|After disbanding the Los Angeles new wave/power pop group The Plimsouls, Peter Case launched a career as an important American singer/songwriter specializing in the flat-pick guitar style and semi-autobiographical stories of drifters delivered in a narrative style. Born in the '50s and growing up in upstate New York, Case was inspired, like any number of young men of his generation, by Elvis Presley and The Beatles. He was also a fan of the folk and blues of Mississippi John Hurt, Leadbelly, and Woody Guthrie and as a teenager took to the troubadour's life, playing coffeehouses and busking.
He was discovered on the streets of San Francisco in 1976 by songwriter Jack Lee, with whom he collaborated in The Nerves, a short-lived but influential power pop act. The meeting led to a move to L.A. and the formation of The Plimsouls in 1980. After the group found success with the power pop standard "A Million Miles Away," they called it quits and Case debuted with Peter Case for Geffen in 1986. It was a collection of hard folk songs produced by T-Bone Burnett and included co-writes with Burnett and Case's first wife, Victoria Williams, along with performances by John Hiatt and Roger McGuinn. Case was among a handful of rockers who had been honing his acoustic songs in clubs, helping to launch the so-called "unplugged" movement. In 1989, he released The Man With the Blue Post-Modern Fragmented Neo-Traditionalist Guitar, again with the help of choice musicians like David Hidalgo, Ry Cooder, and Benmont Tench.
In a Rolling Stone interview that year, Bruce Springsteen cited Case as the songwriter he was listening to most at the time. For 1992's Six-Pack of Love, Case chucked the folk aesthetic for something more rock-oriented, but the collection flopped as did his liaison with Geffen. He regrouped and self-released Sings Like Hell, recorded with Marvin Etzioni in a Los Angeles living room in 1993. The strength of that release earned him a new recording contract with Vanguard in 1995 and Case came on strong for Torn Again, his best set of spare songs about lonesome losers since Blue Guitar.
In 1996, The Plimsouls re-formed for some reunion shows and a recording session at the Epitaph Records studios; Kool Trash (Shaky City) eventually saw release in 1998, while Case continued to tour and record as a solo act. In 1997, he hosted a weekly evening for songwriters at Santa Monica's revived Ash Grove folk club. In between releasing two more records for Vanguard, Full Service No Waiting (1997) and Flying Saucer Blues (2000), Case curated a musical program for the Getty Museum in Los Angeles and performed Beatles songs at the Hollywood Bowl with Sir George Martin.
In spring of 2001, he compiled Avalon Blues, a tribute to his hero, Mississippi John Hurt, featuring contributions from Lucinda Williams, Dave Alvin, and Steve Earle for Vanguard; it was nominated for a Grammy in the Best Traditional Folk category. That year he also self-released Thank You St. Jude, a collection of songs from his catalog recorded in solo acoustic arrangements with fiddle. In Fall 2002, he released his ninth solo album `Beeline which combined his rock-folk style with new rhythms and prepared guitar sounds. ~ Denise Sullivan, All Music Guide