Soul Asylum is an alternative rock band formed in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1983. They are best known for their double-platinum album Grave Dancers Union (1992), and their Grammy Award-winning single "Runaway Train." They have sold over 3 million copies of their albums in the United States.
The roots of Soul Asylum are in the group known as Loud Fast Rules, formed fresh out of high school in 1981 by teenagers Dave Pirner (songwriter, lead vocals and guitar), Dan Murphy (guitar), and Karl Mueller (bass) who was with the group until his death in 2005. Shortly before the group signed with Twin/Tone Records in 1984, they had changed their name to Soul Asylum. They released their debut album, Say What You Will, Clarence...Karl Sold The Truck, in 1984 and quickly developed a core following and became known for their powerful, dynamic stage shows.
After playing a series of acoustic shows in the early 1990's they were picked up by Columbia Records. Soul Asylum made its label debut at Columbia in October 1992, with Grave Dancers Union, produced by Michael Beinhorn (known for his work with Red Hot Chili Peppers) and featuring Booker T. Jones (of the MG’s) on keyboards. The album became their most popular and was destined to change the band’s career – forever. On January 20, 1993, the group performed at the first inauguration of United States President Bill Clinton. The next year, Pirner won the Grammy Award for Best Rock Song of the year for "Runaway Train." The album rose to #11 on the Billboard 200 where it spent 76 weeks and was certified double-platinum.
The music video for "Runaway Train" featured photographs and names of missing children in a public service video style. At the end of the video, Pirner appears and says "If you've seen one of these kids, or you are one of them, please call this number" before a missing children telephone helpline number appeared. For use outside the USA, the video was edited to include photos and names of missing children from the area the video would be used. The video was instrumental in reuniting several children with their families.
Soul Asylum’s 1995 release, Let Your Dim Light Shine, saw the track "Misery" reach the Top 20, followed in 1998 by Candy from a Stranger which would be their last studio album on Columbia Records.
In May 2004, bassist Karl Mueller was diagnosed with throat cancer and underwent treatment. Mueller’s diagnosis hastened the band’s resolve to commit another album together. His insistence on finishing the record became the driving force behind (and in front of) its completion. Mueller recorded his last Soul Asylum album that year (2006's The Silver Lining). However, the cancer later returned, and he died at his home on June 17, 2005.
Renewed and revitalized, Soul Asylum founders Dave Pirner and Dan Murphy returned to rock’s front line with the July, 2006 release of The Silver Lining, their first studio release of new material in 8 years since Candy from a Stranger. The Silver Lining, Soul Asylum’s ninth full-length album is every bit as quirky and off-centered cut-to-the-bone rock as their fans have come to expect, an indication that the Minneapolis-bred band has lost none of its edge hardcore
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