Steve Earle (born January 17, 1955) is a country musician who grew up in Schertz, Texas. He was born in Ft. Monroe, Virginia and was the eldest son of an air traffic controller. He dropped out of school in 8th grade to move to Austin, Texas and learn more about the music business. There he met Townes van Zandt who became a mentor and other artists like Jerry Jeff Walker, Lucinda Williams and Nanci Griffith.
In 1975 he moved to Nashville where he met and worked with fellow Texans Guy Clark and his wife Susanna Clark. Guy was instrumental in Steve being employed as a songwriter by the Sunburry Dunbar publishing division of RCA. Steve was one of the backing vocals on Guy's, "Desperados Waiting For A Train" together with Emmylou Harris on Guy's first album Old No 1.
However, despite his early success in gaining a job as a songwriter it was not until 1981 that he achieved a top ten cut with "When You Fall in Love" recorded by Johhnny Lee. He had to wait until 1986 before his first album Guitar Town was released. It was a critical success and sold over 300,000 copies. Steve was named Country Artist of the year for 1986 by Rolling Stone magazine.
As of 2004, he had released the following albums:
1986: Guitar Town
1987: Early Tracks
1987: Exit 0
1988: Copperhead Road
1990: The Hard Way
1991: Shut Up And Die Like An Aviator
1995: Train A-Comin
1996: I Feel Alright
1997: El Corazon
1999: The Mountain
2000: Transcendental Blues
2002: Side Tracks
2004: Just An American Boy (live)
Earle managed to land himself in trouble by writing a song about John Walker Lindh ("John Walker's Blues" on Jerusalem) written from Lindh's perspective (lyrics (http://www.cowboylyrics.com/lyrics/earle-steve/john-walkers-blues-2206.html)). Some critics had trouble comprehending that a songwriter is not necessarily the character they're describing and branded Earle a traitor and a Taliban supporter. The controversy did however manage to raise Earle's profile in the media and didn't seem to damage his record sales in the slightest.
Steve is the subject of a documentary film entitled Just An American Boy (http://www.popmatters.com/music/reviews/e/earlesteve-justanamericandvd.shtml), directed by Amos Poe. He is also the subject of a biography:
Lauren St John, Hardcore Toubadour: The Life and Near Death of Steve Earle, Fourth Estate, 2002 ISBN 1-84115-6116