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Dave Pirner (born David Pirner, April 16, 1964, Green Bay, Wisconsin, United States) is an American singer, best known for being the lead vocalist for the band, Soul Asylum.



By the time he was 17, Pirner was living and working in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He taught himself how to play the drums. By age 20, Pirner started his career drumming with a punk band called Loud Fast Rules as part of the Minneapolis scene, together with Karl Mueller (bass) and Dan Murphy (guitar). When Pirner switched to singing and playing rhythm guitar, Pat Morley joined on drums. Morley was later replaced by Grant Young, and the band changed their name to Soul Asylum. The band achieved big-time success with the single "Runaway Train" off their 1992 album Grave Dancers Union. Their other big hit from the album was "Black Gold", and the album went on to sell more than two million copies.

As Soul Asylum became more popular, Pirner decided to do guest appearances on different albums of artists including Paul Westerberg, Mike Watt and The Autumn Defense.

By 1999, Soul Asylum went into hiatus, after making 1998's Candy from a Stranger, which sold the fewest number of copies of the three (which included Grave Dancers Union and Let Your Dim Light Shine (1995), which yielded the big hits "Misery" and "Just Like Anyone"). But after four years, Soul Asylum got back together and started writing songs in the studio. Bassist Karl Mueller died on June 17, 2005, at the age of 42 from esophageal cancer. About a year after his death, Soul Asylum released their most recent album The Silver Lining on Legacy Recordings, which was dedicated to Mueller. About half the songs on the album were recorded with the late bassist, such as "Lately", "Slowly Rising" and "Standing Water". The first hit from this album was "Stand Up And Be Strong". Soul Asylum toured with their new line-up, which consisted of Pirner on guitar and vocals, Dan Murphy on lead guitar, Michael Bland on drums and Tommy Stinson on bass (as well as John Fields standing in on bass and piano for Mueller).

Pirner became noteworthy for his personal life as much for his music. He dated the film celebrity, Winona Ryder, and subsequently made a cameo appearance in her 1994 film Reality Bites. Pirner was also a part of the all-star band assembled for the soundtrack of the 1994 film Backbeat. A misunderstanding of the lyrical content in Primus's hit single "Wynona's Big Brown Beaver" led to a short rivalry with Les Claypool (which Claypool was not aware of until the topic was brought up in an interview). Pirner also contributed to the soundtrack of Kevin Smith's 1997 film Chasing Amy. The song "Can't Even Tell" is featured in Clerks, Smith used the song "Misery" in the sequel, Clerks II.

In 2002 Pirner released his first solo album entitled Faces & Names on Ultimatum Music. He also contributed guest vocals on the song "Chillout Tent" in The Hold Steady's 2006 release, Boys and Girls in America.

Pirner now resides in Bywater, New Orleans, Louisiana, where he is part of a music collective doing recording and production work.

Radio host Eddie Trunk said in an episode of Vh1 Classic turntables that Pirner was a songwriter he marveled.


Faces & Names, (2002), (Ultimatum Music)


  • Pirner can be heard swearing at the Minneapolis police, who are breaking up a warehouse party at the beginning of The Replacements' "Kids Don't Follow."[1]
  • Pirner produced the album, Coup De Grace", by the Minneapolis metal band the Coup de Grace in 1990.


External links



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