Steve Earle

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Steve Earle is one of the most well-known musicians in the United States. He is the leading musician in the country today, with over three decades of experience and a protégé of great songwriters Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark. He popularized the folk and country music genres, as well as the neo-traditionalist country music movement. What’s fascinating is that Steve Earle never totally followed the conventions of either country or rock music, instead creating music that defied both genres’ mainstream. Surprisingly, he was able to build a cult following among listeners of both country and rock music. Earle began his musical career as a composer in Nashville in 1982. He published his debut EP during this time. In 1986, he published his first album, ‘Guitar Town.’ Despite the fact that drugs and personal issues halted his career for a while, he returned with renewed vigor and zest. He has fourteen studio albums, fourteen Grammy nominations, and three Grammy trophies to his name. Travis Tritt, Vince Gill, Shawn Colvin, and Emmylou Harris are among the artists that have recorded his tunes. He has also appeared in films and television, as well as written a novel, a play, and a collection of short tales.

Childhood and Adolescence

Steve Earle was born in Fort Monroe, Virginia, to Jack and Barbara Thomas Earle. His father worked as an air traffic controller. He was one of four siblings. He spent the majority of his childhood in San Antonio, Texas. He’s been musically inclined since he was a child, and he first picked up his guitar when he was 11 years old. He had mastered the stringed instrument in just two years, placing third in a school competition.

He walked out of school at the age of 16 and relocated to Houston with his uncle, who was also a musician, after being inspired by famed folk-rock musicians Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark, and Woody Guthrie. He finally met his idol, Van Zandt, in Houston, and he became his role model.

Career of Steve

He relocated to Nashville, Tennessee, in 1974. During the day, he worked different odd jobs to make ends meet, and at night, he dedicated his time to music. Guy Clark’s CD “Old No 1” had him writing songs and playing bass guitar.
In 1975, he appeared in the film ‘Heartworn Highways’ as a cameo. He even got a job as a staff songwriter with Sunbury Dunbar, a publishing company.

He briefly returned to Texas and promptly formed ‘The Dukes,’ a band. His stay in Texas, however, was brief, as he returned to Nashville and began working as a songwriter for publishers Roy Dea and Pat Clark. Carl Perkins eventually sang his song ‘Mustang Wine,’ which he originally wrote for Elvis Presley. Later, he co-wrote ‘When You Fall in Love’ with John Scott Sherrill, which was recorded by Johnny Lee. On the country charts, it reached number 14 for the first time.

He released an EP called ‘Pink & Black’ in 1982. The EP was delivered to Epic Records, which signed Earle to a contract the following year. He also secured a record deal with CBS and made a ‘neo-rockabilly album’ in 1983.
He signed a seven-record agreement with MCA Records after completing his Epic Records obligations. ‘Guitar Town,’ his first full-length album, was published in 1986. The record was a commercial success and received favorable reviews. He was also nominated for two Grammys as a result of it.

Following the success of his debut album, he released ‘Early Tracks,’ a compilation of early recordings, in 1987, and ‘Exit 0’, a collaboration with Dukes. ‘Early Track’ was well received, but ‘Exit 0’ won him his third and fourth Grammy nominations. ‘Copperhead Road,’ his next album, was published in 1989. This record, in contrast to his earlier musical endeavors, has a strong rock bent. In the United States, it did mediocre business, but it was better-marketed and received in the United Kingdom.

In 1990, he released the album ‘The Hard Way,’ which further launched him into the realm of rock music. The album included heavy rock music and was followed up with a live CD, ‘Shut Up And Die Like An Aviator,’ in 1991. It was also the last album released under his MCA Records deal.

He suffered through a period of creative drought once his contract with MCA expired. He didn’t record a single tune, thereby withdrawing from the scene. Barbara Behler, John Dotson, and Mark Brown issued an in-house CD named ‘Uncut Gems’ in 1994, which contained a collection of his unreleased and unrecorded tracks. The songs were later recorded by well-known Nashville performers.

With the publication of ‘Train’ A Comin’ in 1995, the music sabbatical came to an end. The CD signaled his return to folk music, as he had done in the past. It was well-received, and he garnered his sixth Grammy nomination for it.
He started his own record company, ‘E-Squared Records,’ in 1996, and released the album ‘I Feel Alight.’ The album’s composition was unique in that it combined elements of country, rock, and rockabilly music.

In 1997, he released ‘El Corazon,’ his next scheduled release. He received his sixth Grammy nomination for the album, which was issued on his own record company. The album was even dubbed the “capstone” of his comeback by critics. With the album ‘The Mountain’ with Del McCoury Band, he made a journey into bluegrass influenced music in 1999, which was a time of discovery and experimentation for him. Despite being his first foray into the genre, the album was warmly received, earning him a Grammy nomination for the seventh time.

For this gifted musician, the new century began on a high note with the release of his album, ‘Transcendental Blues,’ which featured a blend of bluegrass, rock, and Irish music. He received his eighth Grammy nomination for the album.

He released the album “Jerusalem” in 2002, which publicly aired his Marxist ideas as well as anti-war and anti-death sentence emotions. The next year, he released ‘Just an American Boy,’ a live CD. He published the album ‘The Revolution Starts Now’ in 2004, which featured a selection of songs inspired by the Iraq war and George W. Bush’s policies. In the category of Best Contemporary Folk Album, it ultimately brought him his first Grammy Award.

He aired a radio show on Air America from 2004 to 2007. In the meanwhile, he contributed to a cover of Randy Newman’s song “Rednecks” in 2006. ‘Washington Square Serenade,’ his twelfth studio album, was published in 2007. It was the first time he used digital audio recording on an album. It also earned him a Grammy nomination for Best Contemporary Folk Album, which he won for the second time. ‘Townes,’ a tribute CD, was released in 2009.

Townes Van Zandt wrote 15 of the songs on the album. The album was well-received both financially and critically, and it helped him win his third Grammy for Best Contemporary Folk Album. With the release of his first novel and fourteenth studio album, both titled ‘I’ll Never Get Out Of This World Alive,’ he became a writer in 2011.

Achievements & Awards

He has had fourteen Grammy nominations in various categories, winning three for ‘The Revolution Starts Now,’ ‘Washington Square Serenade,’ and ‘Townes’ in the category of Best Contemporary Folk Album. Rolling Stone magazine awarded him Country Artist of the Year in 1986.

In 2004, BBC Radio 2 in the United Kingdom presented him with the Lifetime Achievement Award for Songwriting.
He received the Shining Star of Abolition award from the National Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty in 2010. In the same year, he was nominated for an Emmy Award in the category of Music and Lyrics for the song “This City,” which he wrote for the television show Trem. He received an honorary doctorate from the City University of New York (CUNY) School of Law in 2011.

Personal History and Legacy

He has married seven times, two of them were to the same woman. Sandra “Sandy” Henderson, Cynthia Dunn, Carol-Ann Hunter, Lou-Anne Gill, Teresa Ensenat, Lou-Anne Gill, and Allison Moorer are among his spouses.
He has three children from his marriages to Carol-Ann Hunter, Lou-Anne Gill, and Allison Moorer.

In 1993 and 1994, he was caught and sentenced to a year in prison for possessing heroin, cocaine, and a firearm. He then entered a rehabilitation facility, where he completed his therapy. He is a political activist who has repeatedly expressed his opposition to capital punishment, which he believes to be his main field of political engagement.

Estimated Net Worth

Steve Earle has a $5 million net worth as an American musician, producer, actor, and book. Steve Earle, who was born in Hampton, Virginia, in 1955, began playing the guitar before he was 12 years old and ran away from home a few years later to chase down his idol, guitarist Townes Van Zandt.


He was a multi-Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter who appeared on HBO’s ‘The Wire’ and ‘Treme,’ among other shows.