Steve Earle (born January 17, 1955) is a singer-songwriter best known for his country music and rock 'n roll tinged "alt-country." He is also a published writer, a keen political activist (particularly in protesting against the death penalty in the U.S., as in his song "Ellis Unit One" from the movie Dead Man Walking), and has written and directed a play. Steve also had a small role as a recovering addict on the HBO television show "The Wire".
In 1975, he moved to Nashville and worked as a songwriter. In the early days, he recorded with Guy Clark and Emmylou Harris. He finally scored a country hit in 1981, writing Johnny Lee's top ten cut "When You Fall In Love." Earle's early work as a performer tended towards the rockabilly sound, popular at the time. In 1986, his first proper album Guitar Town was a critical and commercial success. It sold over 300,000 copies and led some to herald him as a saviour of country music.
Earle long struggled with drug abuse. His addiction eventually caused a departure from performing and recording after he was dropped by MCA in 1991. Whilst in jail on drug and firearm charges, he kicked the habit and returned to music after his release in 1994.
Earle's "second, post-jail, musical career" has been more stylistically diverse than his early material, dipping in acoustic, bluegrass, and roots rock sounds. I Feel Alright and Transcendental Blues met with good reviews and decent sales. 2002's somewhat controversial Jerusalem was one of the first albums to directly address the September 11 attacks. It brought Earle's leftist views to media attention, especially the song "John Walker's Blues."
His latest album of original material I'll Never Get Out Of This World Alive was released in 2011. Songfacts reports that one of the tracks, This City, got played on HBO’s New Orleans based show Treme several months before the album‘s release. Earle, who plays a recurring street musician, composed the song especially for the drama series.
Earle has also released a tribute album of material written by friend and mentor Townes Van Zandt, entitled Townes.
For more information and photographs of Steve Earle go to his official website, www.SteveEarle.com.
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