||This biographical article needs additional citations for verification. (June 2009)|
April 5, 1954 |
Buffalo, New York
|Genres||New wave music, folk rock|
|Instruments||Vocals, guitar, harmonica|
|Labels||Geffen, Yep Roc|
|Associated acts||The Nerves, The Plimsouls|
Case was born in Buffalo, New York and lived in nearby Hamburg, New York. A veteran of several rock bands and the local bar scene as a teenager, Case dropped out of high school when he was fifteen (he would later earn a GED), and after several years of traveling arrived in 1973 in San Francisco, where he performed as a street musician. During this period a documentary about the local music scene, Nightshift, directed by Bert Deivert, captured the young Case on film. In 1976, he teamed up with Jack Lee and Paul Collins in to form the early new wave band The Nerves in San Francisco. The group's 1976 single, "Hanging on the Telephone", was later recorded by Blondie.
When the Nerves disbanded, Case moved to Los Angeles and formed the pop-rock band The Plimsouls in 1979. The Plimsouls found a measure of success when their songs "A Million Miles Away," "The Oldest Story in the World," and "Play the Breaks" were featured in the movie Valley Girl, but by that time the group had already broken up. Case briefly toured with Gurf Morlix, Victoria Williams (Case's first wife), and Warren Tornado Klein as the Incredibly Strung Out Band, but their collaboration never resulted in a record.
Case struck out on his own with a self-titled album released in 1986 on Geffen Records. Produced by T-Bone Burnett and Mitchell Froom, the record included three songs co-written by Burnett and one by Victoria Williams, and also featured the talents of Williams, Morlix, Klein, Mike Campbell (of Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers), John Hiatt, Jim Keltner, Jerry Marotta, Roger McGuinn (of The Byrds), and Van Dyke Parks, among others. One of the songs on the album, "Old Blue Car," was nominated for a Grammy award. Robert Palmer (writer) chose the album as the No. 1 release for 1986 in his year-in-review wrap-up for the New York Times.
In 1989, Case released a second solo disc, The Man With the Blue Post-Modern Fragmented Neo-Traditionalist Guitar, this time with the help of artists like David Hidalgo of Los Lobos, Ry Cooder, and Benmont Tench. While not a major commercial success, the album was a favorite of critics and other musicians: Bruce Springsteen told Rolling Stone magazine that he was listening to Peter Case more than anyone else that year.
In 1992, Case scored a radio hit with the song "Dream About You", which peaked at #16 on the U.S. Billboard Modern Rock charts. After a third album for Geffen, Six Pack of Love, and a live album of cover versions, Peter Case Sings Like Hell, which was released on Case's own Travelin' Light label, Case signed a contract with Vanguard Records. His first Vanguard record, Torn Again, was issued in 1995.
In 1996, the Plimsouls reunited for the first of several reunions. Throughout the '90s and early 2000s, Case continued to release discs as a solo performer, moving in an increasingly acoustic-oriented direction, and playing clubs and small venues. Torn Again was followed by Full Service No Waiting (1998), Flying Saucer Blues (2000), and Beeline (2002) all on Vanguard, in addition to Thank You St. Jude (2001), a self-released CD that featured David Perales on fiddle and background vocals. In a review of Flying Saucer Blues, critic Bill Wasserzieher declared, "I am convinced that nobody of Case's generation writes better songs or does better work in the tradition of Woody Guthrie."
In 2004 Vanguard released Who's Gonna Go Your Crooked Mile, a compilation of tracks from his albums for the label, which also included two previously unrecorded songs, "Wake Up Call" and "My Generation's Golden Handcuff Blues". Both tracks gave evidence of Case's strongly held political convictions.
Case is an active musicologist; in the late 1990s, he curated the musical program for the Getty Museum in Los Angeles. In 2001, he organized, produced, and performed on Avalon Blues, a tribute album to blues music pioneer Mississippi John Hurt, which was nominated for the 2002 Grammy Award for Best Traditional Folk Album. Case also had the chance to perform Beatles songs at the Hollywood Bowl with Sir George Martin. He frequently conducts songwriting workshops in California, where he now resides, and in other locations. Case's solo performances have featured his own compositions as well as covers of songs by Memphis Minnie, Sleepy John Estes, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, and others.
In February 2006, Hungry for Music, a non-profit organization based in Washington, DC, released a three-disc tribute to Case, entitled A Case for Case; the set featured cover versions of Case's songs performed by various artists, including John Prine, Susan Cowsill, and others.
In 2006 Case began posting on his blog sections of a memoir entitled As Far As You Can Get Without a Passport, which was subsequently issued in book form in January 2007 by everthemore books. The memoir covers Case’s very early days from the time he left his native upstate New York and wound up singing and playing on the streets of San Francisco. This period inspired some of his most memorable songs, including "Entella Hotel "and "Travellin’ Light." John Doe, co-founder of the Los Angeles punk band X, contributed an introduction to the book. Case has continued to write and post autobiographical additional material.
On December 6, 2007, Case's Let Us Now Praise Sleepy John was nominated for a Grammy award in the Best Traditional Folk Album category.
In January 2009, Case underwent heart surgery, leading to fund raising efforts by other musicians to help defray his medical costs. Case's latest project, Wig!, is a CD/LP released on June 29, 2010 by Yep Roc Records.
Reunion tribute tour
In 2012, longtime musical partners Peter Case and Paul Collins announced a reunion tour paying tribute to their groups The Nerves, The Breakaways, The Beat and The Plimsouls. The touring band lineup for the Collins and Case tour was augmented by members of The Paul Collins Beat (Timm Buechler, bass, and Amos Pitsch of Tenement (band), drums, and Tim Schweiger, a veteran musician who also tours with Tommy Stinson of The Replacements and Guns N' Roses). According to the L.A. Times Music Blog of March 22, 2012, the tour "fell apart" early due to "musical differences".
- Peter Case, 1986 album
- Fast Folk: Los Angeles, 1988 compilation
- The Man with the Blue Post-Modern Fragmented Neo-Traditionalist Guitar, 1989 album
- Six-Pack of Love, 1992 album
- Sings Like Hell, 1994 album
- Torn Again, 1995 album
- Full Service No Waiting, 1998 album
- Flying Saucer Blues, 2000 album
- Thank You St. Jude, 2001 album
- Beeline, 2002 album
- Who's Gonna Go Your Crooked Mile?, 2004 compilation
- A Case for Case, 2006 tribute album
- Let Us Now Praise Sleepy John, 2007 album
- Wig!, 2010 album
- The Case Files, 2011 outtakes compilation
- "Bomblight Prayer Vigil" Verb, Issue Two (2006)
- As Far As You Can Get Without a Passport (everthemore books) (2007)
- Epistolary Rex (with David Ensminger) (CreateSpace) (2011)
- "Yep Roc Records". Yeproc.com. Retrieved 2012-09-17.
- Palmer, Robert. "The Pop Life: Peter Case Heads a List of the Top Albums of 1986". New York Times, January 7, 1987.
- Billboard, Allmusic
- Wasserzieher, Bill. Blues Revue, December, 2000.
- "Rockers Rally to Help Cover Nerves/Plimsouls Leader Peter Case’s Medical Bills", Rock & Roll Daily (Rolling Stone), March 4, 2009 (retrieved May 1, 2009).
- L.A. Times Music Blog
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Peter Case.|
- Official website
- Case's blog
- As Far As You Can Get Without a Passport
- Peter Case on ArtistDirect
- 2012 Peter Case & Paul Collins Tribute To The Nerves Reunion Tour press release announcement