Ben’s father was Tom Paley, founder member of the New Lost City Ramblers. His mother is Claudia Gould, a fine singer with a deep involvement in folk music. His stepfather, Ron Gould, is a guitarist and was a prominent skiffler with a very great and wide knowledge of a whole range of music, particularly jazz and folk music. So Ben grew up hearing a wide variety of very interesting music. He wanted to take up the fiddle from the age of six, and was given strong encouragement. He did not think of life as a performer until he was in his early 20s.