David Allen Coe is one of the original bad boys of country music.
He came along in the peak of Waylon and Willie’s “outlaw” era and outlawed them both. An ex-con and motorcycle gang member, he began his career in the late ‘60s, appearing as a masked man and calling himself the Mysterious Rhinestone Cowboy. He unmasked himself during a show with Nelson and began his career in earnest.
Although country radio never really warmed to him, Coe was one of the industry’s most prolific singer/ songwriters for a turbulent decade beginning in the mid-‘70s.
He wrote Tanya Tucker’s first hit, “Would You Lay With Me (In A Field Of Stone),” and he also wrote the Johnny Paycheck classic “Take This Job And Shove It.”
Ironically, his first hit, “You Never Even Called Me By My Name,” was penned by Steve Goodman, the Chicago folk musician who also wrote “The City of New Orleans” for Arlo Guthrie.
He recorded it as a joke, Coe later said. “We never thought it would become the perfect country and western song.”
It’s said that Coe has cut 43 albums under his own name and participated on another 30. His is one of the most memorable voices in country, and he writes material that transcends the usual three-chord country song structure.
“His songs could be, by turns, tender and introspective, bitter and belligerent,” says the “Blackwell Guide to Recorded Country Music.”
Coe’s career peaked with the 1985 song, “The Ride,” about an aspiring country singer who is picked up by the ghost of Hank Williams.
Although he hasn’t received much in the way of airplay since New Country seized the spotlight, Coe is said to still be a brilliant performer. Maybe if he and a few of his peers can hang in there until the hat acts have gone away, he’ll get another shot at the gold ring.
, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: CONCERT David Allen Coe will perform at 8 p.m. Friday at Kelly’s in Stateline, Idaho. Tickets are $15, available at G&B; Select-a-Seat outlets or call (800) 325-SEAT.