John D. Loudermilk

Induction Year: 1976

Birth Name: John D. Loudermilk

Birth Date: 03-31-1934

Place of Birth: Durham, North Carolina

Death Date: 09-21-2016

Place of Death: Christiana, TN

Before he became a professional songwriter, John D. Loudermilk had a colorful list of occupations, including shoeshine boy, janitor, television cameraman and door-to-door Bible salesman. This breadth of experience all fed into his ability in song to speak to the everyman and inhabit oddball characters. His distinctive songwriting voice led to enormous success in both the country and pop markets in the 1950s and '60s.

He was the youngest of three children born to a working-class family in North Carolina. As a boy, he hung out in his tree house, read comic books and learned to play his mom's old guitar. In his teens, he listened to everything from bluesman Jimmy Reed to classical Spanish guitarist Andres Segovia.

After high school, John went to work for a North Carolina TV station, painting sets and doing commercial artwork. During this time, he discovered the works of poet-philosopher Kahlil Gibran, and they inspired him to start writing poetry. When he set his poem called "A Rose and a Baby Ruth" to music, a local singer named George Hamilton IV recorded it. Overnight, it became a pop hit, and Loudermilk became a songwriter.

Nashville beckoned. In 1958, Loudermilk answered, embarking on a dual — and slightly schizophrenic — career as a solo artist and a songwriter for hire. His own records were a mix of goofy teen pop and novelty tunes. But writing for others, he scored somber, emotional hits such as "Ebony Eyes" for the Everly Brothers. In 1964, "Tobacco Road" made his name as a songwriter. The bluesy tale of hard-bitten Southern poverty became a hit for British invasion group Nashville Teens, then went on to become a standard covered by artists (over 200 in all) from Lou Rawls to Bobbie Gentry.

Through the '60s and early '70s, Loudermilk continued his incongruous career, making his own idiosyncratic albums while becoming one of Nashville's most widely covered songwriters, landing cuts with such artists as Chet Atkins, George Jones, Dolly Parton, Nancy Sinatra and James Brown.

His last major songwriting success, "Indian Reservation," was a pop #1 for Paul Revere & the Raiders in 1971. "Indian Outlaw," a 1994 hit for Tim McGraw, quotes the chorus of "Indian Reservation," giving Loudermilk partial credit for yet another hit.

Loudermilk has spent the majority of his time since the early '70s studying ethnomusicology. He lives in Nashville, where he occasionally makes appearances at songwriting festivals and industry events.

"(He's My) Dreamboat"

Connie Francis1961 #14 pop

"A Rose and a Baby Ruth"

George Hamilton IV1956 #6 pop
The Crests1960 
Al Kooper1970 
Marilyn Manson1999 


(written with Bob Gibson, Lester Brown, Albert Stanton)

Bob Gibson1957 
George Hamilton IV1963 #1 country, #15 pop
Bobby Bare1963 
Bobby Darin1963 
Bill Anderson1964 
Roy Drusky1964 
Buck Owens1964 
Pete Drake1965 
Jimmy Dean1968 
Waylon Jennings1964 
John D. Loudermilk1971 
Sonny James1977 #24 country
Chet Atkins1983 

"Amigo's Guitar"

(written with Roy Botkin, Kitty Wells)

Kitty Wells1960 #5 country
Billy Walker1965 
Norma Jean1966 

"Angela Jones"

Johnny Ferguson1960 #27 pop
John D. Loudermilk1962 

"Bad News"

John D. Loudermilk1963 #23 country
Johnny Cash1964 #8 country
Eddy Arnold1965 
Pat Boone1969 
Clarence Carter1969 
Johnny Winter1970 
Jerry Jeff Walker1978 
Boxcar Willie1982 #36 country
B. J. Thomas1986 
Peter Dawson2001 
Alejandro Escovedo2003 

"Big Daddy"

Sue Thompson1962 
John D. Loudermilk1962 
The Browns1968 #52 country
Wanda Jackson1969 
Jerry Reed1971 

"Booboo Stick Beat"

(written with Buddy Harman)

Chet Atkins1960 

"Break My Mind"

George Hamilton IV1967 #23 pop
The Box Tops1967 
Glen Campbell1968 
Tommy Collins1968 
Johnny Darrell1968 
Jan Howard1968 
Jean Shepard1968 
Jerry Lee Lewis1968 
The Carter Family1969 
Pat Boone1969 
Sammy Davis Jr.1969 
Roy Drusky1969 
Ann-Margret & Lee Hazlewood1969 
Linda Ronstadt1969 
Roy Orbison1969 
Anne Murray1970 
Clifford Curry1970 
Wanda Jackson1971 
Barbara Mandrell1971 
The Flying Burrito Brothers1973 
Vern Gosdin1978 #13 country
The Oak Ridge Boys1983 
Crystal Gayle1993 

"Ebony Eyes"

The Everly Brothers1961 #8 pop, #25 country
Dickey Lee1962 
Orion1979 #89 country

"Grin and Bear It"

(written with Marijohn Wilkin)

Jimmy C. Newman1959 #11 country
Jim & Jesse2003 


Marvin Rainwater1959 #16 country, #66 pop
Ricky Nelson1959 
The Browns1964 
The Nashville Teens1964 

"I Wanna Live"

Glen Campbell1968 #1 country, #36 pop
Kitty Wells1968 
Don Gibson1970 
John D. Loudermilk1971 
Eddy Raven1976 #87 country

"Indian Reservation"

Don Fardon1967 #20 pop
Paul Revere & the Raiders1971 #1 pop
Tim McGraw1994 #8 country

"It's My Time"

John D. Loudermilk1967 #51 country
Jody Miller1967 
George Hamilton IV1968 #50 country
Dolly Parton1969 
Lynn Anderson1970 
Jerry Reed1977 
The Everly Brothers1997 

"James Hold the Ladder Steady"

Sue Thompson1962 #17 pop


Sue Thompson1961 #3 pop

"Paper Tiger"

Sue Thompson1965 #23 pop
Dave "Baby" Cortez1965 

"Sad Movies (Make Me Cry)"

Sue Thompson1961 #5 pop
The Lennon Sisters1961 #56 pop

"Sittin' in the Balcony"

Johnny Dee (Loudermilk)1957 #38 pop
Eddie Cochran1957 #18 pop
Don McLean1989 

"Talk Back Trembling Lips"

Ernest Ashworth1963 #1 country
Goldie Hill1964 
Roy Drusky1964 
Porter Wagoner1964 
Kitty Wells1964 
Johnny Tillotson1963 #7 pop
George Jones1966 
Ronna Reeves1991 

"The Language of Love"

John D. Loudermilk1961 #32 pop

"Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye"

Johnny Tillotson1964 
John D. Loudermilk1965 
The Casinos1967 #6 pop
William Bell1967 
Lou Rawls1967 
Andy Williams1967 
Eddy Arnold1968 #1 country, #84 pop
Solomon Burke1968 
James Brown1969 
Jack Greene1969 
Hank Williams Jr. & Lois Johnson1972 
Freddy Fender1974 
Glen Campbell1976 #4 country, #27 pop
Sammi Smith1978 
Toby Beau1979 #7 adult contemporary, #57 pop
Mickey Gilley1983 
Johnny Mathis1989 
Neal McCoy1996 #4 country
Dobie Gray2000 
Buddy Jewell2003 

"This Little Bird"

John D. Loudermilk1962 
Marianne Faithfull1965 #32 pop
The Nashville Teens1965 
Nancy Sinatra1966 

"Thou Shalt Not Steal"

John D. Loudermilk1962 #73 pop
The Newbeats1964 
Dick & DeeDee1965 #13 pop

"Tobacco Road"

John D. Loudermilk1960 
The Nashville Teens1964 #14 pop
The Animals1965 
Paul Revere & the Raiders1966 
The Blues Magoos1966 
Jefferson Airplane1966 
The Ramsey Lewis Trio1966 
Lou Rawls1966 
Bobbie Gentry1968 
Junior Wells1968 
Spooky Tooth1968 
David Clayton-Thomas1969 
Rare Earth1969 
Jamul1970 #93 pop
Edgar Winter's White Trash1976 
Dan Seals1985 
David Lee Roth1986 
Roy Clark1986 #56 country
Clarence Gatemouth Brown1996 
Buddy Miles2002 
The Ventures2006 


Kris Jensen1962 #20 pop
The Everly Brothers1964 
Robert Gordon1980 

"Walkin' Down the Road"

Jimmy C. Newman1959 #29 country


(written with Marijohn Wilkin)

Stonewall Jackson1959 #1 country, #4 pop
Johnnie & Jack1959 
Faron Young1959 
Ferlin Husky1970 
Sonny James1970 

"What a Woman in Love Won't Do"

Sandy Posey1967 #31 pop
Sue Thompson1974 

"Windy and Warm"

Chet Atkins1961 
The Ventures1963 
Doc Watson1966 
Tony Rice1975 
Tommy Emmanuel2006 

"You Take the Table (and I'll Take the Chairs)"

Bob Gallion1959 #18 country
June Webb1959 

John D. Loudermilk

Induction Year: 1976