David Allan Coe – RAG Interview

He’s An Ohio Boy!
David Allan Coe … the singer, songwriter, magician, and movie star was born in Akron, Ohio in 1939. Life decided early on the journey he was to take and by the ripe old age of 9 he was serving time in the Starr Commonwealth for Boys in Albion, Michigan. By14…the Boy’s Industrial School in Lancaster, Ohio. Age 16 he was living at the U.S. Army Prison Stockade, Camp Gordon, Georgia. 17 he was in the Lewisburg Penitentiary, Penn. Now an adult at 18…the Chillicothe Reformatory, Ohio.19 we find him in Lima, Ohio, (State Hospital) At 20…the Ohio State Reformatory then the Ohio State Penitentiary. 21 found him back at the Ohio State Reformatory. 23 back at the Ohio State Penitentiary where he killed another inmate and did time on Death Row. Ages 25-27 were spent in the Marion Correctional Institution, Ohio being paroled in 1968 and finally released from parole in 1969. While in prison he started writing poems and songs including the hit “Jack Daniels… If You Please” and some with still controversial to this day… x-rated lyrics.

After his parole, he went on to write and release songs… some that have been enormous hits for other performers. Songs like “Would You Lay With Me (In A Field Of Stone)”, “Tennessee Whiskey” “This Bottle (In My Hand)” and one of the most popular songs ever recorded…”Take This Job And Shove It” He has also written songs for and recorded with people like Willie Nelson, Tammy Wynette, Johnny Cash, Kid Rock and many others! He has recorded others’ songs making them his own.
He’s had over 60 songs on the Billboard Singles Chart including Gold and Platinum records. Has written thousands of songs, including the hit “You Never Even Called Me By My Name”, but for some reason has never been inducted into The Country Music Hall Of Fame! www.countrymusichalloffame.com (cast your nomination)

Some of his songs are country. Some are rock…some are rap…or a mix of all above. A lot of his songs are autobiographical in nature. Songs like.” Longhaired Redneck”,” Son Of The South”, “If That Ain’t Country”, Willie, Waylon And Me” “Will You Remember Me?” and “Single Father” which is on the new Kid Rock album “Kid Rock” But…even his autobiographical songs constantly evolve as he does.

Now with over 3 decades of performing and in his sixties, he continues to tour and play sold out shows with his son Tyler playing guitar at his side.

David is a legend in our time and while he doesn’t do many interviews…sat down with me while I offered up a bottle of Gentleman Jack Daniels and we talked after a show at The Big Easy in Columbus Ohio.

Rhythm, Art & Groove- David…how have you been?

David Allan Coe- Fine!

RAG- You write and play ALL types of music. Could you please define your own style of music?

DAC- No…music is just music to me. I don’t put labels on it.

RAG- Where in the U.S. is your biggest fan base?

DAC- Probably… North Carolina.

RAG- What about over in Europe?

DAC- It’s been awhile since I’ve been over there. I used to be more popular in Europe than I was over here. I won “Songwriter Of The Year” and “Male Vocalist Of The Year” four or five years in a row over there!

RAG- What is your opinion on file sharing?

DAC- It doesn’t matter to me because I don’t get paid for my older songs anyway!

RAG- You recently released your first DVD “Live Billy Bob’s Texas” I’ve got two questions:

1. How has it been received?

DAC- It’s doing really well.

The second question is… What took you so long to release a DVD?

DAC- I guess I just didn’t have anybody that was interested in doin’ one. When I was approached about doin’ one I asked them “What was involved”? They said “Well we know you’re not much on doing interviews…” And I told them that I didn’t mind. I’m getting to the age now where I don’t mind talking to people because… it really can’t affect me too much. What I say or do…you know what I mean? In the old days, when I was younger…I had a guy come up to me and say “Let me ask you something. The way you do your hair and paint your nails, stuff like that…are you a homosexual?”
I was like “Why would you even ask me that?” Then the story came out “David Allan Coe Denies Being A Homosexual” which makes a lot of people say “Why did they even ask the guy in the first place?” You know what I mean…I just thought “F*#k this S#*t…what’s this about?” You know?

RAG- You’ve met a lot of famous people in your life. You even did a little time with Charles Manson. What was he like?

DAC-Well…he wasn’t famous when I knew him…(laughing)

RAG- Didn’t you teach him to play the guitar?

DAC- Yeah…I taught Charlie how to play. He was just a regular guy then. He wasn’t the “Charles Manson” the world knows at that time in his life. He was just Charlie Manson.
Jimmy Hoffa bought me my first tour bus! I’ve met a lot of people in my time.

RAG- Elvis Presley?

DAC- Yep…Elvis. I know those kinds of celebrities but I’ve also met others too. I was in prison with Russell Clark who was the last living member of The John Dillinger Gang. We worked in the dining hall together. I was in a cell with Joe English who was the last living member of The Purple Gang in Detroit Michigan. He had been sentenced to jail a year before I was born…all that time. I was in prison with different mafia figures, gangsters, bank robbers and those kinds of people. A different kind of celebrity…you know. Movie stars…Jan Michael Vincent. Jan Michael is a great guy!

RAG- Do you still keep in touch?

DAC- I haven’t talked to him in a couple of years. He’s had some problems and went to one of those alcohol rehabilitation centers and I kinda lost touch with him there.

RAG- How did you meet up with Kid Rock?

DAC- Well my son, Tyler (Coe) said he was reading one of those “rock n’ roll” magazines and read a story on Kid Rock. Kid Rock was sayin’ that ”I was his favorite songwriter in the whole world” My son said” Dad you gotta get ahold of this guy!” So I had my management company call his management company and leave my phone number and he called me the next day!
We just happened to be going to Detroit and I went out to his house. We sat up all night and wrote songs and talked. We went in the studio the next day and recorded two or three things. We just hit it off. In fact…I just saw him the other day. He was rehearsing for his upcoming tour.

RAG- Is that how you met Uncle Kracker?

DAC- Yep…we went to a Kid Rock concert and this guy got off the bus and he had a DAC t-shirt on from 1978. It was Uncle Kracker. That’s how I met him.

Rag- What about Pantera?

DAC- Pantera came to see me in Ft. Worth, Texas. I was doing an autograph session and they were standing in line for autographs. Dimebag (Darryl) and Vinnie (Paul) came in and sat down. They had bought some t-shirts and stuff for me to sign. They said “Hey we got a little band you know. And we play your song “Jack Daniels If You Please” before we go on stage every night for our audience. We would like to give you a couple of our videos.” They gave me that stuff and gave me their number and said ”Let’s hook up sometime.” I went home and put that video on and it was like watching the Beatles! They would be over in Germany and Japan…different places and people would have Pantera written on their foreheads!
That’s how we met. So…the next time I was in Dallas I called them up and we started recording.

RAG- When is that due out?

DAC- Well Pantera just broke up. Dimebag and Vinnie have a new band called Damage Plan and have a new album coming out called “New Found Power.” We wanted to put that out first so it would hit their fans so they would know what they (Dimebag &Vinnie) were doin’ since Pantera broke up and wouldn’t get it confused with the DAC/Pantera record.

RAG- Speaking of famous people…I was talking with Jakson Spires (SRA/Blackfoot)(see Nov. 03 issue of RAG) yesterday and he told me to tell you he said “Hello.”

DAC-Cool! (smiling) The last time I saw him I was on tour with Kid Rock
RAG- He (Jakson) told me that you guys did the “Bean Blossom Boogie” show together with the Kentucky Headhunters.

DAC-Yeah! (still smiling)

RAG- You play The Iron Horse Saloon in Florida for 10 nights in a row.

DAC-Twice a year!

RAG- How long have you been doing that?

DAC- Oh…about 10 years.

RAG- What’s that like?

DAC- That’s the only time I get to go home. That’s where I live. The rest of the time if I get 2 or 3 days off, I can’t drive back to Florida. It would take a day to get there and a day to get back to wherever we’re playin’ next. That only leaves a day to be home…it ain’t worth it. On our off days, I usually go to the nearest casino. I get my rooms free, my food free. I gamble…that’s something I enjoy doin’.

RAG- Do you do any good?

DAC- I win some…I lose some. I may win $100,000 or I may lose $20,000. It doesn’t matter.

RAG- What motivates you to tour year after year at an almost non-stop pace?

DAC- $8,000 a month in alimony! A man’s gotta work!

RAG- Do you still do magic?

DAC- Not much anymore…but I still love it.

RAG- You lost two very important friends in your life last year. Johnny Cash and Johnny Paycheck.

DAC- Boy…I lost more than that. I lost Hank Ballard from the Hank Ballard Midnighters. He was one of my best friends. Harlan Howard…a great songwriter. Mickey Newberry…a great songwriter. Waylon Jennings, Johnny Cash, June Carter, Shel Silverton…there’s been a lot of them. It seems like every week somebody’s dyin’. It gets kinda scary when you’re my age and that’s happenin’ (eyes toward the floor in deep thought)

RAG- Do you ever think of slowing down… or just riding it out?

DAC- I’m just not ready to stop yet. I’ve got too much still to do.

RAG- What’s it like to be David Allan Coe?

DAC- Oh man…it ain’t all “peaches and cream” I can tell you that. I’ve just been doing it for so long…it’s just a way of life.

RAG- Other than the Pantera project, do you have any other projects in the future?

DAC- Kimberly (Hastings) my girlfriend, is putting together a documentary on my life. She has a film crew out of North Carolina editing that right now so that should be out in the near future. I’m on a record label (Cleveland International Records) owned by a friend of mine Steve Popovich, and we’re putting out a series called “DAC Presents” So far we’ve put out a Joe Tex album, a Patsy Cline album, a Merle Haggard album and a Roger Miller album…and that’s been pretty cool.

RAG- Are there any advantages to being on a large label verses a smaller one?

DAC- Radio won’t play your music if you’re over 30 anyway. That’s the only reason to be on a major record label…for radio airplay. We sell a lot of records from touring.

RAG- Is there anything that you might want to say to your friends/fans?

DAC- I just want people to start listening to the music and quit talking about DAC the person. Talk about the music. Look into the music. Find out that there’s more to me than 2 x- rated albums

RAG- You’ve penned over 10,000 songs!

DAC- Yeah…(smiles)

TROY- I would like to thank Steve Popovich Jr. at Cleveland Int’l Records, Bruce Smith and Bill Quesenberry for all their help and support!

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