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John Wesley Harding Biography

Home > Music > H > Harding, John Wesley > Biography

Genres: Alternative/Indie, Folk, Pop, Rock

Wesley Stace was born on October 22, 1965 in Hastings, East Sussex, England and is is a folk/pop singer-songwriter and author who is known by his stage name John Wesley Harding. Harding has called his style of music “folk noir” and “gangsta folk.” Under his real name, he has published three novels and continues to both write music and literature. Harding taught himself to play guitar as a child by picking out the songs of John Prine, Loudon Wainwright, and Bob Dylan and learning to play them from ear. He began writing on his own lyrics and music as a teenager. In 1988, he cut short his Ph.D. studies at Cambridge University to pursue a career in music.

Harding most often plays solo, or as a duo, but has also done concerts with various backing bands: The Good Liars, The Family Values, The Radical Gentlemen and band in NYC called The English UK. His work includes "I'm Wrong About Everything", which was included on the soundtrack for High Fidelity. He has also covered the Madonna song, "Like a Prayer". Harding has released 15 albums, including 2009's “Who Was Changed and Who Was Dead,” which he recorded with The Minus 5. And he recorded a new album, “The Sound Of His Own Voice” with The Decemberists in 2011.

Harding's first big break came when he was chosen by Bruce Springsteen as his first opening act in twenty years for his solo shows at the Berkeley Community Theatre in 1995. Shortly thereafter, Harding was offered an opening slot for John Hiatt, which generated interest from Demon Records and a solo record deal. Hardings debut album, “It Happening One Night” was released in 1988, which lead to work with producer Andy Paley in 1990 to record “Here Comes The Groom” which was put out by Sire Records. Harding then embarked on a U.S. tour to support the record. By the end of the 1990's Harding had parted ways with Sire Records and signed with Zero Hour to release “Awake,” and shortly thereafter released “Confessions of St. Ace” in 2000.

Harding then took some time off from music and focused on his writing career, publishing his first novel, “Misfortune,” in 2005. The novel was nominated for the 'Guardian First Book Award', and shortlisted for the 'Commonwealth Writers Prize' and the 'James Tiptree, Jr. Award.' His 2005 album “Songs of Misfortune” is comprised of songs written for, or appearing in, that book. His second novel, “By George,” was published in August 2007; it was one of the New York Public Library's "Books To Remember" of 2007, and Booklist Editor's Choice for books of the year. A third, “Charles Jessold, Considered as a Murderer” was published by Jonathan Cape in the U.K .in July 2010 and Picador in the U.S. in 2011. After Harding's hiatus from music he returned with his twelfth studio album to the delight of eager fans.