived where he spent most of his time in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania. At 18, he dropped out of high school and moved to Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, where he became a roommate of former Breaking Benjamin bass player Jonathan Price. He taught himself to play guitar by listening to Nirvana's Nevermind (he cites Nirvana as his biggest influence). Before Breaking Benjamin was formed, Burnley earned money playing cover songs in various coffee houses as a solo artist. It was during this era that his band got its name—after performing a Nirvana cover, Ben knocked over a microphone (in imitation of his lifelong idol Kurt Cobain) and cracked it. The microphone's owner walked onstage and said, "I'd like to thank Benjamin for breaking my [censored] microphone."[2]

Starting Breaking BenjaminEdit

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 Burnley 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." They recruited old friend Mark Klepaski to play bass, and shortly after, Nick Hoover was then asked to leave the band.

In 1999, Burnley moved back to Pennsylvania, and started a band called "Plan 9" with drummer Jeremy Hummel. Originally the band was a three-piece. The lineup consisted of Burnley on vocals and guitar, Hummel on drums, and Jason Davoli on bass. Plan 9 would occasionally open for Lifer at home shows. During one show, Burnley said "Thank you, we are Breaking Benjamin," and thus reclaiming the name from 1998. Later on, Klepaski left Lifer and began playing bass for Breaking Benjamin. Lifer continued going through struggles, and months later, Aaron Fink sat in for a set with Benjamin. Fink left Lifer, and was offered a spot in Burnley's band, and they became a four-piece.[3]

Acquisition of Chad Szeliga, PhobiaEdit

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Current works, disputeEdit

In mid-2010 Benjamin Burnley stopped his participation and touring with the band indefinitely due to a non-life-threatening illness known as Wernicke–Korsakoff syndrome caused by persistent over-intoxication.[4] Burnley stated that he would continue with his music after dealing with his illness, however further complications arose in 2011 when basist Mark Klepaski and guitarist Aaron Fink were fired from the band via email due to releasing various material on behalf of the band, as well as giving Hollywood Records retroactive permission to record a new version of "Blow Me Away" after the company offered a $100,000 payment without Burnley's consent. Klepaski and Fink would go on to be sued for a $750,000. Benjamin Burnley stated that he would continue making music after the lawsuit was settled.[4] In April 2013, Burnley announced in a social network post that he won the lawsuit and would continue making music under the name of Breaking Benjamin.[5][6] In the same year, drummer Chad Szeliga announced his departure from the band due to "creative differences."[7]

Benjamin Burnley continues writing music for media such as video games, as well as collaborating with close friend Adam Gontier for his solo career, and between them have a song titled "The End of the Day". Burnley also continued doing acoustic shows in late 2013 in various clubs along with close friend Aaron Bruch.

Other collaborationsEdit

Burnley has lent his vocal and songwriting talents to other acts as well. He has performed numerous live duets with fellow alt-rock bands such as Three Days Grace and Evans Blue. He made a guest spot on a special re-mix of The Drama Club's single Brand New Day. He also co-wrote the Red hit song Shadows. Currently, Burnley has been collaborating with former Three Days Grace singer, Adam Gontier, who is planning to release his solo album later in 2013. Together, Burnley and Gontier have written a song titled "The End of the Day".[8]

Smashing Pumpkin's frontman Billy Corgan also co-wrote the titles "Rain", "Follow", "Forget It".

Personal lifeEdit

Burnley suffers from 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.[9] Burnley also suffers from hypochondria and 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 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"). "Diary of Jane" appears on NASCAR 07.[10]

Burnley is a recovering alcoholic, admitting in an interview with 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 aid of alcohol.[12]

He is the fourth Benjamin Jackson Burnley in his bloodline. Before him are his uncle, his grandfather, and his great-grandfather. Burnley's family has owned B.J. Burnley Company since 1967 in Middleburg, Pennsylvania. His uncle, Benjamin Jackson Burnley III, died on June 29, 2010, at the age of 54.[13] The company closed after Burnley III's death.[14]

Burnley is currently in a relationship with Rhiannon Napier. He has a son, B.J. Burnley who is a vocalist and guitarist of the rock band, The Volcanos[15]


  1. Benjamin Burnley on Wikipedia. Retrieved 19 November 2013. (Note reference is subject to change, consider retrieval date).
  2. Burnley, Benjamin. "Breaking Benjamin AOL Sessions Interview" (2008). Retrieved 19 November 2013
  3. Shallow, Bay. "Breaking Benjamin Underground" (empty). Retrieved 19 November 2013
  4. 4.0 4.1, by MICHAEL R. SISAK. "From breaking to broken: The success & failure of Breaking Benjamin" (August 3 2011). Retrieved 19 November 2013
  5. Burnley, Benjamin. "The dispute between Benjamin Burnley and two of the bands ex-members has been resolved. Facebook post." (April 9 2013). Retrieved 19 November 2013
  6. Shallow Bay, Breaking Benjamin. "A message from Benjamin Burnley, Shallow Bay" (April 9 2013). Retrieved 19 November 2013
  7. Szeliga, Chad. "To all my fans of breaking benjamin... Facebook post." (). Retrieved 19 November 2013.
  8. Dirt Rock for Recovery, Harddrive. "DirtRockForRecovery" (). Retrieved 21 April 2013
  9. Leib, Jodi. "Ben Burnley, Breaking Benjamin Interview on" (2004-11-22). Retrieved 2010-03-02
  10. 2008 (Youtube)., 12 maart. "Tour Gaming with Breaking Benjamin" (). Retrieved 2010-03-02
  11., Interview. "Breaking Benjamin . • . interviews . • . . • . • . . • . • . this is where rock stars SPEAK . • . •" (). Retrieved 2011-11-02
  12. Grow, Kory. "Breaking Benjamin’s Benjamin Burnley on Wet Brain and Motorcycle Accidents - Revolver Magazine" (2010-05-10). Retrieved 2011-11-02
  15. Twitter, inc.. "Rhiannon (Rhiannon570) on Twitter" (2014). Retrieved {{{accessdate}}}

External linksEdit

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The Breaking Benjamin Wiki has a collection of images relating to Benjamin Burnley at Benjamin Burnley gallery.