A lot of kids are raised in musical families, but few had the introduction to music that Ben Kweller had. Nils Lofgren was one of Kweller's father's buddies during Lofgren's days with Bruce Springsteen. Young Kweller, not even old enough for kindergarten at the time, would try to be like the famous guitarist when he picked up his own toy version of the instrument. He played the piano since his very early childhood and by the age of eight had graduated from toy guitars and simply tapping the ivories to penning his own tunes. The following year, he received a nod of encouragement from Billboard magazine when it conferred an honorable mention on the youth for his entry into its yearly songwriters competition. By the time he hit his teen years, Kweller was accomplished on the guitar and also played the drums. As many teenagers do, he pulled together a band, which he dubbed Mirage. He followed up with groups named Green Eggs & Ham and Foxglove.
In 1993, with Bryan Blur on bass and John Kent on drums, Kweller established Radish. The group made its mark on the local Dallas scene, not far from Greenville, TX, where Kweller was raised. In 1994, the musical wunderkind and his outfit put out the EP Hello through Practice Amp Records. That same year, the label released the album Dizzy. Roger Greenawalt, a producer, stepped into the picture in 1995. He led Radish through the production of a demo that led to the inking of a contract with Mercury during the summer of 1996. The label released Restraining Bolt the following spring, and Kweller led Radish through European and American tours and stops on late-night television talk shows, including The Conan O'Brian Show and Late Night With David Letterman. When Radish disbanded in 1999, Kweller headed east, in the spring, to Guilford, CT, where he stayed only a short time before relocating to Brooklyn, NY, the following November. Not yet 20 years old, he signed with Island Records as a solo artist. He spent time touring with such artists as Juliana Hatfield, Guster, Kristin Hersh, and Evan Dando. He also collaborated with Ben Folds and Ben Lee for a series of dates down under in 2003 and appeared on Folds' limited-edition EP The Bens. Kweller's sophomore effort, the much more subdued On My Way, followed in spring 2004. Two years later, he returned with his self-titled third album, on which he played all the instruments. - All Music Guide