Paul Thorn

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Paul Thorn
Thorn at The Grand in Wilmington, Delaware, 2008
Thorn at The Grand in Wilmington, Delaware, 2008
Background information
Birth namePaul Wayne Thorn
Born (1964-07-13) July 13, 1964 (age 56)
Kenosha, Wisconsin, U.S.
OriginTupelo, Mississippi, U.S.
GenresAmericana, Southern rock, Country, Blues, Blues rock
InstrumentsVocals, guitar
Years active1997–present
LabelsA&M Records, Perpetual Obscurity

Paul Wayne Thorn (born July 13, 1964) is an American Southern rock, country, Americana, and blues singer-songwriter,[1] whose style is a mix of blues, country, and rock.[2]


Thorn was born in Kenosha, Wisconsin, United States, but raised in Tupelo, Mississippi after a family move when he was an infant.

Before his professional music career began he was a professional boxer where he established a respectable 14-4 record.[3] Boxing career highlights include winning the Mid-South Middleweight Championship in Memphis, Tennessee and culminated with a nationally televised bout with former world champion Roberto Durán,[1] After a few years of working in a Tupelo furniture factory and playing in local clubs he was discovered by music professional Miles Copeland (brother of The Police drummer Stewart Copeland).

In 1997, while performing at a singer-songwriters night at a local pizza shop (Vanelli's), Roger Sovine representing BMI overheard Thorn and was impressed with his singing and song writing ability. He asked Thorn if he had his permission to share his name with other record companies in Nashville. A couple weeks later, Thorn called vOz Vanelli (owner of Vanelli's) and mentioned that several record companies were coming to Tupelo to hear him perform. Thorn asked if he could come and play at Vanelli's which vOz agreed to. After hearing Thorn perform, Wyatt Easterling (an associate of Miles Copeland III) brought Thorn to Nashville and within thirty days, Thorn opened for Sting. Thorn was subsequently signed to a recording contract with A&M Records and recorded his first album, Hammer & Nail, in 1997. He left A&M soon after and followed Hammer & Nail with thirteen more albums, all self-released and self-produced with his writing and production partner, Billy Maddox.

Thorn's 2010 album Pimps and Preachers debuted at No. 83 on the Billboard 200 chart, his highest chart position to date. His 2012 album What the Hell Is Going On was the 12th Most Played Album of 2012 on the Americana Music Association Year-End Chart.[4] What the Hell Is Going On was Thorn's first album to feature the songwriting of other artists[5] and the second record of his to debut on the Billboard Top 100 during its first week of release.[6]

Thorn has toured as an opening act for Huey Lewis & the News, Sting, John Prine, Marianne Faithfull, Mark Knopfler, Robert Cray, Bonnie Raitt, Jerry Jeff Walker, Toby Keith and Jeff Beck.

In 2014, Thorn released Too Blessed to Be Stressed, which he described as a collection of "positive anthem songs."[7] "I wrote these songs hoping they might put people in a positive mindset and encourage them to count their own blessings, like I count mine," Thorn observes. "There's no higher goal I could set for myself than to help other people find some happiness and gratitude in their lives."[5]

In March 2018, Thorn released an album, titled Don't Let the Devil Ride, featuring several covers of gospel songs that were inspiration to him during his youth and adolescence.[8] The album features several prominent artists in that genre such as the Blind Boys of Alabama, The McCrary Sisters, Bonnie Bishop, and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.[8] The album peaked at No. 1 in the Billboard Blues Albums Chart.[9]

Later that month, the Mississippi House of Representatives named March 27 'Paul Thorn Day' in recognition of Paul's constant support of his home state.[10] On May 7, 2018, Mississippi Public Broadcasting premiered a special featuring Paul's current tour titled "Mission Temple Fireworks Revival,"[11] which features special guests such as the Blind Boys of Alabama, The McCrary Sisters, Bonnie Bishop, and the Preservation Hall Jazz Band.

In 2019, Paul Thorn's lead electric guitarist of 30 years, Bill Hinds, parted ways with the band. In a statement on Paul's website, Hinds explains that he is starting a new chapter in his life but will remain a musician.[12] Bill's spot in the Paul Thorn Band has been filled by Chris Simmons, a guitarist from Alabama, who played in Leon Russell’s band for 5 years.

In May of 2020, multi-Grammy award winning vocalist and pianist Diane Schuur released an album featuring a cover of Thorn’s “Everybody Looks Good at the Starting Line.”[13]

Tales & Ales[edit]

On February 1, 2019, Paul released the first episode of his interview and performance style video series, Tales & Ales. Since then, the show has featured several artists including John Oates, John Paul White, Foy Vance, Tommy Emmanuel, and Kingfish.[14]


Studio albums[edit]

Title Details Peak chart positions
US Rock
US Heat
US Indie
Hammer and Nail
Ain't Love Strange
  • Release date: July 27, 1999
  • Label: Ark Records
Live at Short Street Package Store[19]
  • Release year: 2000
  • Label: Perpetual Obscurity
Mission Temple Fireworks Stand
  • Release date: August 13, 2002
  • Label: Narada/Perpetual Obscurity
Are You With Me?[19]
  • Release date: 2004
  • Label: Back Porch
So Far So Good: Best of the Paul Thorn Band Live[19]
  • Release year: 2005
  • Label: Perpetual Obscurity
A Long Way from Tupelo
  • Release date: February 19, 2008
  • Label: Perpetual Obscurity
191 7 27
Pimps and Preachers
  • Release date: June 21, 2010
  • Label: Perpetual Obscurity
83 24 12
What the Hell Is Goin' On?
  • Release date: May 8, 2012
  • Label: Perpetual Obscurity
88 31 12
Too Blessed to be Stressed
  • Release date: August 19, 2014
  • Label: Perpetual Obscurity
92 27 15
Don't Let the Devil Ride
  • Release date: March 23, 2018
  • Label: Perpetual Obscurity
"—" denotes releases that did not chart


  1. ^ a b "Paul Thorn Biography". Artists A to Z. Great American Country. Archived from the original on March 3, 2012. Retrieved July 23, 2010.
  2. ^ Crossley, Jennifer (September 24, 2009). "Ready to jam". Times Daily. Florence, AL. Retrieved July 23, 2010.[permanent dead link]
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Bernie Williams, Ruthie Foster, Susan Tedeschi and More Join The Allman Brothers Band". Retrieved January 30, 2013.
  5. ^ a b "Bio—Paul Thorn". Paul Thorn. Retrieved August 2, 2016.
  6. ^ Corbett, Stephen (July 18, 2012). "Tupelo's Paul Thorn". Archived from the original on February 16, 2013. Retrieved January 30, 2013.
  7. ^ from an interview on the Americana Music Show #212, published September 25, 2014.
  8. ^ a b "Paul Thorn Revisits His Gospel Roots". NPR. Retrieved April 7, 2018.
  9. ^ "Blues Music: Top Blues Albums Chart". Billboard. Retrieved April 7, 2018.
  10. ^ Bobby Harrison. "Mississippi House honors Tupelo's Thorn". Retrieved May 22, 2018.
  11. ^ "MPB : Mississippi Public Broadcasting". Retrieved May 22, 2018.
  12. ^ Hinds, Bill (May 15, 2019). "A Farewell From Guitarist Bill Hinds".
  14. ^ "PAUL THORN'S "TALES & ALES": A bi-weekly video series featuring Paul Thorn trading stories with a wide range of guests. Sponsored by Lagunitas Brewing Co". Retrieved January 16, 2021.
  15. ^ "Paul Thorn Album & Song Chart History – Billboard 200". Billboard. Retrieved January 30, 2013.
  16. ^ "Paul Thorn Album & Song Chart History – Rock Albums". Billboard. Retrieved January 30, 2013.
  17. ^ "Paul Thorn Album & Song Chart History – Heatseekers Albums". Billboard. Retrieved October 17, 2010.
  18. ^ "Paul Thorn Album & Song Chart History – Independent Albums". Billboard. Retrieved October 17, 2010.
  19. ^ a b c "Paul Thorn". discogs. Retrieved April 7, 2018.

External links[edit]