Birthplace: Fort Monroe, Virginia
Earle's unwillingness to be defined as either a rock or a country musician prevented him from breaking into the mainstream but earned him a cult status instead. Born in Virginia but raised in Texas, he dropped out of school at an early age. At 19, he arrived in Nashville where he played in various bands and was a staff song writer for a division of RCA from 1975 to '78. Elvis Presley was to record his “Mustang Wine” but never showed up for the session. Earle's own album, Guitar Town (1986), earned him his first two Grammy nominations. That year he was also voted Country Artist of the Year by Rolling Stone readers. Copperhead Road (1988) and The Hard Way (1990) marked a shift toward rock, the former winning Earle a European audience, the latter reflecting Earle's escalating drug and emotional problems. Drug free in 1994, his next few albums were a mix of country, rock, and rockabilly. Transcendental Blues (2000) earned him his tenth Grammy nomination. In 2001, he published a collection of short stories, Doghouse Roses. Married six times, he has two sons and a step-daughter.