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Paul Thorn Now Lets His

Music Do The Fighting

Paul Thorn, "It's A Great Day To Whup Somebody's Ass"
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Musician Paul Thorn has forged his own brand of country, gospel, blues and rock music.
Former Professional Boxer Turned Singer/Songwriter Paul Thorn Feigns Labels And Throws A Knockout Right Hook At Engaging, Timeless Rock


By Jeff Moses
Modern Times Magazine

Aug. 9, 2012 — Hailing from Tupelo Miss., the same town as Elvis Presley, singer songwriter Paul Thorn has been performing for crowds since he was 3-years-old in churches with his gospel singing parents.

Music remained a theme in Thorn’s life, coming in to play an even bigger roll in his middle school years.

“I failed the sixth grade and man, I felt worthless after that,” he said.

But then Thorn’s family switched his school.

“Nobody had known I had failed (at the new school),” so when the talent show came around, Thorn broke out his guitar and played Lionel Richie’s “Three Times A Lady.”

“After that I was one of the most popular kids in school,” said Thorn. “I found something to make my life out of.”

Thorn’s father traveled around Mississippi playing both black and white churches in the post-Jim Crow era with his wife and young son Paul, while Thorn’s uncle — his fathers brother — was a pimp.

That dichotomy clearly influenced his 2010 album, Pimps and Preachers.

“Pimps and preachers wear the same clothes,” said Thorn. “And a preacher only wants 10 percent of your money while a pimp wants 100 percent.”

Thorn made no excuses for the mistakes of his uncle, who is no longer involved in that life.

“I was raised by pimps and preachers,” said Thorn. “So I know that nobody is all good and nobody is all bad.”

Thorn said his upbringing, “taught me don’t put people on a pedestal.”

Not putting people on a pedestal stuck with Thorn in his younger years seeing as he spent them knocking people out as a professional boxer. In his brief boxing career Thorn fought a nationally televised fight against former champion Roberto Duran, as well becoming the mid-south middleweight champion, before putting the gloves down for a guitar.

“Boxing prepared me for the life I live now,” said Thorn. “Boxing is all about facing your fears, and so is being on stage, it conditioned me to be on stage.

Promoter Danny Zelisko sees the boxer coming out in Thorn’s music as well.

“There’s no one like him — he used to be a prize fighter and not only does he make great music, but you’d want him on your side in a barroom brawl,” Zelisko said. “Paul is one of the best kept secrets in music, and I intend to change that.”

Ever the promoter, Zelisko said Thorn has the potential to one day be mentioned in the same breath as legendary rockers like Lynard Skynard and ZZ Top.

“Paul Thorn is never anything short of outstanding,” said Zelisko.

Zelisko described Thorn as, “John Prine, John Hyatt and ZZ Top on steroids,” as well as saying “he plays great rock, with great lyrics and great hooks, Paul writes perfect songs.”

Zelisko’s personal favorites from Paul Thorn are “800 Pound Jesus,” “Hammer and Nails,” and “Burn Down The Trailer Park,” though Zelisko says it’s tough to choose favorites from a ten-album discography.

Thorn, in fact, has written and recorded so many of his own songs that he got bored and recorded What The Hell Is Going On, an album of covers played by Thorn and his touring band.

Thorn calls his music “country, gospel, blues rock,” while many critics call it Americana.

“I don’t know what Americana means, I don’t call myself anything but a 46-year-old man who failed sixth grade,” said Thorn.

“I didn’t go to college, I’m dyslexic and I had a hard time in school, I’m doing what I’m good at,” he said, “for me, it’s this or McDonald’s.”

Thorn will be playing The Crescent Ballroom on Sunday, Aug. 12 at 7:30 pm.

Jeff Moses is a freelance writer and photographer from Teaneck, N.J. and is currently living in Mesa, Ariz. He has been published in The Mesa Legend, and The Highway Herald. Contact him by calling 727-385-0624.
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