David Allan Coe Biography

6 September 1939, Akron, Ohio, USA. From the age of nine, Coe was in and out of reform schools, correction centres and prisons. According to his publicity handout, he spent time on Death Row after killing a fellow inmate who demanded oral sex. When Rolling Stone magazine questioned this, Coe responded with a song, ‘I’d Like To Kick The Shit Out Of You’. Whatever the truth of the matter, Coe was paroled in 1967 and took his songs about prison life to Shelby Singleton who released two albums on his SSS label. Coe wrote Tanya Tucker’s 1974 US country number 1, ‘Would You Lay With Me (In A Field Of Stone)?’. He took to calling himself Davey Coe - the Mysterious Rhinestone Cowboy, performing in a mask, and driving a hearse. He satirized the themes of country music with hilarious additions to Steve Goodman’s ‘You Never Even Called Me By My Name’, but has often used the clichés himself. His defiant stance and love of motorbikes, multiple tattoos and ultra-long hair made him a natural ‘Nashville outlaw’, which he wrote about in the self-glorifying ‘Longhaired Redneck’ and ‘Willie, Waylon And Me’ (Willie Nelson and Waylon Jennings).

In 1978 Johnny Paycheck had a US country number 1 with Coe’s ‘Take This Job And Shove It’, which inspired a film of the same title in 1981, and Coe’s own successes included the witty ‘Divers Do It Deeper’ (1978), ‘Jack Daniels If You Please’ (1979), ‘Now I Lay Me Down To Cheat’ (1982), ‘The Ride’ (1983), which conjures up a meeting between Coe and Hank Williams, and ‘Mona Lisa Lost Her Smile’ (1984), which reached number 2 on the US country charts, his highest position as a performer. Recordings with other performers include ‘Don’t Cry Darlin’’ and ‘This Bottle (In My Hand)’ with George Jones, ‘I’ve Already Cheated On You’ with Willie Nelson, and ‘Get A Little Dirt On Your Hands’ with Bill Anderson. Coe’s 1978 album Human Emotions was about his divorce - one side being ‘Happy Side’ and the other ‘Su-i-side’. The controversial cover of Texas Moon shows the bare backsides of his band and crew, and he has also released two mail-order albums of explicit songs, Nothing Sacred and Underground. Coe appears incapable of separating the good from the ridiculous and his albums are erratic. At his best, he is a sensitive, intelligent writer. Similarly, his stage performances with his Tennessee Hat Band differ wildly in length and quality: sometimes it is non-stop music, sometimes it features conjuring tricks. Coe’s main trick, however, is to remain successful, as country music fans grow exasperated with his over-the-top publicity. He may still be an outlaw but as Waylon Jennings remarks in ‘Living Legends’, that only means double-parking on Music Row.

Source: The Encyclopedia of Popular Music by Colin Larkin. Licensed from Muze.

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