John D. Loudermilk

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John D. Loudermilk
Also known as
Born (1934-03-31) March 31, 1934 (age 81)
Durham, North Carolina, United States
Genres Country, pop
Occupation(s) Singer, songwriter
Instruments Guitar

John D. Loudermilk (born March 31, 1934) is an American singer and songwriter. Although he had his own recording career during the 1950s and 1960s, he is 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.

Early life and career[edit]

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.[1] 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.[2]

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.[3] 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.[4]

"Indian Reservation"[edit]

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.[5]

Notable compositions[edit]

Awards and honors[edit]



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[edit]

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


  1. ^ Kingsbury, Paul, ed. (2004). The Encyclopedia of Country Music. New York: Oxford University Press. p. 287. ISBN 978-0195176087. 
  2. ^ Unterberger, Richie. "John D. Loudermilk Biography". AllMusic. All Media Network. Retrieved April 26, 2015. 
  3. ^ van der Hoeven, Kees. "John D. Loudermilk Website". Retrieved April 26, 2015. 
  4. ^ Cashmere, Paul (December 29, 2011). "Betty McQuade Dies at 70". Noise11. 
  5. ^ "The Story Behind 'Indian Reservation'" on Viva! NashVegas on YouTube
  6. ^ "John D. Loudermilk". Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. Retrieved April 26, 2015. 
  7. ^ "Inductees – John D. Loudermilk". North Carolina Music Hall of Fame. Retrieved April 26, 2015. 

External links[edit]