Tobacco Road (song)

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"Tobacco Road"
Nashville Teens Tobacco Road.png
Cover of the 1964 English single
Single by The Nashville Teens
from the album Tobacco Road
B-side"I Like It Like That"
ReleasedJune 26, 1964 (1964-06-26) (UK)
August 1964 (1964-08) (US)
LabelDecca (UK)
London (US)
Songwriter(s)John D. Loudermilk
Producer(s)Mickie Most
The Nashville Teens singles chronology
"Tobacco Road"
"Google Eye"
"Tobacco Road"
Tobacco Road (song).png
Cover of the 1972 German single
Single by Eric Burdon & War
from the album Eric Burdon Declares "War"
B-side"Tobacco Road: I Have A Dream"
Songwriter(s)John D. Loudermilk
Producer(s)Jerry Goldstein
Eric Burdon & War singles chronology
"Spill the Wine"
"Tobacco Road"
"Paint It Black"

"Tobacco Road" is a blues song written and first recorded by John D. Loudermilk in 1960 that was a hit for The Nashville Teens in 1964 and has since become a standard across several musical genres.

Loudermilk original[edit]

Originally framed as a folk song, "Tobacco Road" was a semi-autobiographical tale of growing up in Durham, North Carolina. Released on Columbia Records, it was not a hit for Loudermilk, achieving only minor chart success in Australia. Other artists, however, immediately began recording and performing the song.

Nashville Teens hit[edit]

The English group The Nashville Teens' garage rock[1][2]/blues rock[3] rendering was a bold effort featuring prominent piano, electric guitar, and bass drum parts and a dual lead vocal. Mickie Most produced it with the same tough-edged-pop feel that he brought to The Animals' hits. "Tobacco Road" was a trans-Atlantic pop hit in 1964, reaching number 6 on the UK singles chart and number 14 on the U.S. singles chart. While the Teens would have some further success in the UK, in the U.S. "Tobacco Road" became another one-hit wonder of the British Invasion.

Later versions and uses[edit]

In the 1970s, songwriters Nicky Chinn and Mike Chapman claimed to have been inspired by "Tobacco Road" while writing The Sweet's "Blockbuster", after accusations of stealing the guitar riff from David Bowie's "Jean Genie".

The song became a hit for Edgar Winter on his debut album Entrance and he plays a 17-minute live version of the song on the double LP Roadwork from 1972.

"Tobacco Road" has been performed by a great number of other artists, often with slightly altered lyrics.

In the late 1960s, the song became a staple of the Jackson 5's early shows, and was one of four songs they performed for their Motown Records audition, in 1968.

In 1966 The Blues Magoos recorded the song as a single (b/w "Sometimes I Think About" from their Psychedelic Lollipop album.

On February 1, 1966, Lou Rawls performed the song as a medley with "Southside Blues", which was included on his album Live!.

Blues harmonica player Junior Wells (with Buddy Guy on lead guitar) recorded the song in 1968 for his Coming At You album on Vanguard.

In 1970 it was a Polydor hit[citation needed] by Eric Burdon & War in an abbreviated version. The MGM album version runs for 14 minutes. Later, after they disbanded, they released another version featured on many compilations.

Eric Burdon released some live recordings on Access All Areas, Official Live Bootleg #2, and Athens Traffic Live. An 11-minute live version from the early 1980s was released later.

The former lead singer of Van Halen, David Lee Roth, recorded the song in 1985 for the studio album Eat 'Em and Smile (and the Spanish LP version, "Sonrisa Salvaje"). It includes a cover of "Tobacco Road" (Spanish title, La Calle de Tabaco). The song features Steve Vai on guitar, and has a much faster tempo.

Serbian super-group Smak played a 15-minute version of this song during their concerts in late seventies, in Eric Burdon style. In 1992 they held concerts in Belgrade and recorded and released their 12-minute version on odLIVEno.

Roy Clark included the song on his 1986 album Rockin' in the Country. His version peaked at number 56 on the Billboard Hot Country Singles chart.[4]

The song is also covered by hip-hop duo dead prez in the intro of "Psychology" on their debut album Let's Get Free.

The song is used in the ending credits of the TV show Mad Men, Season 4 Episode 1 "Public Relations."


  1. ^ Stiernberg, Bonnie. "The 50 Best Garage Rock Songs of All Time". Paste. Retrieved 15 May 2016.
  2. ^ Dave Marsh; James Bernard (1 November 1994). New Book of Rock Lists. Simon and Schuster. p. 14. ISBN 978-0-671-78700-4.
  3. ^ "Tobacco Road" at AllMusic
  4. ^ Whitburn, Joel (2013). Hot Country Songs 1944–2012. Record Research, Inc. p. 77. ISBN 978-0-89820-203-8.

External links[edit]