John D. Loudermilk Biography

31 March 1934, Durham, North Carolina, USA. Loudermilk’s first musical experience was banging a drum for the Salvation Army; he played various instruments as a child and appeared regularly on the radio from the age of 11. In 1956, George Hamilton IV recorded his song ‘A Rose And A Baby Ruth’, which went from the local to the national charts, reaching number 6. A few months later, Eddie Cochran made his debut in the US Top 20 with ‘Sittin’ In The Balcony’, another Loudermilk song that he had recorded himself under the pseudonym Johnny D. When Loudermilk moved to Nashville, a stream of hits followed, the UK chart successes being ‘Waterloo’ (Stonewall Jackson, 1959), ‘Angela Jones’ (Michael Cox, 1960), ‘Tobacco Road’ (Nashville Teens, 1964), ‘Google Eye’ (which was a catfish, Nashville Teens, 1964), ‘This Little Bird’ (Marianne Faithfull, 1965, and subsequently parodied by the Barron Knights), ‘Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye’ (Casinos, 1967, and a US country number 1 for Eddy Arnold), ‘It’s My Time’ (the Everly Brothers, 1968), ‘Indian Reservation (The Lament Of The Cherokee Reservation Indian)’ (Don Fardon, 1970 and a US number 1 for the Raiders, 1971) and ‘Sunglasses’ (a revival of a Skeeter Davis record by Tracey Ullman, 1984).

Loudermilk’s controversial ‘death’ song, ‘Ebony Eyes’, was the b-side of the Everly Brothers’ 1961 number 1, ‘Walk Right Back’. Other successful b-sides include ‘Weep No More My Baby’ (Brenda Lee’s ‘Sweet Nothin’s’), ‘Stayin’ In’ (Bobby Vee’s ‘More Than I Can Say’), ‘Heaven Fell Last Night’ (the Browns’ ‘The Three Bells’) and ‘In A Matter Of Moments’ (Louise Cordet’s ‘I’m Just A Baby’). Near misses include ‘All Of This For Sally’ (Mark Dinning), ‘The Guitar Player (Him And Her)’ for Jimmy Justice and ‘To Hell With Love’ for Adam Faith. He arranged an old song, ‘Abilene’, for George Hamilton IV, which made the US charts in 1963 and became a country standard. His other country music successes include ‘Talk Back Trembling Lips’ (Ernest Ashworth and Johnny Tillotson), ‘Bad News’ (Johnny Cash and Boxcar Willie), ‘Break My Mind’ (George Hamilton IV, Gram Parsons and the Hillsiders), ‘You’re Ruinin’ My Life’ (Hank Williams Jnr. ) and ‘Half-Breed’ (Marvin Rainwater). He wrote clever novelty songs for Bob Luman (‘The Great Snowman’ and ‘The File’) and for Sue Thompson (‘Sad Movies (Make Me Cry)’, ‘Norman’, ‘James (Hold The Ladder Steady)’ and ‘Paper Tiger’, all US Top 30 hits). Loudermilk had his own hit with ‘The Language Of Love’, which made number 13 in the UK in 1962. He made several albums of his own material and they have been collected on two Bear Family compilations, Blue Train and It’s My Time, which contain two previously unreleased tracks in ‘The Little Wind Up Doll’ and ‘Giving You All My Love’. He has often worked in the UK and performs his songs in a similar manner to Burl Ives. He produced Pete Sayers’ best album, Bogalusa Gumbo, in 1979, but an album that he recorded at the same sessions has not been released. He now spends his time studying ethnomusicology.

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

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