Over the course of a long life and exceptional musical career, 73-year-old Akron, Ohio, native and outlaw country blues singer/songwriter/guitarist, David Allan Coe, has come to know the polar opposite core emotions love and hate as the two sentiments have always found the guitarist as a team, as his career’s highs and lows have conflicted simultaneously over the course of the last 40 years. Love and hate are seen and heard together coming out his song writing, personal life and from the attention he has received over the years through critic, peer and fan praise as well as their undeniable contempt for some aspects of Coe’s career. In other words, Coe has written immensely popular hits for the likes of Tanya Tucker and others, all the way to some of the most racially derogative lyrics written in the country rock genre. Whichever side of the fence you’re sitting on, though, rest assured that the famously infamous Coe is bringing all he is to the stage of Main St. Live (formerly 527 and Gilligan’s, among other names) the night of Saturday, Nov. 3, with special guests The Screaming Boweevils and Plowd opening for him while the recently local fixture, Jason and the Punknecks, will perform an after party at the venue once Coe finishes his set.
Off to a nice Akron start for the first eight years of his life, Coe got in somewhat of a childhood before, at the age of nine, he was shipped off to a reform school in the area, giving way to a life in and out of developmental correction facilities until he was shy of 30 years old. Fortunately, the love found in such a hateful environment sparked from going in as a fan of Memphis rhythm and blues singer, Johnny Ace, which led Coe to a friendship with fellow inmate and pre-shock rocker, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins of “I Put a Spell on You” fame, who put Coe on the mindset to write his own music. Even in such a racially charged environment as a 1950s and ’60s prison setting, Coe had a good head on his shoulders; never defeated by the abuse he caught from white inmates for having friends with a different color skin and with the inspiration from his jail buddies, the freshly paroled Coe of 1967 traveled down to live in a hearse parked around the Ryman Auditorium in hopes of being picked up by the Grand Ole Opry, but instead, the opportunity to sign with an independent label, Plantation Records, happened before any potential Opry fame.
From there, Coe found himself in the middle of the beginning musician’s dream: Releasing his country-blues raucous of a debut album, Penitentiary Blues, in January of 1969 that earned him an opening spot on Grand Funk Railroad’s tour that year as well as a songwriting credibility taken advantage of by the likes of Tanya Tucker for her 1973 #1 hit, “Would You Lay with Me (In a Field of Stone),” that eventually graduated Coe from beginner-musician’s status to the roster of Columbia Records for being one of Nashville’s hottest songwriters during the mid 1970s. It sounds like a head-spinning turn of events for someone coming from such a rough past, but however hard his head spun, it put the man’s noggin’ in a loving place as success came rolling in.
After enjoying the fame of a sought-after Nashvillian country music writer, Coe was on a high horse, living down in Key West, schmoozing with the likes of other famous lyricists such as Shel Silverstein who, according to the album’s story-to-publication, talked Coe into independently producing a couple of bootleg, underground records, 1978’s Nothing Sacred and 1982’s Underground Album, which both writers recognized as somewhat comedic productions despite hateful content (such as Coe’s most controversial song, “Nigger Fucker,” deemed, “among the most racist, misogynist, homophobic and obscene songs recorded by a popular songwriter,” according to New York Times writer Neil Strauss in 2000, whom Coe responded to appropriately as an envelope-pushing artist of his time such as Eminem was during the time Strauss issued his review).
Nonetheless, after releasing his two most controversial albums that have stuck to his reputation more than anything else he’s accomplished, and along with a string of mainstream successes as other artists, as well as filmmakers, used his songs for their own productions, Coe, after all his success, fell off the success train as the Internal Revenue Service took his home in Key West after some back taxes Coe owed were discovered, eventually and literally leaving the songwriter with nowhere to live outside of a Tennessee cave until he had the opportunity to marry and get himself together for a resurgence in popularity and career re-boot in the early 1980s. During that time, Coe belted out chart-topping Billboard hits such as “The Ride” in 1983, “Mona Lisa Lost Her Smile” in ’84 and “She Used to Love Me a Lot,” in ’85. In the early 1990s, seemingly in spite of and in the eyes of his rebound success, he reissued Nothing Sacred and Underground Album on CD as CDs were becoming the hip music medium, afterwards taking time and his repertoire on the road around the world for the following decade. Coe stuck to the road plan, only releasing one other album, Rebel Meets Rebel (recorded with a majority of Pantera, including Dimebag Darrell), as an outstanding representation of what the not-so-well-known genre of country metal and released just shortly after Darrell’s on-stage murder in 2006.
Since then, David Allan Coe’s just been touring for the masses that can never get enough of the country/rock bluesman’s rasp and praised guitar chops. And now, Murfreesboro finally brings him in for the local folks fascinated with the long-haired, Ohio-born, heathen of a success story, David Allan Coe.
Even though the names change, the place is still in the same location as, once again, the 18 and up Main St. Live is holding the Coe concert Nov. 3. General Admission tickets are set at $20 while the balcony tickets are going for $30. Smoking is allowed in the rear. More information on opening and after party acts can be found on the Facebook event page.