Today is the 34th birthday of Dave Pirner, lead singer and songwriter of
Minneapolis-based Soul Asylum, the post-punk indie band that had its 15
minutes of rock superstardom in the early '90s when it scored a #1 hit with "Runaway Train."
Pirner's first band was the
Minnesota punk-band the Shitz. When this band split, he formed Loud Fast
Rules, Soul Asylum's original name. The original lineup circa 1981 featured
Dan Murphy on guitars, Karl Mueller on bass and Pat Morley on drums. Soul
Asylum's 1984 EP, Say What You Will ... Everything Can Happen on
Twin Tone, was an intriguing mixture of punk-rock and country. It was
as a full-length album in 1986, Say What You Will, Clarence ...
Karl Sold The Truck. In 1985, Morley was replaced by Grant Young,
who participated in the band's next album, Made To Be Broken
(1986). Though the music remained thrashy rock, Pirner was developing
as a sensitive, talented lyricist. Still, these records were overshadowed by early
releases of fellow Minnesotans Husker Du and the Replacements, who
condescendingly dubbed Soul Asylum as "the B-teamers."
A&M Records took notice of the band, however, and signed Soul Asylum in
1987; their major-label debut was 1988's Hangtime, which
featured the fan-favorite "Cartoon." With 1990's Soul Asylum and The
Horse They Rode In On, the band lost its indie cachet and A&M lost
interest. Bandmembers revisited their day jobs and a depressed Pirner
spent time as an outpatient in a psychiatric hospital. He also began
writing acoustic material and gigged for a short time in the Midwest
with Murphy as Murphy and Pirfinkle. Columbia Records signed a
regrouped Soul Asylum in 1992, and the group released Grave Dancers
Union. Initially, the album sold slowly. But the third single, "Runaway Train,"
went to #1 and garnered the band international acclaim and fame, eventually
sending the album into the multi-platinum zone. Pirner became a
rock poster-boy and began making the Hollywood scene, dating actress
Winona Ryder. He also participated in the soundtrack to "Backbeat," the
1994 film chronicling the Beatles' years with bassist Stuart Sutcliffe.
Young was replaced by Sterling Campbell for Soul Asylum's follow-up album,
1995's Let Your Dim Light Shine. Though it hit the U.S. top 10 and the
HREF="http://www.addict.com/music/Soul_Asylum/Misery.ram">"Misery"(RealAudio excerpt), made the top 20, the album quickly faded. Pirner
contributed vocals in 1996 to On Golden Smog, an album by Murphy's
side group, Golden Smog. Soul Asylum's next album, Candy From A
Stranger, is due in May. While he played on the new disc, Campbell
subsequently left the band after the album's recording. Ex-Cruzados skinsman
Charlie Quintana played a few shows with them early in the year, but a
definitive replacement hasn't been announced.
Other birthdays: Bobby Vinton, 63; Dusty Springfield, 59; Gerry Rafferty
(Stealers Wheel), 51; Paul Buchanan (Blue Nile), 42; Jimmy Osmond, 35 ... Roy