John D. Loudermilk

Genre singer-songwriter, 60s, country, oldies, classic rock

John D. Loudermilk (March 31, 1934 - September 21, 2016) was an American singer and songwriter. Although he had his own recording career during the 1950s and 1960s, he was primarily known as a songwriter. His best-known songs include "Indian Reservation", a 1971 #1 hit for Paul Revere & the Raiders; "Tobacco Road", a 1964 top 20 hit for The Nashville Teens; and "Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye", a top ten hit in 1967 for The Casinos and also a #1 country hit for Eddy Arnold the following year.

Born in Durham, North Carolina, Loudermilk grew up in a family who were members of the Salvation Army and was influenced by church singing. His cousins Ira and Charlie Loudermilk were known professionally as The Louvin Brothers. Loudermilk is a graduate of Campbell College (now Campbell University), a private North Carolina Baptist Convention-owned college in Buies Creek, North Carolina.

As a young boy he learned to play the guitar, and while still in his teens, wrote a poem that he set to music, "A Rose and a Baby Ruth". The owners of the local television station, where he worked as a handyman, allowed him to play the song on-air, resulting in country musician George Hamilton IV putting it on record in 1956. After Eddie Cochran had his first hit record with Loudermilk's song "Sittin' in the Balcony", Loudermilk's career path was firmly set.

Loudermilk recorded some of his songs, including "Sittin' in the Balcony", under the stage name "Johnny Dee" (reaching No. 38 on the pop charts in 1957). His "Johnny Dee" records were recorded for the North Carolina-based Colonial Records label.

In 1958, Loudermilk signed with Columbia Records and recorded five unsuccessful singles to 1959. In 1961, he signed with RCA Victor, where he had a number of hits:

"Language of Love" (US No. 32/ UK Top 20) in 1961
"Thou Shalt Not Steal" (US No. 73) in 1962
"Callin' Doctor Casey" (US No. 83) in 1962
"Road Hog" (US No. 65) in 1962
It was as a songwriter that Loudermilk made his mark. In 1963 he wrote another all-time hit for George Hamilton IV, "Abilene". Working out of country music capital Nashville, Tennessee, Loudermilk became one of the most productive songwriters of the 1960s and 1970s, penning country and pop music hits for the Everly Brothers, Johnny Tillotson, Chet Atkins, The Nashville Teens, Paul Revere & the Raiders, Johnny Cash, Marianne Faithfull, Stonewall Jackson, Sue Thompson and others. For example, he wrote "The Pale Faced Indian", later known as "Indian Reservation", a hit in the 1970s, and "Tobacco Road", a hit in the 1960s and 1970s for, among others, the Nashville Teens, Blues Magoos, Eric Burdon & War, and David Lee Roth. "Midnight Bus" was recorded by several singers, and he commented that the best was by Betty McQuade in Melbourne, Australia.

"Indian Reservation"
A well-known story surrounding one of Loudermilk's songs is that, when he was asked by the Viva! NashVegas radio show about the origins of the Raider's hit song "Indian Reservation", he told that he wrote the song after his car was snowed in by a blizzard and being taken in by Cherokee Indians. He claimed that the chief "Bloody Bear Tooth" asked him to make a song about his people's plight and the Trail of Tears. Loudermilk, after being awarded the first medal of the Cherokee nation for this, was asked to read an old ledger book kept during The Trail of Tears. As he read through the names, he discovered his great grandparents, at the age of 91, were marched 1,600 miles (2,600 km) during the plight.

Notable compositions
"Abilene" (a hit for George Hamilton IV)
"Angela Jones" (a hit in the US for Johnny Ferguson and in the UK for Michael Cox)
"A Rose and a Baby Ruth" (a hit for George Hamilton IV)
"Bad News" (covered by Johnny Cash, and by Johnny Winter)
"Big Daddy ('s Alabamy Bound)" (covered by Boots Randolph, Chet Atkins, the Willis Brothers)
"Blue Train" (George Hamilton IV – 1972)
"Break My Mind" (covered by George Hamilton IV, Anne Murray, Sammy Davis, Jr, Glen Campbell, Linda Ronstadt, Roy Orbison, Gram Parsons, Wreckless Eric, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Flying Burrito Brothers, Vern Gosdin and The Box Tops)
"Ebony Eyes" (a hit for The Everly Brothers)
"Everything's Alright" (a #16 Billboard hit for The Newbeats)
"Google Eye" (a hit for The Nashville Teens)
"The Great Snowman" (Bob Luman)
"Hey Ma ! (Hide The Daughter)" a single for "Little" Jimmy Dickens 1959
"He's Just a Scientist" (a notable recording by John D. Loudermilk himself)
"I Hear It Now" (a notable recording by John D. Loudermilk himself)
"I Wanna Live" (a hit for Glen Campbell)
"I'll Never Tell" (recorded by Roy Orbison)
"Indian Reservation" (a hit for Don Fardon and later for Paul Revere and The Raiders; also included in "Indian Outlaw")
"Norman" (a hit for Sue Thompson)
"Paper Tiger" (a hit for Sue Thompson)
"Road Hog" (1962, A Portuguese version called "O Calhambeque" released in 1963 by Brazilian singer Roberto Carlos is a very big hit in Brazil, well known to the public till today; same story in France with Joe Dassin's version "Bip bip" in 1964)
"Sad Movies (Make Me Cry)" (a hit for Sue Thompson)(covered by Boney M)
"Sittin' in the Balcony" ( a hit for Eddie Cochran)
"Sun Glasses", (recorded in 1965 by Skeeter Davis, and in 1967 by Sandy Posey, became a hit in UK in 1984 for Tracey Ullman)
"Talk Back Trembling Lips" (a hit for Johnny Tillotson)
"The Language of Love"
"Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye" (a hit for The Casinos, also recorded by Johnny Nash)
"This Little Bird" (a hit for Marianne Faithfull and The Nashville Teens)
"Thou Shalt Not Steal" (a hit for Dick and Dee Dee)
"Tobacco Road" (a hit for The Nashville Teens (1964); also recorded by Lou Rawls (1963, 1966), the Blues Magoos (1966), Jefferson Airplane (1966), Rare Earth (1969), Edgar Winter's White Trash (1970), David Lee Roth (1985) and many more)
"Top 40, News, Weather and Sports" recorded 1961 by Mark Dinning
"Torture" (a hit for Kris Jensen)
"Turn Me On" (made famous by Norah Jones' cover)
"Waterloo" (a hit for Stonewall Jackson)
"Weep No More My Baby" (B-side to Brenda Lee's hit "Sweet Nothin's")
"What A Woman in Love Won't Do" (Sandy Posey)
"Windy and Warm" (Played by guitarist Chet Atkins)
"You Call It Joggin' (I Call It Runnin' Around) (recorded by Mose Allison)

Awards and honors
1976 – Inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame
2011 – Inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame


Year Album Label
1961 Language of Love RCA
1962 Twelve Sides of John D. Loudermilk
1966 A Bizarre Collection of the Most Unusual Songs
1967 Suburban Attitudes in Country Verse
1968 Country Love Songs
1969 The Open Mind of John D. Loudermilk
1970 The Best of John D. Loudermilk
1971 Volume 1-Elloree Warner
1979 Just Passing Through MIM

Year Single Chart Positions Album
US Country US
1957 "Sittin' in the Balcony" — 38 single only
1961 "Language of Love" — 32 Language of Love
1962 "Thou Shalt Not Steal" — 73 singles only
"Callin' Dr. Casey" — 83
"Road Hog" — 65 Twelve Sides
1963 "Bad News" (b/w "Guitar Player(Her and Him)") 23 — singles only
1964 "Blue Train (Of the Heartbreak Line)" 44 132
"Th' Wife" 45 —
1965 "That Ain't All" 20 —
1966 "Silver Cloud Talkin' Blues" — — A Bizarre Collection of the Most Unusual Songs
"You're the Guilty One" — — single only
1967 "It's My Time" 51 — Suburban Attitudes in Country Verse
1968 "Odd Folks of Okracoke" — — single only
1969 "Brown Girl" — — The Open Mind of John D. Loudermilk
1971 "Lord Have Mercy" — — Volume 1-Elloree
1979 "Every Day I Learn a Little More About Love" — — Just Passing Through

Guest singles
Year Single Artist US Country
1967 "Chet's Tune" Some of Chet's Friends 38


Top Tracks

Language of Love 1

Language of Love

Tobacco Road 2

Tobacco Road

Goin' To Hell On A Sled 3

Goin' To Hell On A Sled

Road Hog 4

Road Hog

The Language of Love 5

The Language of Love

The Little Bird 6

The Little Bird

The Lament Of The Cherokee Reservation Indian 7

The Lament Of The Cherokee Reservation Indian

Asiatic Flu 8

Asiatic Flu

More Than He'll Have To Give 9

More Than He'll Have To Give

The Jones 10

The Jones

Top Albums

The Open Mind Of John D. Loudermilk
The Open Mind Of John D. Loudermilk
Blue Train
Blue Train
Language of Love
Language of Love