Before forming the Dream Syndicate, Wynn played guitar in the Davis, California-based band The Suspects, whose members included vocalist Kendra Smith (who later played bass in the Dream Syndicate), Russ Tolman and Gavin Blair (who would form True West); in 1979 they released a single, "It's Up to You" b/w "Talking Loud." Two years later, under the name 15 Minutes, he self-released another single, "Last Chance for You" b/w "That's What You Always Say" (later performed by the Dream Syndicate), which owed much to Joy Division.
Though they were popular with critics, an influence on other musicians, and signed briefly to a major label, The Dream Syndicate were never really commercially successful. They did establish, however, the fan base on which Wynn built his solo career.
Since 1990, Wynn has released a number of albums exploring various musical styles. His first solo album, Kerosene Man, included backing work by bassist Fernando Saunders (a frequent sideman of Lou Reed, to whom Wynn was often compared early in his career), drummer D.J. Bonebrake from the L.A. punk band X, Howe Gelb of Giant Sand and saxophonist Steve Berlin from Los Lobos. Peter Buck, from R.E.M., played on its follow-up, Dazzling Display, and co-wrote the title song. Backing on Melting in the Dark (1996) was provided by the Boston band Come.
Here Come the Miracles (2001) was his best-selling solo album to date, and the best-reviewed, appearing at year's end on numerous critical Top Ten lists.
In 1985, Wynn wrote a collection of songs with Dan Stuart of Green on Red, and recorded and released them as Danny and Dusty. In the '90s he was a part of the indie supergroup Gutterball along with Stephen McCarthy of The Long Ryders, Bob Rupe of The Silos and Cracker, and Bryan Harvey and Johnny Hott of House of Freaks.
The double CD From a Man of Mysteries: A Steve Wynn Tribute was released by the German label Blue Rose in 2004 and features Wynn's songs performed by the likes of Concrete Blonde, the Silos, Chuck Prophet, The Minus 5 and others.
Wynn is at present more popular in Europe than in the United States. While domestic tours are rare, he continues to perform regularly overseas.
Steve allows the recording and trading of his live concerts and some of the recordings are available from the Live Music Archive at archive.org (see link).
On August 26, 2007 Wynn debuted a new band, Hazel Motes, at Magnetic Fields in Brooklyn, NY. The line-up consists of Steve Wynn, Linda Pitmon, Steve Espinola and NY based band the Teenage Prayers. The band's My Space page describes them as "A whiskey-fueled rock and roll gospel band whose spiritual furor is matched only by it’s self destructive dark side."
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