John D. Loudermilk Jr. (March 31, 1934 - September 21, 2016) was an American singer and songwriter. Although he had his own recording career during the 1950s and 1960s, he was primarily known as a songwriter. His best-known songs include "Indian Reservation", a 1968 UK cover by Don Fardon and a 1971 U.S. No.1 hit for Paul Revere & the Raiders; "Ebony Eyes", a 1961 U.K. No.1 and U.S. No.8 for the Everly Brothers; "Tobacco Road", a 1964 Top 20 hit in both the U.S. and the U.K. for the Nashville Teens; "This Little Bird", a U.K. No.6 for Marianne Faithfull in 1965, and "Then You Can Tell Me Goodbye", a U.S. Top Ten hit in 1967 for the Casinos and also a U.S. No.1 country hit for Eddy Arnold the following year.
John D. Loudermilk ("D" does not stand for anything) was born in Durham, North Carolina, to Pauline and John D. Loudermilk Sr., an illiterate carpenter. John D. Jr. 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. Loudermilk was 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 graphic artist, 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.
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.
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.
Loudermilk had suffered from prostate cancer and respiratory ailments. He died on September 21, 2016, at his home in Christiana, Tennessee. The cause of death was a heart attack, according to his son Michael. He was 82.
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 Raiders' hit song "Indian Reservation", he fabricated the story that he wrote the song after his car was snowed in by a blizzard and he was taken in by Cherokee Indians. A self-professed prankster, he spun the tale that a Cherokee chieftain, "Bloody Bear Tooth" asked him to make a song about his people's plight and the Trail of Tears, even going so far as to claim that he had later been awarded "the first medal of the Cherokee Nation", not for writing the song, but for his "blood"; further fabricating that his "great-great grandparents, Homer and Matilda Loudermilk" were listed on the Dawes Rolls. Had this tall tale been true, he would have been a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, which he was not. Neither the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians, nor the United Keetoowah Band of Cherokee Indians, nor the Cherokee Nation of Oklahoma communities are known as "reservations."
|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|
|1979||Just Passing Through||MIM|
|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|
|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|
|1967||"Chet's Tune"||Some of Chet's Friends||38|