Biography: Steve Earle

Attention: open in a new window. PrintE-mail

Steve Earle is is a troubadour and a troublemaker - as well as our featured artist for this week's Live in Texas!


Earle is of Irish descent.


Born January 17th, 1955, in Virginia, Earle is not a native Texan, but he got here as fast as he could.  Moving to Texas before the age of two, he grew up around San Antonio and took to music at a young age.  By the 9th grade, he had dropped out of school and moved to Houston to pursue his dream of being in the music business.  At the age of 20, Earle made his way to Nashville where he started working with his mentors Guy Clark and Townes Van Zandt.  Clark got him a gig as a songwriter and soon Earle's songs were being performed by artists like Johnny Lee, Carl Perkins, Vince Gill, and Patty Loveless.  Several of his songs he wrote during this period that went on to be hits include "A Little Bit in Love", "When You Fall in Love", and "A Far Cry from You".  Earle, when not writing, made his bones by playing in Clark's backing band.


Earle's debut album was one of the first country albums to be recorded digitally.


In 1986, after an aborted attempt at producing a rockabilly album, Earle released Guitar Town.  His official debut album would be a critical success (#1 on the US Country Charts) and would be certified gold.  His next albums, Exit 0 and Copperhead Road, would reach #15 and #7 on the US Country Charts, respectively.  Although Earle had officially made it, the success and money took him down a dark road as his drug use became more prevalent and outrageous.  By the release of his 1990 album The Hard Way, his heroin use had taken over his life and he discontinued touring.  The next four years would see his addiction spiral out of control and ultimately land him in jail.


Earle suffered from heroin addiction and was jailed on drug and firearm charges.


Earle's stint behind bars changed him.  By his release in 1994, he had kicked his heroin habit and had new material ready to go.  He released a new album in 1995 called Train a Comin' , which would be nominated for a Grammy Award for the Best Contemporary Folk Album of the year despite its lack of charting.  Earle would release two more albums during the 90's, I Feel Alright and El Corazon, both of which would make the Billboard Top 200.


Earle has drawn from all kinds of western music, including rock, country, folk, and jazz.


The 2000s were arguably the most successful for Earle - not only did all five of his studio albums make the US Country Top 20, he would be featured as an actor in the HBO series The Wire as well as in the movie Leaves of Grass.  His politics came to the forefront as well - he hosted a show on the now defunct Air America network and publicly opposed the War on Terror, US involvement in Iraq, and the presidency of George W. Bush.


As of 2012, Earle still tours worldwide and is busier than ever!


The last couple of years have not seen any slowdown from Earle.  He released a novel in 2011 called I'll Never Get Out of this World Alive and released an album with the same name (which reached #4 on the US Country Charts).  He is currently married to his sixth wife, Allison Moorer, who he had a child with in 2010.  He also has a son from a previous marriage, Justin Townes Earle, who is a musician in his own right.  You can read more about Earle at his homepage here.



(1986) Guitar Town - #1

(1987) Exit 0 - #15

(1988) Copperhead Road - #7

(1990) The Hard Way - #100

(1991) Shut Up and Die Like an Aviator

(1992) BBC Radio 1 Live in Concert

(1995) Train a Comin'

(1996) I Feel Alright - #106

(1997) El Corazon - #126

(1999) The Mountain (with the Del McCoury Band) - #19

(2000) Transcendental Blues - #5

(2001) Together at the Bluebird Cafe (with Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark)

(2002) Jerusalem - #7

(2003) Just an American Boy - #43

(2004) The Revolution Starts Now - #12

(2004) Live from Austin, TX

(2006) Live at Montreux 2005

(2007) Washington Square Serande - #10

(2009) Townes - #6

(2011) I'll Never Get Out of This World Alive - #4


Songs on KBEC 1390:

"Copperhead Road"

"Goodbye's All We Got Left" - #8

"Guitar Town" - #7

"Hillbilly Highway" - #37

"I Feel Alright"

"Nowhere Road" - #20